ARLINGTON, Texas — Rob Manfred sounds prepared to turn a smoking gun on the Astros.
The baseball commissioner made clear Thursday, during a news conference at the conclusion of the owners’ meetings, that the penalties for illegally, electronically stealing signs from opponents changed immediately and dramatically on Sept. 15, 2017, the day he publicly divulged — in the wake of the Red Sox-Yankees Apple Watch scandal — that all 30 teams had been informed of a new discipline protocol, including lost draft picks, for this offense.
Just six days later, the Astros sure as heck appeared to use an illegal, electronic sign-stealing system at Minute Maid Park against the White Sox, whose pitcher, Danny Farquhar, voiced the allegations to The Athletic. Jomboy Media then quickly produced what appeared to be substantiating video evidence, complete with the banging of a garbage can heard whenever Farquhar’s catcher, Kevan Smith, signaled for a changeup.
“I take myself seriously. I do,” Manfred said. “I think that when this began to bubble up during the ’17 season, I looked backward at how the issue had been dealt with. … I wrote what I wrote because I did not…