Siri, What’s That Sign Mean?
You can steal a base, but you can’t steal signs?
In a story in The New York Times, it was revealed the Boston Red Sox used Apple Watches in a scheme to steal signs against the New York Yankees.
None of this was technically cheating, but more of the time-honored tradition of stealing the other team’s signs. It may be frowned upon and seen as cheating, but they really just found a way to steal signs that weren’t technically illegal. You know how I know Boston didn’t break any rules? They won’t get fined one red cent.
Michael B Schmidt lays it all out in his article:
Investigators for Major League Baseball have determined that the Boston Red Sox, who are in first place in the American League East and likely headed to the playoffs, executed a scheme to illicitly steal hand signals from opponents’ catchers in games against the second-place Yankees and other teams, according to several people briefed on the matter. […]
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.
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.
It’s important to remember smartphones are banned, but Apple Watches are still allowed in the dugout. There is also an experiment with iPad Pros in the dugout without internet capabilities, but it’s completely different since coaches can’t use them to watch the game from a TV broadcast.
The Times also put together a really cool illustration explaining how the whole thing worked. Basically, they decoded the Yankee’s signs, relayed the decoded signs to the dugout via trainers wearing Apple Watches, and then told the players the signs. It was up to a player on second to tell the batter what the sign was via some sort of signal. Pretty elaborate but not impossible.
Major League Baseball will just ban Apple Watches for all personnel with dugout access during a game. It won’t stop sign stealing but will stop this kind of scheme.