Major League Baseball is investigating whether the Red Sox used modern technology -- a smart watch, to be exact -- to steal signs from opponents, including the rival Yankees.The alleged sign-stealing, which was first reported Tuesday by The New York Times, was brought to the league's attention by Yankees general
Major League Baseball is investigating whether the Red Sox used modern technology -- a smart watch, to be exact -- to steal signs from opponents, including the rival Yankees.
The alleged sign-stealing, which was first reported Tuesday by The New York Times, was brought to the league's attention by Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who filed a complaint with the Commissioner's office that included video the Yankees shot during their series against the Red Sox last month.
According to the Times, the complaint contended that the video revealed a member of Boston's training staff looking at a smart watch in the dugout before relaying a message to players regarding the pitch that was about to be thrown.
The Commissioner's office approached the Red Sox, The Times article said, adding that the Red Sox acknowledged that their trainers had received signals from video replay personnel working in the clubhouse.
The Red Sox reportedly filed a similar complaint against the Yankees, claiming New York was operating in a comparable fashion by using a YES Network television camera.
Commissioner Rob Manfred, who was in Boston on Tuesday as part of a celebration of Pete Frates Day in Boston, addressed the issue in a scheduled visit to Fenway Park.
"I take any issue that affects the play of the game on the field extremely seriously," said Manfred. "I do believe this is a charged situation from a competitive perspective; when you have the kind of rivalry that the Red Sox and Yankees have, I guess it's not shocking you could have charges and counter-charges like this.
"We will conduct a thorough investigation of the charges on both sides. I want to do that quickly; I think that's important that we get it resolved."
Manfred declined to get into specifics, but he did add that if there was a violation on either side -- something he would not confirm -- he feels "100 percent comfortable that it is not an ongoing issue" and is no longer happening.
"I think that's important from an integrity perspective going forward," Manfred said, adding that the investigation has not been completed.
The league's department of investigations is handling the matter, led by Brian Seeley, a former Assistant United States Attorney. Manfred said the Red Sox have cooperated fully with the investigation.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday that the Sox have complied with the league's investigation, which has been going on for nearly two weeks.
"I will say that I think sign-stealing has been going on in baseball for a long time," Dombrowski said. "I've been in the game for 40 years, I've known of it for 40 years, sign-stealing itself. People that I talked to that played back in the '50s have talked about sign-stealing. So, I do think sign-stealing has been taking place for a long time. I will acknowledge that."
The Red Sox reportedly told league investigators that neither Dombrowski nor manager John Farrell were aware of the sign-stealing activity in question. Asked if he felt stealing signs was wrong, Dombrowski made his feelings on the matter clear.
"Do I think sign-stealing is wrong? No, I don't," he said. "I guess it depends how you do it. But, no I've never thought it's wrong. People are trying to win however they can. It's an edge that they try to gain. Sometimes your sophistication of signs can make a difference. No, I've never felt it was wrong. Put it this way, I never was brought up that it was wrong."
Manfred echoed a similar sentiment.
"We actually do not have a rule against sign-stealing," Manfred said. "It has been a part of the game for a very, very long time. To the extent that there was a violation of a rule here, it was a violation by one or the other that involved the use of electronic equipment. It's the electronic equipment that creates the violation.
"I think the rule against electronic equipment has a number of policy reasons behind it, but one of them is that we don't want to escalate attempts to figure out what a pitcher is going to throw by introducing technology or electronics into that mix."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi declined to comment on the Times report itself, but he's long been a proponent of headsets for players to communicate with their own dugouts in order to prevent such situations from taking place.
"Electronics [are] the world we live in today," Girardi said. "It's changed the world we live in. It will continue to change as we move on. Again, there has to be something that a catcher and pitcher and middle infielders can do to combat all this.
"My idea is, let's make it easier so that we don't have to go through things like this."
Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com.