The Boston Red Sox were said to have illegally stolen signs in the 2018 season -- a World Series championship season -- and commissioner Rob Manfred's investigative report confirmed those suspicions on Wednesday. Video replay operator J.T. Watkins was found to have used video to illegally steal signs in real time.

"I find that J.T. Watkins, the Red Sox video replay system operator, on at least some occasions during the 2018 regular season, utilized the game feeds in the replay room, in violation of MLB regulations, to revise sign sequence information that he had permissibly provided to players prior to the game," Manfred said in his report.

Following the report's release, Red Sox ownership held a conference call with Manfred and the other 29 owners to apologize for the sign-stealing scandal. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe has the details:

In a call on Wednesday with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and the other 29 club owners, (owner John) Henry and Red Sox chairman Tom Werner took responsibility for the rules violations outlined in the report and apologized to their fellow owners. They specifically apologized to members of the Dodgers and Yankees organizations, whose players and officials were put in the position of having to answer a litany of questions during spring training about whether the Red Sox championship should be viewed as tainted. 

The infractions, Henry wrote (in an email), resulted in the lengthy investigation that in turn "created a terrible environment [for those teams] for a prolonged period [at the start of 2020]." 

In addition to being the sport's two marquee franchises, the Dodgers and Yankees were eliminated by the Astros and Red Sox during their tainted seasons. Los Angeles lost the 2017 World Series to Houston and the 2018 World Series to Boston. The Yankees were eliminated by the Astros in the 2017 ALCS and the Red Sox in the 2018 ALDS. Houston was of course found to have stolen signs in 2017 and 2018.

Dodgers star and reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger called out the Red Sox (and Astros) during spring training, adding "we did it the right way." Former Yankees lefty CC Sabathia was a bit more blunt, saying "we got cheated out (by) a team kind of doing something that's not within the rules of the game." Other Dodgers and Yankees players had a similar sentiment.

If nothing else, the Red Sox discipline was released at a good time for MLB. It'll be quickly lost in the news cycle to Thursday's NFL Draft, and the 2020 MLB season is still weeks away from beginning, perhaps months. Sign-stealing fatigue has already set in and, when baseball returns, the focus will be on the games, not punishment that was handed down some time ago.