While stealing signs has always been a part of baseball, modern technology has taken things to the next level. The Houston Astros used a video feed to decipher the opposition’s signals; unsurprisingly, Major League Baseball handed down a sizeable punishment. The Boston Red Sox, however, are still waiting to learn their fate.
Spring training, though, is right around the corner. With that timeframe in mind, when will the Red Sox finally be punished for their own sign-stealing scandal?
The Boston Red Sox sign-stealing scandal
As initially detailed by The Athletic and later confirmed by Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros used a camera in center field to steal the opposing catcher’s signs. As far as we currently know, the Red Sox used a similar system.
According to another report from The Athletic, everything started in the replay room. While the video feeds exist to help the manager determine which plays to challenge, they also served a more nefarious purpose. During the season, Red Sox players would head to the room in order to gain insight into the opposition’s signals.
Once those signs were deciphered, a message would be sent to the dugout, where it would be passed to any baserunners. Armed with that insider knowledge, those players would glance in at the catcher and alert the batter if a specific pitch was on the way. The scheme was similar to the club’s 2017 Apple Watch scandal but removed the offending piece of technology.
Rob Manfred wants to hand down the Boston Red Sox sentence soon
The start of spring training is right around the corner. Ideally, the Boston Red Sox will learn their fate before their preparations get too far underway.
“I’m hopeful that I can get Boston done before the camps open,” commissioner Rob Manfred said at the Major League Baseball owners meetings. “I’d like to have this over. Investigations are funny. You think you know what the timeline is, but that’s a day-to-day prediction.”
The severity of that punishment, however, still remains to be seen. On one hand, the Red Sox do have a prior record of using technology to steal signs. On the other, their current scheme wasn’t as elaborate or institutionally ingrained as the Houston Astros’. It’s also worth noting that Alex Cora and general manager Dave Dombrowski are no longer with the club, meaning that punishment should only come down on an organizational level.
One thing we do know, though, is that Red Sox players won’t be individually punished. That’s identical to the Houston Astros; Manfred compared the situation to a police plea bargain, granting smaller offenders immunity in exchange for valuable information.
Rob Manfred also offers a solution
While the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox’s sign-stealing sagas are almost over, Major League Baseball wants to ensure that teams don’t try anything similar in the future. Joe Girardi has suggested using technology, namely allowing pitchers and catchers to communicate wirelessly, but Rob Manfred has a more straightforward idea. The commissioner is moving in the opposite direction and limiting the accessibility of real-time video.
“I think you should assume that before the season starts, we will have new guidelines with respect to the use of video equipment,” he explained. “I think we have too much video available in real-time right now.”
Thankfully, the baseball season is going to start soon. At that point, we can all stop worrying about sign-stealing scandals and watch a game.