Rob Manfred is on the clock. Literally. He wants to speed up the game, and one of the elements slowing it down is paranoia about illegal sign stealing.
So the commissioner has a strong ulterior motivation to severely punish the Astros, their personnel and any other teams and people that come out dirty from his department of investigation’s examination into electronic in-game cheating.
The biggest reason, though, that the commissioner needs to be draconian is not pace of game, but the integrity of this sport. Because this wrongdoing has the whiff of two previous, devastating scandals — the 1919 Black Sox and the Steroid Era.
If the Astros cheated to the extent that is alleged, then they impacted the outcome of games, seasons, statistics and employment. They are not going to be stripped of their 2017 title, just in the way that Barry Bonds remains in the record book as the all-time homer champ and the 1919 Reds are the World Series winner regardless of what the White Sox were doing.
But this is a blight, and it is a blight that the commissioner’s office should do all within its power to make sure does not occur again. And it would be folly to think that teams…