The Yankees and Red Sox have played their last regular season game against each other this year, but that hasn’t kept the rivalry out of the headlines.
On Tuesday, the Yankees broke a story they had been sitting on for weeks to the New York Times, regarding catching the Red Sox red handed using electronic devices to steal signs in a video they sent to the MLB office. The incident occurred during a three-game series at Fenway Park last month, out of which the Red Sox won two games. Before the Times story broke Tuesday, the Red Sox had already admitted to the allegations internally to the league.
“The Red Sox have been 100 percent fully cooperative with us in this investigation,’’ MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday at a previously-scheduled press conference at Fenway Park.
From a Red Sox fan’s perspective, it seems the Yankees were waiting for an opportune time to unleash the media storm on their rival, this week seeing the two teams tighten to within three-and-a-half games of each other for the division lead.
Sign-stealing has always been one of the unwritten rules of baseball, allowed to go on if done correctly. Commissioner Manfred himself said that there is no written rule against sign-stealing. There is, however, a rule against the use of electronic devices in the dugout.
Sign-stealing is generally expected when a team has a runner at second base who can peer toward home plate, see the fingers the catcher is holding down, and possibly make an agreed-upon signal to his teammate at bat about what the pitch might be. This occurs daily and is generally thwarted by the other team changing its signs when a runner is at second base.
Where the Yankees claim the Red Sox crossed a line is with the use of Apple watches to expedite and gain an unfair advantage in this sign-stealing cat and mouse process. The Yankees captured on video one of the Red Sox bench coaches peering down at his Apple watch during an at-bat turn in which a runner was at second base. The coach then makes a signal to a player in the dugout, who then makes a signal to the player at second base, who presumably then made a signal to the batter.
Thus, it wasn’t from the adept eyesight or sign-stealing foresight of the runner at second base that they knew the signs, but from a message relayed from the Red Sox camera crew to a bench coach with an Apple watch in the dugout. The Red Sox were, indeed, a very good 9-24 during the series with men at second base.
In the end, the announcement was mostly a ploy by the Yankees to rattle the focus of the Red Sox as they fight to finish out September and win the division. The Yankees’ manager and players said they do believe it constitutes an unfair advantage, but don’t think it’ll add any more fuel to the already heated rivalry.
Third basemen Chase Headley said he heard “rumblings” of impropriety during the series.
“There’s a line that can be crossed on how you do that,” Headley said. “The technological aspect is the biggest thing. It’s a fine line. There’s [sic] so many cameras out there and so much information available. It’s how you use it. I don’t think anyone’s surprised.”
But neither he nor manager Joe Girardi believed it would add fuel to the rivalry between the teams
“Do I think it’s right? No,” Headley said. “But do I want to beat the Red Sox more now? No.”
“We assume that everyone’s doing it, just to protect ourselves,” Girardi said. “Now, I’m not saying that everyone is doing it. But I think, as a team, that everyone tries to do something.”
Asked if the Yankees were included, Girardi said: “You can assume what you want.”
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