Boston Red Sox Caught Using Technology to Steal Signs
The Boston Red Sox admitted to eavesdropping on the communications channel between catcher and pitcher.
Stealing signs is believed to be particularly effective when there is a runner on second base who can both watch what hand signals the catcher is using to communicate with the pitcher and can easily relay to the batter any clues about what type of pitch may be coming. Such tactics are allowed as long as teams do not use any methods beyond their eyes. Binoculars and electronic devices are both prohibited.
In recent years, as cameras have proliferated in major league ballparks, teams have begun using the abundance of video to help them discern opponents’ signs, including the catcher’s signals to the pitcher. Some clubs have had clubhouse attendants quickly relay information to the dugout from the personnel monitoring video feeds.
But such information has to be rushed to the dugout on foot so it can be relayed to players on the field—a runner on second, the batter at the plate—while the information is still relevant. The Red Sox admitted to league investigators that they were able to significantly shorten this communications chain by using electronics. In what mimicked the rhythm of a double play, the information would rapidly go from video personnel to a trainer to the players.
This is ridiculous. The rules about what sorts of sign stealing are allowed and what sorts are not are arbitrary and unenforceable. My guess is that the only reason there aren’t more complaints is because everyone does it.
The Red Sox responded in kind on Tuesday, filing a complaint against the Yankees claiming that the team uses a camera from its YES television network exclusively to steal signs during games, an assertion the Yankees denied.
Boston’s mistake here was using a very conspicuous Apple Watch as a communications device. They need to learn to be more subtle, like everyone else.