Three thoughts on the Boston Red Sox sign-stealing scandal

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 01: Doug Fister
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 01: Doug Fister /

The Boston Red Sox became the latest New England sports team involved in a cheating scandal as the team was accused of electronically stealing signs. 

Here we go again.  On Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox admitted that the team used electronic communication from the dugout to steal signs and relay them to players.  The electronic device used was an Apple Watch.  The team that filed the complaint was no other than the New York Yankees.

As news of the investigation was first reported by the New York Times, ESPN’s Buster Olney added to the report that the Yankees filed a formal complaint against the Sox on July 18.

While the sign stealing in general is not against league rules, using a device like the Apple Watch took it to a new level.  In accordance with league investigation, the Red Sox was not only forthcoming, but admitted to the accusations.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred addressed the situation by stating the following:

"“We actually do not have a rule against sign-stealing,” Manfred said, via ESPN.  “It has been apart of the game for a very, very long time.  To the extent that there was a violation of the rule here, it was a violation by one or the other [team] that involved the use of electronic equipment.  It’s the electronic equipment that creates the violation.   I think the rule against electronic equipment has a number of policy reasons behind it, but one of them is we don’t want to escalate attempts to figure out what a pitcher is going to throw by introducing electronics into that mix.”"

Manfred went on to say that he doesn’t feel that this situation will be an ongoing issue.  As far as potential punishment, I don’t see anything more than a hefty fine for the violation.  There are others who believe punishment should include vacating victories or potential suspensions.  Docking of draft picks seem unlikely, but shouldn’t be counted out.

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – AUGUST 8: Manager John Farrell
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – AUGUST 8: Manager John Farrell /

The Boston Red Sox did counter a complaint against the New York Yankees accusing them of using their television network to steal signs.  This leads to the following three thoughts.

More fuel added to the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry

The Boston Red Sox are currently 3 ½ games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East.  In a heated rivalry that seemed dormant prior to this season, the two teams are rejuvenating one of the most storied two-team battles in all sports.

If you think Red Sox fans haven’t found a reason to revive their hatred towards the pin stripes, this cheating complaint may actually fuel that hatred to a new height.

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On the field, players like Aaron Judge and Andrew Benintendi are contributing to the competitive nature between the two teams.  Whether at Yankees Stadium or Fenway Park, the two teams have put together some compelling games over the last couple months.

Now that the teams are accusing each other of cheating, that intensity on the field will only grow to greater heights, especially if they somehow meet in the playoffs.

 They didn’t benefit from the cheating

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Now, let’s focus on the embarrassment of the accusation.

Boston Red Sox offense has been bad in the games they were seen stealing signs.  If there was any benefit, you would think the team would’ve been more explosive offensively.

Just like the New England Patriots with Spygate and Deflategate, the alleged acts of cheating were not beneficial when it came down to wins or losses.  A team still must execute and “AppleWatch-gate” is just another example of gamesmanship having little or no effect on the actual game. 

Everybody cheats

Everyone steals signs in the MLB.  The commissioner admitted it in the statement above.  It is a part of baseball whether some fans like it or not.

If you are not cheating you are not trying, they say.  But, the Boston Red Sox using an electronic device seemed lazier than trying.

As Dave Dombrowski stated in his own statement addressing the situation, any wrong doing associated with sign-stealing depends on “how you do it.”.  Maybe, the Yankees were more upset that the Red Sox found a way to use a device to steal their signs.  Or, perhaps the Bronx Bombers are out to distract the AL East leaders out of first place.

Next: Boston Red Sox: Why team is headed towards a September swoon

Who knows with these two franchises.