Add former University of Tennessee player Rick Honeycutt to the list of people who want to see harsh punishment for those involved in the Astros cheating scandal, including Honeycutt’s belief that Alex Cora should be banned from baseball for life.
Honeycutt’s comments were reported by Joseph Dycus in The Chattanoogan this month after speaking to the Chattanooga Rotary Club. Like many others who have followed the Astros scandal, Honeycutt believes stiffer penalties should have been involved.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Astros general managet Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for not stopping the trash-can-banging scheme in Houston. The Astros then fired both of them. No Astros players were punished by Manfred or by the Astros.
Cora, brother of former Vanderbilt player Jose Cora, was fired as manager by the Boston Red Sox based on the findings of the Astros scandal, as was Carlos Beltran, who had just been named in the off-season as manager of the New York Mets. Cora had been bench coach for the Astros in 2017, and Beltran was a player on that team.
Honeycutt, a Chattanooga native who still lives in the Chattanooga area, was pitching coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers for 14 years, before taking a role as a special assistant and handing the coaching job to former Vanderbilt pitcher Mark Prior.
Honeycutt was thus one of the Dodgers family who had to wince at revelations of the Astros’ cheating. The Dodgers lost the World Series to the Astros in 2017, when the cheating was found from earlier that season. Conflicting views exist as to whether the Astros cheated during the World Series against Los Angeles.
An investigation into potential rules violations by the Red Sox continues. Cora was manager of the 2018 Red Sox team that won the World Series over the Dodgers. In Honeycutt’s quote by Dycus he uses Jose Cora’s name, but it is clear he is referring to Alex Cora.
“They haven’t even come out with what they’re going to do to Boston yet, but their manager was part of the problem there in Houston,” Honeycutt said in The Chattanoogan story. “I know Jose Cora very well, but I think that he should be banned for life. He pretty much coordinated this process.”
Honeycutt believes there should have been penalties for Astros players.
“They gave immunity for their cooperation, but I feel like, when it first came out, they were like ‘OK, whatever,’ Honeycutt said to The Chattanoogan. “But I think now, when it comes out more, and baseball doesn’t want it to come out because it’s a black eye for baseball. But at the same time, there should be consequences for what they did, more than (what was handed down Major League Baseball).”
He suggested that those who benefited shouldn’t be allowed to escape punishment.
“Their manager and general manager got fired, but not for life. They got fired, and some other people got fired, but no player was punished and they’re the ones who benefited,” said Honeycutt. “They benefited with getting the World Series ring and being called a champion. Some of them got multi-year deals after that. Those are all things that you have to look at.”
Honeycutt knows about cheating. He was caught using a thumbtack to scuff a baseball as a pitcher in 1980. He was ejected from the game and suspended.
“Like for me, these guys have gotten caught,” Honeycutt told The Chattanoogan. “When I got caught, I at least got suspended for 10 games.”
The Chattanooga Times Free Press also interviewed Honeycutt recently, and he said there is no room for using technology to steal signs, as the Astros did.
“The commissioner has gotten to the nuts and bolts of what happened and what the Astros were doing,” Honeycutt told the Times Free Press. “We had plenty of thoughts, but nobody knew exactly to what extent, especially setting up a camera in center field and being able to relay that. You’ve always had guys trying to give the location of pitches when they’re on second base, but obviously this was to another level.
“Whether or not you agree or disagree with the punishment, at least the cat is out of the bag. Baseball wants to play the game on the field and not electronically, and we’ll see how things go moving forward.”