It’s early September, the pennant races are heating up, the Red Sox and Yankees are battling each other in the AL East, which means it’s time for – CODE TALK. Hell, yes! Time to get into the nuance and details of the unwritten rules of America’s pastime.
The New York Times dropped a report that the Red Sox were busted for cheating against the Yankees and other teams. And that cheating? Stealing signs. But the best part isn’t that they were stealing signs, because really, that’s not even cheating. It’s not that they were ripping signs. It’s HOW they were doing it.
The Yankees reportedly believed that the Sox had been cheating for a while because they were hitting pitches that shouldn’t have been expected. So the Yankees went to work and came up with a video that, according to the Times, they claim “showed a member of the Red Sox training staff looking at his Apple Watch in the dugout. The trainer then relayed a message to other players in the dugout, who, in turn, would signal teammates on the field about the type of pitch that was about to be thrown, according to the people familiar with the case.”
So someone would signal the trainer on his Apple Watch about the pitch, he would tell a player and then the player would signal to teammates on the field. Freaking fantastic. A true symphony of awesomeness. And the best part is… someone finally found a use for an Apple Watch. HEY-OOOOO!
And apparently, it’s not the first time that the Yankees have accused the Sox of using technology to cheat. According to CSNNE, they complained to Major League Baseball about pitcher Doug Fister appearing to wear an earpiece in the dugout. One problem, it wasn’t an earpiece. It was his mouthpiece wrapped around his ear.
But the Apple Watch, that was real. According to the Times “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 Red Sox players — an operation that had been in place for at least several weeks.”
I love it on so many levels. In fact, I couldn’t love this story any more than I already do. Why? It’s the Red Sox and the Yankees. It’s September. And it’s so incredibly petty. And stunningly obvious. An Apple Watch?!? Seriously? The Newton MessagePad didn’t want any of that?
It would’ve been so much better if they lugged a full-blown desktop in the dugout, complete with a tower and a dial-up modem. And that’s the problem. You can’t be obvious about it. Like pine tar. Guys know that pitchers use pine tar or mix sunscreen and rosin to get better grip, but you can’t do it too much or be too obvious about it. Don’t rub their noses in it.
It’s a well-known fact within the game that there is a video monitor right near every dugout, that’s showing a live feed of the game, and therefore a live feed of the catcher. As an anonymous player told SI’s Tom Verducci, sign stealing”Goes on all the time. Our (monitor) is so close (to the dugout) you could just run up and whistle” to the hitter to communicate what pitch is coming.”
But using electronics, even electronics as largely ineffective as the Apple Watch, is cheating. If you’re stealing signs, it’s gamesmanship. If you’re using electronic accessories, you’re cheating. As Yankee Brett Gardner said, “It’s always been a game within a game, but the use of electronics takes it too far.”
So what’s the punishment? The commissioner has to drop the hammer, right? You can’t let the team with the best record in the AL East get away with that, right? Actually, you pretty much can. Because if history is any guide, the worst that they’re looking at is a fine. Maybe, just maybe, they might throw in a draft pick penalty. But there’s no way they take away wins from the Sox. Or do anything that will really hurt them in the wallet or the standings. So it’s going to be a slap on the wrist. The wrist that isn’t wearing an Apple Watch.
And trust me…. This is exactly the kind of headline baseball needs — because just when you thought one of the greatest rivalries in sports had gassed out, the Yanks and Sox find a new way to BEEF. This time over the one Apple Product that didn’t take over the world.