I’m a Red Sox fan. I just wanted to get that out of the way in case you came here looking for an unbiased view on all the Red Sox/Yankee shenanigans over the last few days. To review:
The New York Times came out with an article saying that the Red Sox were using apple watches to steal signs against the Yankees during games in early August. According to their calculations, the Red Sox went 5-8 during a game in August when there was a runner on second, so the natural conclusion is that they were cheating and not, you know, professional baseball players. Did Red Sox personnel use apple watches to steal signs? It sure sounds like it. Did stealing those signs effect the outcome of the game? It’s impossible to say, which is why people overreacting, including MLB insider Jon Heyman, look so foolish. You can’t vacate wins when you don’t know the effect the sign stealing had on the games, and while using technology is a definite no-no when it comes to sign stealing, the act of stealing signs has been an accepted part of the game forever.
The Sox should face some punishment, because again, you can’t use technology to your advantage in these type of situations, but Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post brings up another good point: the MLB needs to figure out it’s relationship with technology if it wants to avoid situations like this in the future. Managers can use tablets, while players and personnel can use cellphones and other devices as long at they’re not physically in the dugout. All of those devices can be used to legally gain insight on a pitcher or hitter during the game. Add in MLB’s newfound love of instant replay and you have a sport that both embraces and bans technology, depending on the moment.
While most instances of sign stealing are dealt with between the two teams, the Yankees are in the middle of a pennant race trying to catch the first place Red Sox, which obviously factored into their decision to take this directly to the league office. If the Red Sox were a last place team, would this issue even be made public? I doubt it. The newest accusation by the Yankees is that Doug Fister was using an earpiece to relay audio to himself during his win over the Yankees last weekend. That ‘earpiece’ ended up being Fister’s mouth guard. The Red Sox and Yankees don’t play each other again in the regular season, but if they do happen to meet up in the playoffs, be on the lookout for Mookie Betts high tech brain wave reader that looks conspicuously like a baseball hat.