The first-place Boston Red Sox suddenly find themselves engulfed in a sign-stealing scandal. A story published by the New York Times on Tuesday indicates that the Red Sox are under investigation by Major League Baseball after the Yankees accused them of using an electronic device to aid in the sign-stealing.
The Times’ story explains that a Red Sox trainer was caught on camera by the Yankees relaying information from his Apple Watch to players on the Red Sox bench. The Yankees presented the video evidence to the league office. Sources close to the investigation told The Times’ Michael S. Schmidt that Red Sox trainer Jon Jochim “executed a scheme to illicitly steal hand signals” from opponents using the Apple Watch as the transmitting device. Such electronic devices are banned from MLB dugouts. The Red Sox reportedly countered by saying the Yankees were keeping tabs on them too.
How did Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski respond? Well, he kinda laughed the whole thing off. Here’s what Dombrowski said in a news conference prior to Tuesday’s game, not showing too much concern:
“Do I think sign-stealing is wrong? No, I don’t. I guess it depends how you do it, but I’ve never thought it’s wrong…. People are trying to win however they can. It’s an edge they try to gain and sometimes your sophistication of signs can make a difference.”
So part of what he’s insinuating there is the Yankees’ signs must not be that sophisticated if they’re being stolen, which is a fair point. Nonetheless, Dombrowski won’t win much public favor outside of the Boston area by laughing about the accusations.
Yes, sign-stealing has gone on in baseball as long as there’s been a game, but the use of electronic devices — as the Yankees accuse and MLB investigators appear to confirm — is strictly forbidden. Plus, he carries the burden of Boston. The New England Patriots have been involved in enough gate-suffixed scandals that some sports fans from around the country will just assume the worst about Boston teams.
Dombrowski also insinuated in other comments that the Yankees leaked the story to the New York Times because MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was in Boston on Tuesday for unrelated business. And yes, Manfred was at Fenway Park and spoke on the situation:
“Well, I’m not going to give interim reports on an ongoing investigation. What I can tell you is this: I take any issue that affects the play of the game on the field extremely seriously. I do believe that this is a charged situation from a competitive perspective when you have the kind of rivalry that the Yankees and the Red Sox have, I guess it’s not shocking you could have charges and countercharges like this,” he said. “We will conduct a thorough investigation of the charges on both sides. I want to do that quickly. I think that’s important that we get it resolved. The only thing that I can tell you about repercussions is that to the extent that there was a violation on either side, and I’m not saying that there was, to the extent that there was a violation on either side, we are 100 percent comfortable that it is not an ongoing issue, that if it happened, it is no longer happening. I think that’s important from an integrity perspective going forward.”
Manfred’s comments don’t sound like the Red Sox are in for too steep a penalty, because he seems to be attributing a lot of this to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. Since some in the baseball community have suggested the Red Sox vacate some of their wins, people in Boston should be pleased by the commish’s response here.
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