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How the Red Sox used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the Yankees

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Boston has admitted to cheating by using an Apple Watch to break the rules.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Boston Red Sox Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Today, reports broke of the Red Sox cheating by using Apple Watches to steal signs from the Yankees during a series in Boston last month. The Yankees filed a complaint to the league, which was corroborated, and the Red Sox admitted to the allegations when confronted by MLB.

The Red Sox promptly filed a complaint against the Yankees in kind, claiming that they are using their YES Network cameras to do the same thing.

While one of the most famous rivalries descends into finger pointing, squabbling, and pettiness (which is exactly how every rivalry should be at all times) let’s pause for a moment and go over how the Sox actually cheated, as well as why exactly this instance of sign stealing is considered cheating and could result in repercussions for Boston.

After all, sign stealing is a widely accepted practice in baseball even if it falls into that gray area between “fine” and “out-and-out cheating.” Usually when it happens and a team realizes its opponent is doing so, there might be some public allusions to it, but it will otherwise be handled behind the scenes and quashed appropriately.

In this case, with a full investigation underway and counter complaints against New York now part of the mix, there’s obviously something more happening here than the usual case of gamesmanship between teams.

And there is, most importantly due to the method the Red Sox chose to steal signs from the Yankees: an Apple Watch.

Rather than the usual strategy of simply having a runner on second base relay a catcher’s signs back to the batter at home plate, or have another team employee catch the signs on video before running to the dugout to relay the information so someone can then tell the batter about it, the Red Sox shortened their process by involving modern technology.

That, along with using video at all or ocular aids such as binoculars, is decidedly against the rules. Which is when this situation crossed the line from merely being frowned upon into cheating territory.

Boston, instead of sending someone on foot to the dugout to pass along the information, instead sent the signs via messages on an Apple Watch so that the dugout could let players on the field know what pitch was coming next.

That process still seems remarkably slow for a process that needs to be completed in a matter of seconds in order for it to really help a team in any significant way, but it doesn’t actually matter whether the Red Sox did better at the plate than they otherwise would have without assistance.

It’s just the fact that they did it at all that has landed them in hot water with the league.

Their counter complaint against the Yankees alleges cheating for this same reason, since it proposes that their rival team used video footage to communicate signs to players as well.

Next time they cheat, just like every other team in the league has probably done at some point this year, they’re going to have to resort to some actual legwork instead of using Apple to make things quicker and easier for everyone involved.