While most of the sport is on the up and up, baseball teams will still sometimes pull out some tricky plays in order to gain an edge on their opponents. The hidden ball trick, the butcher boy bunt, the delayed double steal, and of course, the classic move of setting up a sophisticated technological apparatus to steal signs like the Red Sox are accused of doing to the Yankees. Oh hmm maybe that last one isn't so classic...
The Sox, proving once and for all that the lovable losers thing is a very much dead and buried aspect of their team history, have been caught stealing signs by Major League Baseball, in a process involving a trainer getting the information sent to his Apple Watch before being passed on to the players, the New York Times reports. The way the scheme worked can at least be said to be a revolution in baseball cheating?
According to MLB investigators, the Red Sox's video replay staff sent information on the signals the Yankees' catchers used to call their pitches to a trainer in the dugout. The trainer would get the information on the pitching signs on his Apple Watch, share that information with a player, who would then relay that information to a player standing on second base, who could finally send the signal to the batter at home.
In addition to running this scheme agains the Yankees, the Red Sox were also accused by Major League Baseball of using it against a number of other unnamed teams.
While it's not illegal for a runner on second to let a batter know what pitch is coming (though stealing signs will get you yelled at), it is illegal for players to do it with anything more than their own two eyes. Still, this isn't the first complicated sign-stealing scandal to be discovered in the history of baseball. Famously, the "Shot Heard 'Round The World," a game-winning home run that clinched the National League East for the New York Giants after a furious late-season comeback against the Brooklyn Dodgers, was done with the assistance of a sign-stealing operation run by a spy using a telescope in the team's centerfield clubhouse.
So far, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred hasn't determined what the Red Sox' punishment will be for the spying operation. The Sox football brethren, the New England Patriots, lost a first-round draft pick and were fined $250,000 by the NFL when their own pre-game spying operation was revealed by the Jets.
Red Sox management has yet to publicly comment on the scandal, but the team has now accused the Yankees of having a YES Network camera specifically set aside to steal signs during games (MLB hasn't confirmed that yet). Which, as long as we're here, I would also like to formally complain about the YES Network cameras, which caught me eating lunch on the roof of the Bronx County Courthouse and causing a small incident during an afternoon game in 2007.