Boston Red Sox's use of technology the true crime in sign-stealing controversy

In this week's Stateside, the Boston Red Sox take an accepted practice to a whole new level with use of technology

Steve Brenner
by Steve Brenner
11th September 2017

article:11th September 2017

It’s not the type of espionage to get James Bond excited.

Some guys watching a catcher’s signal and then relaying the info to coaching staff who used their Apple Watches to inform players on the pitch?


Normally it’s a grizzled old coach using his eye-sight and experience to unlock the code.

But this is different. Welcome to Sign Stealing: 2017.

It’s gone on for years yet the use of technology has raised the intensity of the hatred between these two proud sporting cities.

The inquiry started at the end of last month after Yankees GM Brian Cashman filed a complaint which included video footage of the Red Sox bench during a three-game series between the two teams at Fenway Park last month.

There, clear as day, was footage of Sox staff checking their watches and then telling colleagues who would then signal to players on the field.

Boston didn’t deny anything.

In fact, they’d been doing it for weeks yet had the temerity to accuse the Yankees of using a host broadcaster to do the same.

That was denied by the Bronx Bombers who were adamant something was amiss. There was an overriding feeling of the home batters being too in sync with balls flying their way.

The ploy works a treat when a runner is on second base.

He can not only see what the catcher is doing with his hands but can also let the batter know what’s coming his way.

Otherwise, timing is key. The information needs to be rushed from the dugout in super quick time. So, enter the Apple Watch!

The evidence in this case is interesting: During the opening game of the series, the first two times the home team had runners on second, they came up trumps. In the second inning, a home run helped the Sox creep 2-0 ahead.

It didn’t work out as well in the other two games though suspicions had already been raised.

What’s the most surprising is the Boston Red Sox, in their infinite wisdom, not only thought it was a cracking idea but they’d actually get away with it.

Is there something in the New England water?

No-one in New York will ever forget Spygate – Bill ‘ We will never do it again ‘ Belichick’s attempt to uncover secrets about the Jets’ tactics.

And now this.

 

What a shame these two won’t meet again in the regular season.

It’s unlikely, however, the MLB will smash the AL East leaders with serious punishment.

After all, this is the governing body who happily allow drug cheats to keep their records despite everyone knowing they were bashing home runs juiced up to the max on steroids.

Commissioner Rob Manfred, who just so happened to be in Beantown when the story broken initially by the New York Times surfaced (which has convinced the Sox that the Yankee’s leaking of the story was timed to perfection), will seemingly hand out slapped wrists.

“It has been part of the game for a very, very long time,” he said.

Indeed. Snooping around to gain an advantage isn’t new.

The most famous scandal came all the way back in 1951, when the New York Giants overcame a 13 ½-game deficit over the final two months of the season to catch the Brooklyn Dodgers and eventually win the National League pennant. Half a century later it emerged that telescopes were used from the nearby Polo Grounds to gain an advantage.

Information is often passed on nefariously, yet it was the use of technology which broke the rules here.

Binoculars are banned. So too are mobile phones.

It’s sporting dark arts.

Technological doping, if you fancy.

Just like greasing up a cricket ball or taking an extended bathroom break in tennis, players find a way to operate in between the rules.

It’s certainly not on a par with the shocking Cardinals hack into Houston Astros database two years ago which resulted in a a $2 million fine and the snatching of draft picks.

But it has still caused a stink.

“I’ve never thought it’s wrong. Everyone in the game has been involved in it throughout the years,” said David Dombrowski, the Sox president of operations and a man with no shame.

That much may be true though the old adage remains: Don’t get caught, but if you do, don’t use an Apple Watch.

NFL

No-one – not even a sporting powerhouse like the Miami Dolphins – was safe from the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma.

As the terrifying winds and rain lashed the Sunshine State , the Dolphins, who had already seen their opening day clash against the Bucs called off , were headed to Los Angeles to avoid the carnage.

I live in South Florida and followed suit even if many friends stayed put, determined to ‘ride it out.’

Nevertheless, it was the kind of situation which had everyone thinking of their safety.

Training was cancelled on Wednesday to give players and their families time to prepare their houses before the team travelled to California two days later.

“A lot these guys have a lot on their plate — moving their families — and you’ve got people coming in, and your house and your cars,” Jay Cutler, the quarterback, said.

Fellow Florida NFL side ,the Jacksonville Jaguars, also had their plans thrown into disarray. They planned to remain in Houston after yesterday’s match – a city which is still coming to terms with the shocking aftermath of Hurricane Harvey which destroyed large parts of Texas at the start of the month.

“For us, obviously, we need to stay safe,” said QB Chad Henne. “There’s no need to put a plane into the storm, but you worry about the families here and you worry about the community.”

NBA

First the loudmouth father. Then the overpriced shoes and a reality TV show.

Now the rap single eulogy for his kid brother.

Lonzo Ball has packed a lot into his career so far and he’s yet to play a minute in the NBA. Yet , thanks in no part to his often nauseating dad Lavar, everyone knows his name and this latest attempt to self promote just adds to the circus surrounding the 19 year-old Laker.

His debut rap single “Melo Ball 1” is available for your audible delight and features Lonzo spitting lyrics in honour of his little brother who’s had quite a few weeks himself.

If turning 16 years old wasn’t exciting enough , he also became the first ever High School player to have his own brand of basketball shoes – called Melo Ball 1s.

See what they’ve done there? Geniuses , the lot of them.


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