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Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has suspended Red Sox video replay system operator J.T. Watkins for the 2020 season and docked Boston a second-round pick, following an investigation into 2018 sign-stealing allegations,

Why it matters: After months of speculation regarding the severity of Boston's wrongdoings and expected punishments, MLB found the Red Sox scheme far less devious than the Astros' scheme, holding just one low-level staffer responsible for the whole thing.

  • Manfred also suspended former Red Sox manager Alex Cora through the 2020 postseason, though that was exclusively for his role as the Astros bench coach in 2017, The Athletic reports.

What they're saying: Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy issued a statement, saying "MLB acknowledged the front office's extensive efforts to communicate and enforce the rules and concluded that Alex Cora, the coaching staff, and most of the players did not engage in, nor were they aware of, any violations."

  • According to Manfred, many players told investigators that "they were unaware that in-game sign decoding from the replay station had been prohibited in 2018 and 2019."
  • That's despite the now-famous Apple Watch incident of 2017, which Manfred used as the impetus to create guidelines regarding the legal use of technology during games.
  • In other words, those players either lied to investigators or kept their headphones on during the front office's aforementioned "extensive efforts to communicate and enforce the rules." Either way, not a great look.

The bottom line: With everyone's attention on coronavirus, MLB was glad to have the Astros scandal mostly in the rearview, but the shadow of an unfinished investigation into the Red Sox still hung over the league.

  • By releasing his findings on the eve of the NFL draft, Manfred effectively tried to bury what he hopes is the final chapter of the worst scandal to hit baseball since the steroid era.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

5 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.