As a week filled with news about cheating in baseball drew to a close, MLB acted like a rapid response team to defend two of the sport's biggest stars against claims of misconduct.
Let's start with the second rescue mission: On Friday, MLB and the Players Association banded together to refute a claim — which had been earlier denied by the source himself — that Angels center fielder Mike Trout received a therapeutic use exemption, or TUE, to use human growth hormone.
The joint MLB-MLBPA release did not mention Trout by name, but there was no other reason to issue a statement on a random Friday in the offseason.
The statement came out a day after it was reported that David Brosius, the son of former Mariners third base coach Scott Brosius, wrote on Instagram that Trout had received the TUE for HGH to treat a thyroid condition and that baseball was keeping it a secret.
David Brosius apologized to Trout via IG on Thursday (the account is now private, but the post was, of course, screen-capped) and said he was only using Trout's name to explain the process of granting TUEs.
"The example I used of Mike Trout does not stem from information from my Dad or sources within the MLB and has no evidence behind it," Brosius wrote in the post. "I had no intention of this becoming an accusation against Mike Trout or causing the uproar it did."
The Trout kerfuffle followed on the heels of a wild news cycle in which a Twitter user claiming to be the niece of former Mets manager Carlos Beltran alleged that Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and third baseman Alex Bregman were tipped off about pitches last season via buzzers that were taped to their bodies. Once that claim hit the internets, multiple tweets purported to show Astros outfielder Josh Reddick still wearing such a device while celebrating the Astros' ALCS victory over the Yankees. (Reddick's wife tweeted in response that it was confetti on her husband's chest.)
Then there was video of Altuve not wanting teammates to rip off his jersey after hitting a series-ending walk-off home run off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, and of Altuve sheepishly telling Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal in a postgame interview that he kept his shirt on so as to not get in trouble with his wife.
The allegations against Altuve and Bregman came out after Beltran and the Mets parted ways Thursday afternoon. Beltran was named in MLB commissioner Rob Manfred's report Monday on sign-stealing by the Astros in 2017 and 2018. Beltran was the third MLB manager dismissed in the wake of the report: The Astros fired A.J. Hinch on Monday, and the Red Sox dismissed Alex Cora, Hinch's bench coach in 2017 and the supposed mastermind of the sign-stealing scheme, on Tuesday. (Per The Athletic, MLB is investigating possible sign-stealing by the Red Sox under Cora in 2018.)
MLB announced shortly after the tweet by the "niece" it "explored wearable devices during the investigation but found no evidence to substantiate it." (via Joel Sherman of the New York Post and MLB Network)
Altuve, through his agent, Scott Boras, denied the claims.
"Jose Altuve called me and said he wants it known that he has never, ever worn an electronic device in a major league game — ever," Boras told Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci.
Beltran's family told ESPN's Marly Rivera that the "niece" was not a relative. Gary Sheffield Jr., son of the former MLB slugger, tweeted that he believed the account was, in fact, a player's burner account.
Burner, you say? There was suspicion in the days before Beltran's departure from the Mets that he had created his own burner (with the handle @B15Ivan, Ivan being Beltran's middle name) to defend himself. On Thursday, "Ivan B" questioned whether Yankees players Gio Urshela and Mike Tauchman got illegal help last year in posting career-best numbers at the plate. Beltran was a special adviser to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman in 2019.
Oh, and there also was this drama around the Yankees and the Beltran "niece" account: Barstool Sports' Jared Carrabis posted a screenshot of what appeared to be a reply from the account, with an allegation that the Yankees use a video feed to tip off infielder Gleyber Torres, who supposedly wears something on his left leg.
All of that explains this adaptation of the hallway scene from the movie "Mean Girls":
Everything You Need To Know About The Current State Of Major League Baseball As Told By Mean Girls pic.twitter.com/2HrKoY0yJc— Julia (@jquadddddd) January 17, 2020
With more allegations of cheating surely on the way (former pitcher Jack McDowell uncorked one from 30 years ago on Friday), MLB better stay on the top step to keep this offseason from becoming a full-on brawl on social media.