The Boston Red Sox have been using an Apple Watch to gain the upper hand while stealing signs, according to a report from Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times.
The investigation began after the Yankees, currently second in the AL East behind the leading Red Sox, filed a complaint with the commissioner’s office about two weeks ago. As Schmidt writes:
The Yankees, who had long been suspicious of the Red Sox stealing catchers’ signs in Fenway Park, contended the video showed a member of the Red Sox training staff looking at his Apple Watch in the dugout and then relaying a message to players, who may have then been able to use the information to know the type of pitch that was going to be thrown, according to the people familiar with the case.
The commissioner’s office reportedly carried out an investigation, corroborating the evidence that the Yankees provided them with video from the league. Once confronted with the findings, the Red Sox “admitted that their trainers had received signals from video replay personnel and then relayed that information to some players — an operation that had been in place for at least several weeks.”
But the drama did not end there — on Tuesday the Red Sox filed a complaint of their own, arguing that the Yankees were using a camera from the YES Network to steal signs themselves, a claim which the Yankees would decline to comment on.
While there’s no rule explicitly against sign-stealing, it is illegal to do so using anything but your eyes. As the commissioner’s office looked over the evidence the Yankees provided, they found that there appeared to be a relay of information that they found troubling.
In the clips, the team’s assistant athletic trainer, Jon Jochim, is seen looking at his Apple Watch and then passing information to outfielder Brock Holt and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who was injured at the time but in uniform. In one instance, Pedroia is then seen passing the information to Young.
As for other evidence of the alleged violation, the Red Sox did seem to bat pretty well with a runner on second during one of the games under investigation, but that could just be a coincidence.
In the first game of the series in question, the first time the Red Sox got a runner on second was Xander Bogaerts, in the second inning. Rafael Devers promptly hit a home run, giving the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. The Red Sox went 5 for 8 in the first game when they had a man on second.
There’s no word yet on potential punishment for the Red Sox. According to Schmidt, some would like to see commissioner Rob Manfred take away wins from the Sox, but some combination of fines and the loss of draft picks is a much more likely scenario.
For his part, Red Sox manager John Farrell says that while he knew players were trying to steal signs, he was unaware of the devices that were being used and thus violated the rules, according to Boston Globe writer Pete Abraham.
“I would have shut that down,” Farrell said.
The Red Sox currently hold a 2.5 game lead over the Yankees in the AL East, with the Yankees leading the AL Wild Card race. If the teams meet again this year, it will be during the postseason.
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