The New York Yankees are loving this. They have the Boston Red Sox right where they want them.
Entering Wednesday, the Yankees trailed the Red Sox for first place in the AL East by just 3.5 games. With a little less than a month remaining in the regular season, that’s not an impossible deficit to overcome. But since the two teams don’t play again before the postseason begins, New York will need a little help from someone else.
Right now, that someone else is Major League Baseball.
The New York Times reported, on Tuesday, that MLB investigators found the Red Sox to be using “a scheme to illicitly steal hand signals from opponents’ catchers in games against the Yankees and other teams.” This determination by investigators, according to the Times, came after Yankees general manager Brian Cashman filed a detailed complaint with commissioner Rob Manfred’s office, which included video — that the Yankees shot — of the Red Sox dugout during a series at Fenway last month.
This “scheme,” which the Red Sox have admitted to, included an Apple Watch that was worn by a Red Sox trainer in the dugout, who received stolen signals on his watch from someone in the clubhouse, and relayed those signals to players in the dugout, who then would signal players in the field about what pitch was coming next.
Clearly this is an example of the Red Sox trying to use technology to their advantage, which is illegal. But also clearly, this entire story is an example of the Yankees trying to accomplish exactly what the Red Sox were: gain a competitive edge.
They’re trying to get inside the Red Sox’ heads, more than anything else. The Yankees understand the complication and borderline stupidity of this scheme. They’re just attempting their own form of gamesmanship, and in the process, they’re trying to get the Red Sox to think twice about stealing signs during a game. The evidence of technology being involved was the Yankees’ opportunity to make a big deal out of an everyday occurrence like sign stealing.
Let’s keep this in perspective here. Stealing a catcher’s signs is not new. And the Red Sox are not the only team to try and steal them. Using an Apple Watch is something I had never heard of. But should we be surprised?
In the world of iPhones, iPads, and apps for anything you’ve ever wanted to do, if the Red Sox are the first team to use an electronic device to try and gain an edge during a game — and I’m willing to bet they aren’t the first — then they certainly won’t be the last.
As technology grows, so will the temptation to use it. Especially if you believe that same technology, at some point, has been and will be used against you.
The Red Sox responded, on Tuesday, by filing a complaint against the Yankees, in which they accused the Yankees of using a camera from their YES television network to steal signs during games. That gives you a glimpse into the Red Sox’ mindset on all this. They got caught, but now they’re out to prove they’re not the only team using electronic devices.
Behind the scenes, as the Red Sox face the heat of being portrayed as “cheaters,” the Yankees are probably laughing. They’re probably finding joy in the fact that the Red Sox don’t just have to deal with the standings, but now they also have to deal with a “scandal.”
Typically, in September, with a 3.5 game lead in the division, you don’t want to deal with an MLB investigation, especially one that finds your team in the wrong. You just want to focus on baseball, and holding off the second-place team that’s right up your behind.
That team would be the Yankees. And much like the Red Sox, they’ll use any advantage they can get.
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