Major League Baseball has yet another sign-stealing saga on its hands. Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported Tuesday that MLB is investigating the Boston Red Sox for improper use of the team's video replay room in 2018 to learn and then communicate opponents' pitching signs to baserunners.
Two seasons ago the Red Sox went 108–54 and won the World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games. The Athletic reports that the Red Sox' system did not appear to be effective or even viable during the 2018 postseason and the league added in-person monitors for the replay rooms in the postseason. The rooms were unmonitored during the regular season.
“It’s cheating,” one of three people who were part of the 2018 Red Sox told The Athletic. “Because if you’re using a camera to zoom in on the crotch of the catcher, to break down the sign system, and then take that information and give it out to the runner, then he doesn’t have to steal it.”
The Red Sox issued the following statement on the report:
“We were recently made aware of allegations suggesting the inappropriate use of our video replay room. We take these allegations seriously and will fully cooperate with MLB as they investigate the matter.”
MLB also weighed in on the matter:
"The Commissioner made clear in a September 15, 2017 memorandum to clubs how seriously he would take any future violation of the regulations regarding use of electronic equipment or the inappropriate use of the video replay room. Given these allegations, MLB will commence an investigation into this matter."
How the Red Sox's Alleged System Worked, via The Athletic:
• A Red Sox staff member in the replay room would pass along the pitcher's sign sequence to a player. The player would return to the dugout and inform the rest of the team. A pitcher's sign sequence could sometimes be determined from previous appearances but the Red Sox would try to stay current with any changes by shuffling players to the video room.
• The information would be sent to the baserunner, who would then look out for the catchers' signs and then use their body language to inform the hitter of what pitch may be coming.
• Red Sox players and staff members would go over communication methods for the day's game. The signs from the baserunner could come from stepping with one or two feet onto the bag or looking out into centerfield.
• This is different from the Astros, who used a live camera feed to steal catchers' signs and then hit a trash can in the dugout to inform the batters of the pitch type in real time.
The Red Sox and New York Yankees were fined separately in 2017 as part of an investigation into the use of electronics to steal signs. At the time, MLB determined the Red Sox were sending electronic communications via an Apple Watch from their video replay room to an athletic trainer in the dugout. The Yankees filed a complaint against Boston. The Red Sox countered by alleging the Yankees used a YES Network television camera improperly to spy on them but the league found insufficient evidence of that claim.