What do you get when you combine advanced technology with a baseball team that's eager to win? One of the biggest cheating scandals in Major League Baseball, apparently.
MLB's long history of cheating, or rather, sign-stealing, dates back to the late 1800s, when backup catcher Morgan Murphy stole signs using a telescope and signaled pitches by wire. But over the years, players have gotten sneakier with their cheating methods, which largely went unpunished. And now, over a century later, MLB is finally taking the issue more seriously. Although some would say that this isn't the case for the Boston Red Sox scandal...
What exactly is the Boston Red Sox Scandal?
According to reports, during the 2018 World Series championship season, the Boston Red Sox used their video replay room to steal signs from players on the opposing team. Now, while deciphering signals on the field isn't technically illegal, using technology and other outside devices to do so definitely is.
Three anonymous sources came forward and revealed the entire system, mentioning how players went to the replay room to figure out the sign sequence of opposing pitchers and catchers. After passing that information on to the dugout, someone else would share it with a baserunner, who would then communicate it to the batter.
One source explained: "It's cheating. Because if you're using a camera to zoom in on the crotch of the catcher, to break down the sign system, and then take that information and give it out to the runner, then he doesn't have to steal it."
When the news broke, MLB said in a statement: "The Commissioner made clear in a September 15, 2017, memorandum to clubs how seriously he would take any future violation of the regulations regarding use of electronic equipment or the inappropriate use of the video replay room. Given these allegations, MLB will commence an investigation into this matter."
Major League Baseball investigated the allegations for over three months.
MLB revealed that they combed through thousands of texts, emails, photos and video clips while investigating these claims. They also interviewed Red Sox players and several other witnesses in over three months.
In the end, it was determined that the team's video-replay operator, J.T. Watkins, used the replay room in "violation of MLB regulations, to revise sign sequence information that he had permissibly provided to players prior to the game." He's suspended for the rest of the season, but as for the actual players and personnel who might've been involved, they were not disciplined, causing some fans to believe that the team got off too easy.
Is the Red Sox scandal connected to the Astros cheating scandal?
They're not necessarily connected, but former Astros bench coach and Red Sox manager Alex Cora has been linked to both. Not long before the Red Sox got exposed, the Houston Astros were investigated for electronically stealing signs during the 2017 championship season. They used replay monitors to learn these signs and signaled players on the field by either banging on trash cans or whistling.
Along with Astros team members, Alex played an active role in the scheme and reportedly even came up with the idea. After a the investigation, it was revealed that he would be suspended for a year, though the commissioner didn't punish him for anything related to the Red Sox scandal.
Still, because of his past actions, the Red Sox released a statement and claimed the following: "Given the findings and the commissioner’s ruling, we collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward and we mutually agreed to part ways."
Regarding his punishment, Alex said: "The collective conduct of the Astros’ organization in 2017 was unacceptable, and I respect and accept the commissioner’s discipline for my past actions."