MLB investigates as Boston Red Sox use Apple Watch to gain edge against New York Yankees
Red Sox admit to Major League Baseball they used electronic device to relay signals from Yankees catchers to Boston players, according to report
Looking for any edge in an age-old rivalry, the Boston Red Sox got called out in a hi-tech sign-stealing scheme they ran on the New York Yankees.
The first-place Red Sox admitted to Major League Baseball they used an Apple Watch to relay signals from opposing catchers to Boston players, The New York Times reported.
MLB is looking into allegations levied by the Yankees after a series between the teams last month in Boston.
Sign stealing has long been a part of the game, but employing electronic gadgets to do it is against the rules.
Often times it happens when a runner at second base peers in to see the catcher’s sign and then subtly flashes a signal – maybe a hand movement, or the positioning of his feet – to the batter to let him know whether the next pitch will be a fastball, curveball or something else.
The Times said the Red Sox told MLB investigators Boston manager John Farrell, general Dave Dombrowski and other team executives were not aware of the operation, which had been going on for weeks.
Commissioner Rob Manfred, who was at Fenway Park on Tuesday night as part of a previously planned visit, said he wanted to get the matter resolved quickly. He did not comment about possible penalties.
“The only thing I can tell you about repercussions is to the extent there was a violation on either side – and I’m not saying there was – to the extent there was a violation on either side, we are 100 per cent comfortable it is not an ongoing issue – that if it happened, it is no longer happening,” he said.
This isn’t the first time a successful Boston-area sports franchise has been accused of cheating in recent years.
New England Patriots star Tom Brady was suspended four games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after the “Deflategate” investigation concluded the quarterback conspired to use illegally underinflated footballs in the 2015 AFC championship game. The Pats also were docked a first-round draft pick.
Years earlier, the five-time Super Bowl champions were caught videotaping signals being sent in by Jets coaches during a 2007 game – the Patriots lost a first-round pick in the 2008 draft and coach Bill Belichick was fined US$500,000 in “Spygate”.
The Red Sox hold a narrow lead over the Yankees in the AL East race with a month left in the regular season. The teams do not play again this season.
Farrell said he knew the rule.
“Electronic devices are not to be used in the dugout,” he said before Boston hosted the Toronto Blue Jays. “But beyond that, the only thing I can say it’s a league matter at this point.”
Dombrowski said it was the first time a team he had worked for had been formally accused of stealing signs.
“I’ve been in the game for 40 years. I’ve known of it for 40 years, sign stealing itself,” Dombrowski said. “I’ve known of people I talk to that played back in the ‘50s that talked to me about sign stealing, so I do think sign stealing has been taking place for a long time. I will acknowledge that.”
The Times, according to unidentified sources, said the MLB inquiry started after Yankees general manager Brian Cashman filed a complaint with the commissioner’s office that included video.
The newspaper said the video showed a member of Boston’s training staff looking at his Apple Watch in the dugout and relaying a message to players.
“I think there was something that was suspected of going on,” Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said before Tuesday night’s game in Baltimore.
The Times said the Red Sox filed a complaint against the Yankees, alleging the club used a camera from its YES television network to steal opponents’ signs.
“No chance,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Said Manfred: “I do believe that this is a charged situation from a competitive perspective, when you have the kind of rivalry that the Yankees and the Red Sox have. I guess it’s not shocking you could have charges and counter-charges like this.”
The Times said the Red Sox told MLB investigators that club personnel watched monitors and then electronically sent pitch signals to team trainers in the dugout, who relayed the information to players.
The newspaper said video showed Boston assistant athletic trainer Jon Jochim checking his Apple Watch and relaying the information to Red Sox players Brock Holt and second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The newspaper said one clip showed Pedroia passing along the intelligence to Boston outfielder Chris Young, who formerly played for the Yankees.
The Red Sox won two of three from the Yankees during the August 18-20 series. The Times reported that in the first game, after Boston first put a runner on second, Rafael Devers hit a home run. The Red Sox went five for eight in that game when they had a runner at second and won 9-6.