Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
On Sept. 15, 2017, Major League Baseball fined the Boston Red Sox an undisclosed amount for using Apple Watches to convey signs stolen from the Yankees.
MLB also fined the Yankees a lesser amount, leading to a common misconception that both teams engaged in espionage at that time.
At the time, the league announced that the Yankees had "violated a rule governing the use of a dugout phone." What MLB didn't say was that no one had accused the Yankees of cheating.
Their previously unreported actual offense, according to major league sources?
A member of the team, likely then-pitching coach Larry Rothschild, used the dugout phone to call replay coordinator Brett Weber and ask if a particular pitch was a ball or a strike. This did not even occur in 2017, but in a prior season. Weber openly admitted this to the league during its investigation. That's it. Technically a violation, but hardly on the same level as an Apple Watch scheme.
The Red Sox also accused the Yankees of using a YES Network camera to steal signs, but MLB found that those claims had no merit.
On Tuesday, the Athletic published a story reporting that a) MLB will investigate claims that the Red Sox used their video replay room to decode opponents' signs in 2018 and b) the Yankees did the same beginning in 2015.
It's worth taking a moment to parse the significant differences in the accusations between the Yankees and Red Sox.
No one is denying that some Yankees used their video room in 2015-17 to decode signs, as The Athletic reported. But there is a significant difference between that and doing the same in 2018, when MLB clarified its rules.
In 2017, after fining the Red Sox for their Apple watch scheme and the Yankees for their ill-advised phone call, MLB made clear that future incidents of high-tech sign stealing would be punished harshly.
"All 30 Clubs have been notified that future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks," commissioner Rob Manfred said in the statement announcing those fines.
The following spring, MLB issued a memo to officials from all 30 clubs stating that "Electronic equipment, including game feeds in the Club replay room and/or video room, may never be used during a game for the purpose of stealing the opposing team's signs."
The league drew a clear line before the 2018 season, and this is where the paths of the Yankees and Red Sox diverge.
According to multiple major league sources, the league is not investigating or aware of any allegations that the Yankees used their replay room to steal signs in 2018 or 2019.
Is it possible that some Yankees players engaged in this behavior over the past two years? Sure. But that has not been alleged, by The Athletic story or anyone else, according to SNY's sources.
As for the incident in 2018, when then-Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman confronted a Yankees employee for operating a camera in center field?
As was widely reported at the time, the Yankees had pre-approval from MLB to test a high-speed camera. It was Taubman who was out of line for confronting another team's employee -- in this case, an intern. Taubman was later fired for harassing female reporters during the Astros' 2019 ALCS-clinching celebration.
As for the allegations against Boston in 2018, one rival player summed it up on Tuesday when he said, "Everyone knew [the Red Sox] were doing something."