In 2015, it was Deflategate that swept the New England sports family. Now, it’s another “Scandal” that is sweeping the nation- Watchgate.
A New York Times article reports that the Yankees have evidence of the Red Sox stealing signs from them. The report also says that the Red Sox, “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 know what you’re saying: “But Jon, stealing signs is perfectly legal in the MLB!” Well, it turns out, it is legal. The stealing of signs from second base to the batter is commonplace in baseball. On the other hand, using any electronics- even binoculars- is illegal. Stealing signs has been around as long as baseball itself has- it’s part of the game. What hasn’t always been part of it, though, is stealing signs using an Apple smartwatch.
In a recent interview about this issue, Red Sox manager John Farrell clearly stated that he had no idea that this was occurring in the dugout and on the field. Fingers pointed to one of the Red Sox not in the dugout, maybe someone in center field, or in another spectral position.
There’s no hacking in baseball
The question is: What will the consequences be for the Red Sox? Will they be big or small? Five days ago, it was reported that the Sox would receive a “slap on the wrist” for their actions. This reminds me of another issue involving a St. Louis Cardinals staff member hacking into the Astros’ system and stealing information. Following the scandal, the Cardinals were forced to surrender their first two draft picks of the 2017 draft, and pay a $2M fine. (One of the largest fines ever surrendered by a team.)
The punishment for the Red Sox certainly won’t be of that magnitude, but there will be one. John Farrell could be suspended a couple games, or another staff member. Along with the punishment, I would not be surprised if Major League Baseball banned Apple Watches – or all non-league administered electronic devices. If they’re not allowed in the dugouts, why not enforce this rule further? Whatever happens, don’t worry Red Sox fans. This won’t affect our drive to the postseason. Major League Baseball is expected to make a decision on a punishment for the Sox by early this week.
Scandal or dust-up?
The final question is: What should we make of this “scandal” as Red Sox fans? Admittedly, when I first saw this unwind, I was annoyed. On the other hand, I progressively got less and less annoyed with it. For one thing, obviously using the Apple Watch did not benefit their offense in that series against the Yanks. Secondly, the Sox are being very upfront about the whole issue. They weren’t trying to hide any of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Red Sox weren’t the only team using technology to boost their performance.