The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry hasn’t been particularly contentious for a while, with the last waypoint being that time Boston called out Michael Pineda for the obvious pine tar on his hand. Maybe a good sign-stealing feud will bring it back.
Per Michael Schmidt of the New York Times, MLB investigated the Red Sox after the Yankees accused their divisional rivals of stealing signs using a smartwatch. Yankees GM Brian Cashman reportedly filed a complaint with video and specifically pointed to the Aug. 18-20 three-game series at Fenway Park. From Schmidt:
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 when they were hitting, according to the people familiar with the case.
Baseball investigators corroborated the Yankees’ claims based on video the commissioner’s office uses for instant replay and broadcasts, the people said. The commissioner’s office then confronted the Red Sox, who 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.
That’s what makes this such a gloriously stupid and perfect baseball scandal—the actual act of stealing signs isn’t illegal (though it is frowned upon), but using technology is.
How this appears to have worked: Red Sox video replay employees were able to decode which signs corresponded with which pitches, and relayed that information to dugout via the trainer’s watch, which was then passed along to a runner on second base. That runner, now knowing what each sign means, could alert the batter to what was coming. This could theoretically be done without the smartwatch, but it speeds up the entire process and makes it plausible to pull off within a single at-bat. (Teams change their signs each time a runner is on second.)
In Cashman’s submitted claim, Red Sox players Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt, and Chris Young, as well as one team trainer, were involved in the process of moving the information along:
The video provided to the commissioner’s office by the Yankees was captured during the first two games of the series and included at least three clips. 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.
Also considered evidence in the Yankees’ eyes is that Rafael Devers and the Red Sox went 5-for-8 in the first game of the series with a man on second. In the second and third game, Boston was 1-for-6 and 3-for-10, respectively.
In an effort to defend themselves, or just an admirable act of pettiness, the Red Sox filed their own complaint today, accusing the Yankees of using a YES Network camera “exclusively to steal signs during games.”