The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have been duking it ever since 1901, when the Sox were called the Boston Americans and the Yanks were the Baltimore Orioles. (Sports are weird.) While they’ve shared plenty of fistfights, Hall-of-Famers, championship series, and epic collapses, lately, there hasn’t been as much bad blood as usual between the two American League rivals.
But just when you think their longstanding feud might be getting a little stale, one of the teams goes and commits some light espionage against the other with the help of a fancy wearable device. Yesterday, the New York Times released a report detailing Major League Baseball’s (MLB) investigation into a high-tech cheating tactic recently employed by the Red Sox.
Two weeks ago, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman—who had reportedly (and justifiably) long been suspicious of the Sox stealing opposing catchers’ signs in their home Fenway Park—filed an official complaint with MLB that included video the Yanks shot of Boston’s dugout last month.
Cashman and co. claimed the video showed a Boston trainer repeatedly looking at his Apple Watch in the dugout and sending a message to other nearby Sox players, who then tipped their teammates on the field to what pitches they could expect. After MLB’s crack team of investigators analyzed the video, they confirmed the Yankees’ sneaking suspicions.
When the commissioner’s office challenged the Sox about their spying, they admitted that “their trainers had received signals from video replay personnel and then relayed that information to Red Sox players—an operation that had been in place for at least several weeks,” according to the Times report.
All in all, this is some pretty weak would-be James Bond shit, and it’s not clear if what the Sox did was actually illegal. Baseball teams have been stealing each other’s signs to get a competitive advantage for almost as long as the game has existed; in 1951, the Giants used a telescope, and in 2010, the Phillies used binoculars. But in today’s MLB, the use of electronics on the field (including the dugout) is strongly prohibited, and commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters yesterday that the league will “conduct a thorough investigation on both sides” before handing down a punishment, if any.
Of course, this is nothing new for Boston sports teams trying to stick it to their New York foes. In 2007, the New England Patriots were famously dinged by the NFL for videotaping Jets defensive coaches’ signals, losing a plum first-round draft pick in the process and earning a reputation as dirty cheaters, which they have yet to relinquish.
The Pats must be so proud of their equally awful Beantown brethren.