The Red Sox are still steamed that a PED guy played against them in the playoffs last year

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And not just that: they’re not particularly happy that Nelson Cruz played against them just last week.

This comes from Ken Rosenthal’s story about how several Red Sox players, led by Jonny Gomes, it seems, were at the forefront of the movement to get the changes made to the Joint Drug Agreement we first heard about a couple of weeks ago. Specifically, the stiffer penalties for first and second time offenders and the ban on a player who tests positive for drugs appearing in the playoffs with his team that year, even if his suspension has been served.

Based on the quotes, though, it seems like anything short of lifetime bans for first offenses won’t satisfy these guys. Their take on Jhonny Peralta coming off his suspension to play against Boston in the ALCS last year:

How much conversation was there among the Red Sox?

“A lot,” Boston outfielder Jonny Gomes said.

What was the tone of those conversations?

“Not positive . . .”

“Every time he got a hit, you were just mad,” Ross said. “It wasn’t like something we dwelled upon. But there were remarks made here and there. It’s only natural to not like a guy you feel like is cheating, is on a different level than you are, whether he still is or not.”

And they have an issue with Nelson Cruz too:

“It still makes guys mad,” Ross said. “Nelson Cruz beat us with a home run on Opening Day (this year). You just have that sense of getting beat by a cheater. It hurts a little more than normally when you would just give a guy credit for doing something good. That’s on them, too. That’s something they’ll carry the rest of their playing career, and probably the rest of their lives.”

If it’s more about them “feeling like” guys are cheating, I’m not sure what anyone is supposed to do about it. Even under the new penalties, Ross and Gomes are going to “feel like” someone is cheating after their time is served. And for a lot of people, time goes in both directions. Manny Ramirez didn’t test positive for drugs until after he left Boston, but a lot of people “feel like” he was probably cheating in 2004 and 2007. David Ortiz tested positive for drugs during a trial testing period in 2003, but a lot of people “feel like” he’s still tainted in some way. Just go look at any comment section regarding any post involving David Ortiz ever.

At least Ross is honest, though. When asked if he’d feel differently if one of his teammates was using PEDs he said:

“As human beings, we have a funny way of looking at it,” Ross said. “If it happens to our family, we’ll console ’em. If it happens to an outsider’s family, we’ll condemn him.”

Applause for the players for making the changes to the Joint Drug Agreement that they wanted. But like anything in baseball — everything else in baseball, it seems — people’s ethics on almost every matter of consequence is at least partially dependent upon the jersey worn by the person being considered. Fans do this, the players do this and the media does it too.

I just wish that the acknowledgment of people being “human beings” and thus somewhat understandably possessing situational ethics and a sliding scale of morality was extended to the guys who use PEDs too. Not to excuse them or forgive them, but maybe to demonize them less and understand them a bit more rather than cast them as villains.

Scott Boras: Astros players don’t need to apologize

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Ken Rosenthal spoke to Scott Boras about the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Boras’ take: the Astros need not apologize for what they did. They were mere babes in the woods who were ignorant of everything. I wish I was making this up. Scotty Baby:

“I’m doing what my organization is telling me to do,” Boras said on Wednesday, describing the hypothetical mindset of a player. “You installed this. You put this in front of us. Coaches and managers encourage you to use the information. It is not coming from the player individually. It is coming from the team. In my stadium. Installed. With authority.”

The analogy Boras used was the speed limit.

A man driving 55 mph in a 35-mph zone only believes he is speeding if the limit is clearly posted. Likewise, Boras said Astros’ players who committed infractions only should apologize if they were properly informed of their boundaries.

It’s worth noting two things at this juncture: (1) Scott Boras represents José Altuve and Lance McCullers; and (2) He’s 100% full of crap here. Indeed, the contortions Astros players and their surrogates are putting themselves through to avoid accountability is embarrassing.

The players knew what they were doing.  Please do not insult me by saying they didn’t. Boras is doing what he thinks he needs to do to protect his guys. I get it, that’s his job. His client Altuve in particular stepped on it last weekend when he and other Astros players tried to play the “we’re going to overcome this adversity/no one believed in us” card which played terribly, and the super agent is trying to clean up the mess as best he can. Hat tip to him for his hustle, which he has never not shown. Guy’s a pro.

But he can only do so much because this all remains on the Astros’ players. Yes, the formal punishment is on the manager, the general manager and the club, and I agree that it had to be given all of the complications of the situation, but now that that’s over, it’s time for some honest accountability. And we’re getting zero of it.

Which is insane because the players were given immunity. They’re 100% in the clear. That they cheated has angered a lot of people, but it does not make them irredeemable. As I have noted here many times, lots of others did too. But their lack of accountability over the past couple of weeks speaks very, very poorly of them.

“We crossed a line. No question. We’re sorry. We don’t think it caused us to win anything we didn’t earn, but we see how we created that perception ourselves through our own actions. We shouldn’t have done that. Going forward we’re going to be better. Again, we’re sorry.”

That’s about all it’d take and it’d be done. It’d be pretty easy to say, if for no other reason than because that’s probably what’s gone through their minds anyway. They’re not bad people.

But they’re also observers of America in 2020 and, I suspect, everything they’ve seen, consciously or unconsciously, has counseled against them saying those very simple words or something like them.

Everything that’s going on in America right now — politics especially — tells people that the path to success is to cheat, steal and lie in order to benefit themselves and themselves only. It’s also telling them that, if they get caught, they should lie and deny too. It works. The media, for the most part, will not call anyone of status out on a lie, even if the lie is ridiculous. At most it will repeat the denial like a stenographer reading back from a transcript fearing that to do any more would be to — gasp! — reveal an opinion. “Shlabotnik says that he was cloned by Tralfamadorians and it was his clone, not him, who stole the signs.” Heaven forbid someone add the word “falsely” in there. They won’t because if they do they’re going to be accused of being “biased” or “political” or whatever.

If you see that — and we all see it — why wouldn’t you be predisposed to avoid apologizing for anything? Why wouldn’t you try to offer some canned, facially neutral talking points and hope that everyone is satisfied that you’ve spoken? Why wouldn’t you, having done that for a few weeks, begin to believe that, actually, you’re right not do say anything more. And  that, maybe, you were never in the wrong at all? That’s were we are as a country now, that’s for sure. And given that sports reflects society, it should not be at all surprising that that attitude has infected sports as well.

Astros owner Jim Crane tells Rosenthal that there could be an apology in spring training. “Quite frankly, we’ll apologize for what happened, ask forgiveness and move forward,” Crane said.

One thing I’ve learned in life is that when someone says “quite frankly,” what follows is going to be insincere most of the time. Another thing I’ve learned is that, in comments such as Crane’s, the emphasis is strongly on the “move forward” part of things. He wants an apology to put an end to a bad news cycle. When it comes, it will be P.R.-vetted and couched in the most sterile and corporate language imaginable. It will be anything but sincere.

In the meantime, the rest of the Astros don’t seem to want to offer an apology at all. Why should they? What’s making them?