Manfred Did Not Need To Give Astros Players Immunity

In Mickey Callaway fashion, Rob Manfred had to go back out and speak again about Major League Baseball’s handling of the Astros sign stealing scandal. That was necessary because of how poorly the first interview went. To highlight just how bad it went, he referred to the Commissioner’s Trophy awarded to the team who wins the World Series as just a piece of metal.

While that was a big misstep, the biggest complaint remains the Astros players themselves, aside from Carlos Beltran, have faced no repercussions for their actions. On that point, Manfred reiterated the need for immunity saying, “We would not have gotten where we got, in terms of understanding the facts, learning the facts, disclosing the facts if we hadn’t reached that agreement.”

That agreement was between MLB and the MLBPA wherein it was promised if players were upfront about the scandal they would not face fines or suspensions.

When you actually look at it, Manfred did not need to give the players immunity at all. In fact, it was completely unnecessary to conduct the investigation, and by granting the immunity, he really just created a whole host of other problems.

Starting at the beginning, Manfred acknowledged there were complaints from other organizations. While he knew there were other teams, the one which came to mind was the Oakland Athletics. So there were allegations present which could have led to his office conducting an investigation of the Astros front office.

Keep in mind, MLB did not need to offer the Red Sox players immunity to determine the team was illegally using an Apple watch, and they did not need to grant Yankees players immunity to determine they were improperly using the dugout phone.

In order to prepare the report, MLB interviewed 45 individuals who were not Astros players, and they “reviewed tens of thousands of emails, Slack communications, text messages, video clips, and photographs.”

Within that information, MLB would have been able to ascertain information like the setting up of the center field camera, the texting of the sign data to Alex Cora in the dugout, and all the ways the front office used to steal the signs electronically and relay those signs in some way to the dugout.

While not included in the report, the Wall Street Journal noted MLB found evidence of the front office’s full extent of the involvement in the scandal. That included PowerPoint presentations and other data. While this gives what the Astros front office knew and did, including but not limited to the emails identifying players like Beltran, you could still argue there was further cooperation needed to find out what the players did.

Again, that did not require immunity of the entire Astros roster.

Remember, this began when Mike Fiers went public with the allegations. In the article from The Athletic, Fiers came forward with how the Astros players were banging trash cans to relay the signals. Right there, MLB had the information they needed, and they had a key witness who wanted to share the information.

MLB also had the opportunity to speak with AJ Hinch as well as other members of that coaching staff. There were players from 29 other teams they could have asked to come forward to share information they knew. Certainly, seeing comments from players like Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Aaron Judge, Seth Lugo, Michael Conforto, and Mike Trout, it seems players were chomping at the bit to get back at the Astros for cheating.

Overall, MLB could have discovered all they did without giving one Astros player immunity. The main reason is Fiers already came forward, and MLB had the ability to put the squeeze on the Astros coaching staff, which they did with Hinch.

In fact, given the implication that this was a player driven system, it would have been more effective to give Hinch and others immunity to divulge everything they knew. You could say the same for Cora, who was implicated in two scandals.

When you break it down, MLB did not need to give the Astros players immunity to undertake this investigation. Not in the least. It’s a red herring.

As an aside, unlike the Mitchell Report, it created more problems. In fact, with Beltran being the only one named, it created more drama and speculation. Right now, instead of feeling like the matter is completely handled there is rampant speculation about buzzers, Jose Altuve‘s tattoos, and other nonsense.

The real reason Manfred gave the players immunity is he didn’t have the stomach for a fight. Certainly, there was going to be one as the MLBPA said in a published statement, “the applicable rules did not allow for player discipline, because even if they did players were never notified of the rules to begin with, and because cases involving electronic sign stealing MLB had stated that Club personnel were responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules.”

In the end, the players weren’t granted immunity for investigative purposes. Instead, it was to avoid a fight. There are good reasons for that. By not having the drag out fight over the suspensions, you are shortening the cycle of the story. Additionally, with the CBA expiring next year, Manfred is effectively keeping some peace with the MLBPA while also fracturing the union a bit.

Of course, there are other unknown reasons to grant the players immunity. No matter what those reasons, MLB didn’t need to grant the immunity to players to conduct an investigation. Not in the least. Knowing that, there needs to be a further inquiry into what the real reason was as to why the players were granted immunity.

0 thoughts on “Manfred Did Not Need To Give Astros Players Immunity”

  1. Oldbackstop says:

    ROFL….And….how would you have punished the players?

    Do you suspend the pitchers because they knew? Suspend the guys on other teams now, punishing those teams? How do you determine which players used the signs and which refused? Can you really prove EVERY player knew?

    Another childish post without adult realities. Tell us exactly what you would do to 2017 Astros players.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      It helps to read what was actually written before making comments proving you either didn’t read or didn’t understand

  2. Rich Hausig says:

    You nailed it regarding what would have been battle royal with the union. Absolute power is never absolute, in this case the union has rights. The commish was not going there.

    More importantly, let’s move on. What’s done is done and who says these stone throwers are actually without sin? This is the big leagues. They will all cheat given the opportunity. It’s part of being a competitor.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      The truth is fining or suspending players was a logistical nightmare, especially with the Astros needing to be able to field a roster and there being precedent for not suspending players.

      My big issue with Manfred is he can’t just be upfront, and his obvious attempts at deception leads to more problems.

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        The Yankees and Red Sox predated the strong letter warning against electronic cheating. This time heads were going to roll. Lawsuits and a full blown crisis were guaranteed, and one franchise was going to be decimated if the allegations were true.

        The Astros were fighting and lying down to the wire. It was absolutely necessary to make a bulletproof case before powerful punishments like multi-million dollar fines, draft pick rescission, and executive suspensions. There were many people and players to be sorted through to determine the fact base.

        The investigation was absolutely necessary and seems to have been done quite thoroughly. Hell, the biggest deterrent in the future might be a team knowing they would be dragged through the investigative fires if they break the rules.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          The emails, videos, documents, and player comments made an airtight case.

  3. oldbackstop says:

    The union was not going to allow punishment of players anyway “immunity” was moot.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      MLBPA cannot unilaterally make those decisions.

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        They can unilaterally blow up the sport, which was no doubt stated.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          They can’t

          1. Oldbackstop says:

            Of course they can. The union would fight any suspension tooth and nail.

            Oh, by the way, you really nailed it defending Beltran and saying it would all blow over. Still feel that way?

          2. metsdaddy says:

            1. That’s not destroying the game. Not remotely.

            2. Considering the massive pass Davis and Marisnick are getting, absolutely.

          3. Oldbackstop says:

            A union protest of 40 suspended Astros 2017 players (and maybe JD and Marisnick and other players spread around the league) would not blow up the season?

            Oh, and maybe it is 2018 too. And maybe it is the Yankees and the Red Sox too.

            So, if Beltran, the utter eye of the storm in all this media and pending lawsuits, were still the Mets manager, you would consider this to have “blown over” as of even date?

          4. metsdaddy says:

            No, a union appealing suspensions of players will not blow up a season.

            And considering the complete nothing this was with Davis and Marisnick, this would’ve blown over with Beltran.

          5. Oldbackstop says:

            Tony Clark stated that MLB could not discipline player for this. Whatever his legal stance is, that means 50 legal battles. The union doesnt give a shtt what you are accused of, they will defend child molesters and druggies and wife beaters….and the hard core union players will side with the union, citing due process or whatever.

            You are, again, extremely naive to the pragmatic realities of business.

          6. metsdaddy says:

            Why don’t you come back to what the original argument was instead of attacking me for an argument you made up in your mind

          7. Oldbackstop says:

            Not even you can think having Beltran right now wouldn’t shade every stupid move the Wilpons have done in their history.

            Why don’t you write an article advocating the Mets hire him back as bench couch? See the reception that gets.

          8. metsdaddy says:

            Why would I write an article advocating replace an accomplished and respected bench coach in Meulens?

          9. Oldbackstop says:

            Oh, that is it? How about you advocate Beltran as any position at all with the Mets…a newly created one? Your answer is there isn’t one?

            You complain about BVW, but basically every opinion you put forth, from putting Alonso in the Cano trade, to retaining Beltran as manager, is insanity.

          10. metsdaddy says:

            I encourage you to have someone explain to you what was written because you are sharing glaringly poor reading comprehension

          11. Oldbackstop says:

            Were you an only child? Home-schooled? Loving momma who put up with your idiotic inanities? No male role models to slap the crap out of your juvenile arguing?

          12. metsdaddy says:

            Sorry, I was raised by people who gave me a good education. That’s probably why I don’t make up stuff while I go and can comprehend what people say.

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