MLB: World Series-Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers

Pitcher Chris Sale clutches the championship trophy after the Red Sox beat the Dodgers to win the 2018 World Series.

PUTTING IT into “Law & Order” terms, the Red Sox skated.

They beat the rap on 2018 sign stealing.

Well, almost.

No suspensions of anyone who matters. No fine. It’s hard to imagine things turning out any better for Boston’s baseball team.

The decision, so often delayed as we continue to wait for a season that may never happen, came down Wednesday, right between the Patriots trading Rob Gronkowski and the NFL draft.

Forget the asterisk for 2018. The Sox skated.

Perhaps they were expected to and deserved to be cleared of any significant wrongdoing. We will never know that for sure. Rob Manfred ruled, a second-round draft pick in a compromised draft was lost, and Ron Roenicke is no longer an INTERIM manager.

“As an organization, we strive for 100% compliance with the rules,” said team president Sam Kennedy in a statement. “MLB’s investigation concluded that in isolated instances during the 2018 regular season, sign sequences were decoded through the use of live game video rather than through permissible means.

“MLB acknowledged the front office’s extensive efforts to communicate and enforce the rules and concluded that Alex Cora, the coaching staff, and most of the players did not engage in, nor were they aware of, any violations. Regardless, these rule violations are unacceptable. We apologize to our fans and Major League Baseball, and accept the Commissioner’s ruling.”

The only thing missing from his comments was a heavy exhale and the word “Phewww!”

As far as the pick, it was pointed out in Thursday’s Boston Globe that second-round draft picks can be significant. Fred Lynn, Jon Lester and Dustin Pedroia were all taken in the second. But, seriously, folks … this punishment is light and could have been so much worse.

Sox detractors will continue to use an asterisk when talking about 2018. Meanwhile, Sox lovers, like those who root for all the New England teams, will cry fake news this was even an issue. That the Sox were being picked on.

Speculation immediately ran rampant that with Cora cleared, he would return in 2021 — after serving his one-year MLB suspension while with Houston.

Kennedy made it clear that’s not going to happen, but also said he thinks Cora deserved another chance; apparently somewhere else.

“I do,” Kennedy said of Cora deserving a second chance. “That’s my personal feeling. He does need to go through a rehab process. What he did (in Houston) was wrong. He acknowledged that to us and apologized to us. I’m a big believer in second chances, so we all wish him well.”

Unlike with AJ Hinch in Houston, there hasn’t been much public support for Cora, who managed the greatest team in Red Sox history to that title in ’18. This could help him get back in the game.

Brady sacked

The house — Derek Jeter’s house — Tom Brady is living in down in Florida has over 30,000 square feet of living space to rattle around in. Yet Brady took to a public park in Tampa – and suffered his first sack on the new job. He was caught working out in a closed park.

“Our parks are closed down, and so a lot of our parks staff, they patrol around just to make sure that people aren’t taking part in contact sports or anything,” said Tampa mayor Jane Castor. “They saw an individual working out in one of our downtown parks, and she went over to tell him that it was closed, and it was Tom Brady.”

Later in the week, TMZ reported Brady entered the wrong house when there to meet with Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

“I literally was just sitting here and I watch this tall guy just walk into my house,” said David Kramer, who lives in the house next to Leftwich. “He didn’t even look at me. He just like dropped his duffel bags down on the floor and just kind of like looked up at me and I’ll never forget the look on his face. He just goes: ‘Am I in the wrong house?!’”

Lucky Kramer didn’t kill Brady as an intruder.

Note to (Just?) Kramer: LOCK YOUR DOOR!!!

Tweeted Brady, finding the humor in a tough week: “Trespassing in parks, breaking and entering … Just making myself at home in Tampa Bay!”

More Brady: former Pat Asante Samuel is clearly backing the QB in the Patriots polarizing celebrity divorce.

“I think Bill Belichick needed Tom to be successful,” he tweeted. “Do you think Tom needs Bill??? My answer is Nooo. Talk to me.”

Edelman next?

As soon as Tom Brady signed with Tampa Bay, thoughts turned to Bill Belichick trading Julian Edelman to the Bucs for a Brady reunion. That didn’t happen, but Belichick did send Rob Gronkowski down there.

Surprised? Yes. Shocked?

With Belichick, never!

As one social media voice said: “Bill just got a fourth-round pick for a wrestler.” There are no emotions for this man when it comes to this stuff.

Now that Gronk is returning to football, you have to wonder if a four-game suspension for his use and public support of CBD (banned by the league for some silly reason) is waiting for him. Think Benjamin Watson on this one.

Edelman? A Gronk return to New England would have created salary cap problems. Edelman is already part of the payroll.

Gronk, who has suddenly regained his zest for football, said he and Brady had talked about a reunion for some time.

The Patriots announced their three finalists for the annual Pats Hall of Fame choice. You can go to and vote for either Bill Parcells, Richard Seymour or Mike Vrabel as the 30th Famer. The trio was picked over Wes Welker and Logan Mankins. The winner will be announced May 15.

Spoiler alert: I already voted for Parcells, who, despite his crazy way of leaving at the end, combined with Bob Kraft to keep the team in New England. Worked out OK, didn’t it?

Big and bad

While Bruins players got together — virtually, of course — to watch Game 7 of the 2011 finals, it was announced that the NHL Network, which has done what it can to bring us hockey content during isolation, will debut “The 1970 Bruins: Big, Bad & Bobby” on May 10 at 8 p.m.

From the release headline on the 50th anniversary celebration: “Massachusetts Natives Mike Eruzione, Denis Leary, Howie Long, Kevin Paul Dupont and Jackie MacMullan Provide Their First-Hand Experiences Rooting for this Legendary Team”

Finally, why do I have the feeling that if and when baseball returns (sorry, but that’s anything but a sure thing), MLB will delay the rule mandating a pitcher face at least three batters, until 2021? It would seem to make sense, as would robot home plate umpires to keep things at least spread out.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.