There are no winners here. Truly, no one wins. Even if MLB vacates Houston’s 2017 title, which they say they will not do, or gives the Dodgers some sort of consolation prize, it will not erase the pain felt at the time, or the indignation and outrage of finding out two years later that it could have been different. It should have been different. The Dodgers and their fans deserved a fighting chance.
Astros owner Jim Crane fired Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch, but he still has a team full of cheating players, and the stink of their indiscretions will follow them around for years to come. Even the most mundane victories will be under a cloud of suspicion. There are no winners there, either. Though that is as it should be.
There are no winners here in Boston, either. There is only a franchise in disarray, a team with an uncertain future, and millions of heartbroken, frustrated, embarrassed fans. For what it’s worth, fans of other teams, taking your anger out on Sox fans is misdirected and cruel. It probably feels good to make us feel worse, but most of us already feel terrible. We didn’t know what was going on any more than you did, and we did not want it this way.
What Alex Cora did is wrong. What the Astros did is wrong. And what the Red Sox allegedly did is wrong. It’s an insult to fans everywhere who truly love the game, who pay to watch it played fairly, and who come to ballparks for the magic of not knowing what will happen in a game, because anything can happen. These people took that away, and what remains feels cheap, and dirty, and wrong.
I won’t defend Cora or the Red Sox here. I can’t. I’ve never said they were great when they could’ve played better. I don’t shy away from calling them out when they’ve deserved it. I do not make excuses for them, on or off the field.
Yes, you can love your team in the abstract – the franchise, the ballpark, the history, your childhood heroes – and still be disappointed in them in their current form. Beyond disappointment; it’s more like heartbreak. It feels like a bad breakup; I can’t bear to look at the same photos and videos from the 2018 season that once filled me with joy. I remember exactly how I felt when the Red Sox won the World Series, how I smiled, and how I cried, and what I wrote. Now, it just makes me feel frustrated and sad. We will never know exactly what was real, and what was not. Cheating is not how I’d want to win if I played, and it’s not how I want the team I love to win. I like to think that most Red Sox fans feel the same way. From the looks of social media, many of them do, but I can only speak for myself.
There are no winners here. There is only grief, and its five steps: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I’ve seen them all on Baseball Twitter over the last few months, and I’ve experienced them myself. But if we all choose to dwell in this forever, we will never heal. All I can hope is that once these investigations are over, and apologies are made, the baseball world can begin to move forward together.
But there are no winners here.
The Red Sox announced they have ‘mutually parted ways’ with Alex Cora two hours after this story went live. The full statement is available here.