Arthur J. Villasanta - Fourth Estate Contributor
New York, NY, United States (4E) - Bitter Major League Baseball (MLB) rivals the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees have another reason to fuel their century-old antipathy: the Red Sox will be penalized by MLB for using Apple Watches to reveal and steal hand signals from Yankees' catchers.
Sign-stealing isn't illegal per se at MLB games as long as teams only use their own eyes and signals or voices to convey what they see. Using replay technology and Apple Watches -- as in the case of the Red Sox -- to spy on catchers isn't allowed.
Catchers communicate with pitchers and tell them which pitches to throw via hand signals. An opposing team that manages to spy on these signs can tell its batters what pitches to expect.
It's widely expected MLB will impose penalties on the Red Sox, which currently lead the American League with 79 wins and 61 losses as of Sept. 6, for the illicit use of electronic devices. That punishment might come as early as next week considering the Red Sox did own up to this form of cheating after being confronted with evidence.
MLB has determined the Red Sox stole hand signals from Yankees' catchers during a recent Yankees series (which the Yankees won) and possibly during games against other teams.
The Yankees accused the Red Sox of this high tech "signals theft" in a complaint filed with the office of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. The Yankees' complaint included video of the Red Sox dugout during a series at Fenway Park from Aug. 18 to 20.
The video shows a member of Boston's training staff looking at his Apple Watch in the dugout and then relaying information about pitch type and location to Boston players.
"It's something we've suspected," said Yankees Manager Joe Girardi.
Manfred, however, admitted the MLB doesn't "have a rule against sign-stealing, and it has been a part of the game for a very, very long time."
He did note that "it's the electronic equipment that creates the violation. And I think the rules against electronic equipment have a number of policy reasons behind them. But one of them is we don't want to escalate attempts to figure out what a pitcher's going to throw by introducing technology or electronics into that mix."
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