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Is Boston Title Town Or Cheater Town?04:32
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Former Red Sox manager Alex Cora celebrated the team's 2018 World Series championship at a parade in Boston in October of that year. (Charles Krupa/AP)
Former Red Sox manager Alex Cora celebrated the team's 2018 World Series championship at a parade in Boston in October of that year. (Charles Krupa/AP)

There was Spygate. Then Deflategate. Now, there's whatever we call the cheating scandal, involving stolen signs and clanging trash cans, that has led to Alex Cora's ouster as Red Sox manager.

"'Trashgate' or something like that," offered Wall Street Journal sports columnist Jason Gay. "I think that's the proper 'gate.'"

Though Gay is a Massachusetts native, he and some other sports fans say it's time for Boston to admit that Title Town is really Cheater Town.

Naturally, local diehards aren't about to make any such concession.

Across from Fenway Park Wednesday, Miguel Colón wheeled a dolly of beer into the House of Blues, sporting a hat that celebrates the Red Sox's most recent World Series championship — a championship he insists the team earned, even as Major League Baseball investigates allegations of cheating during that 2018 title run.

"Nothing that anybody else hasn't done, obviously, since the Astros got caught too," Colón said, referring to an MLB probe of the Houston Astros, which found that the team illegally used a video feed to steal hand signs indicating the types of pitches opponents would throw. Players in the dugout then relayed the contraband info to teammates in the batter's box by banging a trash can.

This was in 2017, when Cora was one of the Astros' coaches. MLB says Cora played a central role in the scheme — and is looking into whether he ran a similar operation in Boston.

Colón contends the scrutiny is driven by envy of Boston sports teams' 12 championships in the past two decades.

"Of course," he said. "Always hating on Boston."

In other words: They hate us 'cause they ain't us. This has become a popular mantra of Boston sports fans, as charges of foul play pile up. Right now, the Patriots are also under investigation, by the NFL, for illegally video taping another team's sideline. Again.

Boston fans' feelings of persecution are so strong that they've spread all the way to Belgium, where Lukas Pultheel is from.

"If you have a great franchise, people are always going to be jealous and mad, and they're always going to come at you with these kinds of allegations," he said.

Wearing a Celtics hat, Pultheel explained that he started following Boston teams in his home country when he struck up a long-distance relationship with a woman from New Hampshire.

He's now part of a fan club that refuses to see Boston teams for the cheaters they are, according to Gay.

Gay has a suggestion: "Put together a nice banner for yourself: 'Best At Cheating.' And raise that to the rafters."

For the record, Boston may, in fact, be the best at cheating. And not just in sports.

Remember the card counters who won millions playing blackjack and inspired the movie "21"? They were from MIT.

When Ashley Madison, the dating site for married people, ranks cities with the most infidelity, Boston is consistently among the leaders.

Going way back in history, locals who wanted to cheat their way out of British taxes staged a little something called the Boston Tea Party and helped set America on the path to independence. So, maybe Boston should raise that "Best At Cheating" banner proudly.

"Not just in Boston, but I'll say across high-performing organizations we do see a surprising number of leaders and managers engaging in misconduct," said Eugene Soltes, who studies fraud as a professor at Harvard Business School.

Soltes has written a book about white-collar crime, "Why They Do It," and says cheaters often have many genuine accomplishments.

"Maybe a high-performing sports athlete and a high-performing executive or manager are not so different," he said. "Someone that seemingly has it all."

In sports, Boston does seem to have it all. All four major teams have won championships since 2008.

Back outside Fenway Park, two friends from Texas said they view those victories with suspicion.

"There's always something going on up here," said Rangers fan David Renning. "And they're always winning. So, I feel like somebody's gotta look at it a little deeper and, I don't know, do something about it."

Renning's pal, Brandon Motes, feels much the same but said he grudgingly respects Boston's trophy collection.

"There has been a lot of scandals, but they've consistently won for a long time," he acknowledged. "So, they have to be doing something right."

Perhaps, then, Boston isn't Title Town or Cheater Town. It could be a little of both.

This segment aired on January 16, 2020.

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Callum Borchers Twitter Reporter
Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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