According to The New York Times, the MLB has determined that the first-place Red Sox stole hand signals from the opponent’s catchers during a recent Yankees series and possibly during games against other teams.
Here’s how it worked:
The Red Sox’s video replay personnel were obtaining hand signs from live footage and messaging (likely just using iMessage or SMS) the information to an Apple Watch worn by a member of the Red Sox training staff in the dugout. The trainer then relayed that information to some players on the field.
Confusing? Here’s some quick background for anyone who isn’t a baseball fan — catchers communicate with pitchers and tell them which pitches to throw via hand signals. This information is tremendously useful to the opposing team — if a batter knows which type of pitch (like a curveball or fastball) is coming in advance, they have a much better chance of hitting it.
In the old days, the only reliable way to intercept signs was to have a runner on second base who could look at which signs the pitcher was getting and try to relay them to the batter. But now, with live video streams and real-time communication devices (like the Apple Watch), it’s getting easier.
And, of course, the Yankees were the ones who caught them red-handed, subsequently turning over to the league footage of the Red Sox’s assistant athletic director looking at his Apple Watch and then passing information to other players. And just in case you forgot the teams are bitter rivals, the Red Sox have filed a counter-claim alleging that the Yankees are using a camera from their TV network to also steal signs during games.
To be clear, stealing signs is pretty common in baseball… and allowed if the teams only use their own eyes and signals or voices to convey what they saw. But using replay technology and an Apple Watch to electronically speed up the process isn’t allowed, and the league may end up fining the Red Sox (and any other team that is doing similar things).
The only question left is who gave the Red Sox the idea to use an Apple Watch like this? We have at least one guess…