Retired Braves and Astros catcher Brian McCann has received national media criticism for his silence regarding the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal.
The longtime Braves catcher was a standout for the Astros' 2017 World Series championship team, recently found to have carried out the electronic cheating scheme.
McCann also played for the Astros' 2018 playoffs team before returning to the Braves last season. The respected former all-star has so far not commented on an MLB investigation that led to the firing of Astros manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow.
While sportswriters elsewhere have blasted McCann, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has given the Braves fan favorite a free pass until longtime columnist Mark Bradley on Tuesday cited McCann's not speaking about the investigation. Bradley mentioned McCann far down into a column castigating MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's handling of the scandal.
McCann, a hometown hero who began his career with several stellar seasons for the Braves before joining the Yankees and Astros, announced his retirement after last year's return to Atlanta. Involvement in the sign-stealing campaign would mar McCann's reputation as a steadfast enforcer of baseball's traditions and the game's integrity.
Manfred has drawn criticism for not punishing any of the players who participated in the cheating effort, in which opposing teams' signals were transferred to the Astros dugout from a center-field TV monitor. Houston players would then bang on a trash can to tell Astros hitters which pitch was coming.
The commissioner suspended Hinch and Luhnow, but announced that no action would be taken against any players involved. Hinch and Luhnow were immediately fired by the Astros.
The investigation also led to the firing of Boston manager Alex Cora, a coach for the Astros before leading the Red Sox to the World Series title last year. Carlos Beltran, who retired after playing for the Astros' championship team, was fired by the Mets soon after being named the team's manager.
Bradley cited reports that Manfred gave the players immunity if they agreed to participate in the investigation. Manfred said that he didn't want to penalize other teams that had signed Astros players. He reportedly also wanted to avoid conflict with the players' union.
Unlike Manfred, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis possessed unlimited power in 1921 when he banned eight White Sox players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds after receiving payoffs from gamblers. The Black Sox players, found not guilty in a Chicago court, had no union.
If Manfred had been commissioner in 1921, Shoeless Joe Jackson might have landed in the Hall of Fame instead of being banished from the game.