MLB’s sign-stealing controversy broadens: Sources say the Red Sox used video replay room illegally in 2018

soxhop411

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For the Red Sox, and possibly other clubs, it did not.

Three people who were with the Red Sox during their 108-win 2018 season told The Athletic that during that regular season, at least some players visited the video replay room during games to learn the sign sequence opponents were using. The replay room is just steps from the home dugout at Fenway Park, through the same doors that lead to the batting cage. Every team’s replay staff travels to road games, making the system viable in other parks as well.

Red Sox sources said this system did not appear to be effective or even viable during the 2018 postseason, when the Red Sox went on to win the World Series. Opponents were leery enough of sign stealing — and knowledgeable enough about it — to constantly change their sign sequences. And, for the first time in the sport’s history, MLB instituted in-person monitors in the replay rooms, starting in the playoffs. For the entire regular season, those rooms had been left unguarded.

Other clubs might have committed violations similar to Boston’s under the new rules, but The Athletic could not confirm such conduct at this time.

“It’s cheating,” one person who was with the 2018 Red Sox said. “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.”

The Red Sox declined to comment at the time of publication.
Replay room to dugout to baserunner to hitter is less direct — and less egregious — than banging on a garbage can, the method the Astros used at home in 2017 to alert hitters to what was coming on a pitch-to-pitch basis. The Astros’ system was triggered by a center-field camera and a video screen positioned near the dugout; no one on the playing field was involved in stealing the sign.
 

Beale13

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Way less egregious, and I'd find it hard to believe that there's any team that hasn't been peaking into their own replay room on occasion during their regular seasons. I think MLB has to either put in the in-person monitors for both teams every game or take this out of the category of cheating. Because the video information is too readily available and the rule is completely unenforceable otherwise.
 

Bozo Texino

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Way less egregious, and I'd find it hard to believe that there's any team that hasn't been peaking into their own replay room on occasion during their regular seasons. I think MLB has to either put in the in-person monitors for both teams every game or take this out of the category of cheating. Because the video information is too readily available and the rule is completely unenforceable otherwise.
I'm inclined to agree. The Sox and the 'Stros are my two favorite ballclubs, but yeah - this feels like small potatoes compared to Houston's traschan banging.

Not a great look, obviously - but I'm sure the same sort of "gamesmanship" is going on throughout the sport.
 

Rusty13

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I'm dying to know who Drellich's three "2018 Red Sox" sources were. Former players? Or staff guys?
 

IdiotKicker

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Isn't the simple decision to kill the replay room? If you want to challenge a play, you have to do it based on what you see, not based on your analysis of slow-motion camera footage. It always bothers me that teams go through this process of having all these eyes looking at film deciding whether or not to challenge it. If you want to challenge the play on the field, it should be based on what you saw on the field that can then be confirmed by replay. It shouldn't be based on what you can see on replay to begin with.
 

Wingack

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Not to pour some gasoline and throw a match on it BUT....What is the connection between the Houston Astros championship in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox championship in 2018?
 

DJnVa

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Not to pour some gasoline and throw a match on it BUT....What is the connection between the Houston Astros championship in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox championship in 2018?
Beating the Yankees en route to the title?
 

RorschachsMask

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Not to pour some gasoline and throw a match on it BUT....What is the connection between the Houston Astros championship in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox championship in 2018?
They both beat the Yankees in the process?

But seriously, I'm sure Cora brought some of the Astros "methods" with him. I'm sure the Red Sox probably did this, though it's far less egregious than what the Astros were doing. And likely every team has their own way of using technology to steal signs.
 
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Wingack

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They both beat the Yankees in the process?

But seriously, i wouldn't be surprised if Cora brought some of the Astros "methods", though this is far less egregious than what the Astros were doing.
LOL, I deserve that and didn't even consider that when I posted my comment. Bravo to you two.

But yeah to your second point, he came from a culture where they were doing far worse, so he probably felt OK about doing a less worse form of cheating. Still a bad look, especially when he is probably being looked into because of his time at the Astros. He could def see a more significant punishment with the news of cheating ways being brought to Boston under his leadership.
 

Green Monster

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I'm sure the Red Sox probably did this, though it's far less egregious than what the Astros were doing. And likely every team has their own way of using technology to steal signs.
Cora came on board and brought one guy with him, bullpen coach Craig Bjornson. Very curious, given previous reports/speculation that the bullpen could be used as a method of communicating to the batter.
 

RorschachsMask

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LOL, I deserve that and didn't even consider that when I posted my comment. Bravo to you two.

But yeah to your second point, he came from a culture where they were doing far worse, so he probably felt OK about doing a less worse form of cheating. Still a bad look, especially when he is probably being looked into because of his time at the Astros. He could def see a more significant punishment with the news of cheating ways being brought to Boston under his leadership.
Was on a tee lol, and yeah it's not a good look. It's pretty clear the Astros were all in on doing whatever they could to steal signs, and i don't think anyone in that organization over the last five years can claim ignorance.

If this is true (which I think it likely is), i expect a minor punishment for Cora.
 

mr_smith02

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Am I the only one who fully expects that some level of "cheating" is occurring in all professional sports (and probably college sports too)?
 

phrenile

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Isn't the simple decision to kill the replay room? If you want to challenge a play, you have to do it based on what you see, not based on your analysis of slow-motion camera footage. It always bothers me that teams go through this process of having all these eyes looking at film deciding whether or not to challenge it. If you want to challenge the play on the field, it should be based on what you saw on the field that can then be confirmed by replay. It shouldn't be based on what you can see on replay to begin with.
Eh. One of the key purposes of instant replay review is to conform the action on the field to what viewers saw on their televisions, which inevitably includes slow-motion replays.
 

Wingack

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Am I the only one who fully expects that some level of "cheating" is occurring in all professional sports (and probably college sports too)?
Sure, but that doesn't mean that the different leagues shouldn't come down hard on it when they find it and it makes the game look bad (and worse if they don't punish it when found.) I am off the opinion that MLB should come down very hard on the Astros though.
 

IdiotKicker

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Eh. One of the key purposes of instant replay review is to conform the action on the field to what viewers saw on their televisions, which inevitably includes slow-motion replays.
If that's the framework, then it really shouldn't be in the coaches' hands at all. Just allow NY or a booth umpire to handle all replay reviews, rather than having the manager initiate it. Still does away with the need for a replay room for each team.
 

mr_smith02

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Sure, but that doesn't mean that the different leagues shouldn't come down hard on it when they find it and it makes the game look bad (and worse if they don't punish it when found.) I am off the opinion that MLB should come down very hard on the Astros though.
I am not saying there shouldn't be any punishments, I am saying a close look at any professional sports team is going to unveil something sketchy going on. None of the players (owners, players, media, fans) involved truly want that to happen because we all stop watching. Exposing a few successful teams, players, organizations allows for the appearance that they're trying to keep things on the up and up.
 

Wingack

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I am not saying there shouldn't be any punishments, I am saying a close look at any professional sports team is going to unveil something sketchy going on. None of the players (owners, players, media, fans) involved truly want that to happen because we all stop watching. Exposing a few successful teams, players, organizations allows for the appearance that they're trying to keep things on the up and up.
Yeah you could be right. But there are instances, like with the Astros, where the cheating appears to be above and beyond the usual levels. Those are the ones that should be cracked down on IMO.
 

amRadio

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Give me a break with this.

I now hope MLB goes full Roger Goodell and actually starts sorting things out for the betterment of the integrity of the game. I said this when the Astro's were caught: They're not alone, and this isn't new. So, if we're going to go and drop bombshell reports, let's get it all out there. Paint the full picture of who is doing what with technology to gain how much of a competitive edge. When punishments come down, also clean up game day procedures and rules. No more players or team personnel in the clubhouse, tunnel or anywhere but the dugout during a game. Increase the presence of MLB personnel in every ball park. If teams are going to get dragged through the mud over this, maybe some actual policing from MLB wouldn't hurt.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Cmon now, if the Yankees get brought up in all this mess I will be the first to slam them for it.

But lets not start a war with Iran to distract from impeachment here.
Did you read the article? The Yankees are implicated multiple times.
That's what I was referring to.

Brandon Taubman, the assistant general manager fired by the Astros during the 2019 World Series, confronted a Yankees employee in center field at Yankee Stadium in May of 2018. The Astros at that time believed the Yankees were using a camera to zoom in on the catcher’s signs. According to a source, the Astros did not push the matter with the league at the time, but during the course of the ongoing current investigation have brought it back to MLB’s attention.
As far back as 2015, the Yankees used the video replay room to learn other teams’ sign sequences, multiple sources told The Athletic. Other teams likely were doing the same. Sources said the Red Sox began doing it no later than 2016.
“I’m just telling you from a broad perspective, living it, it didn’t feel that wrong,” said one player who used the replay-room system with the Yankees as far back as 2015. “It was there for everyone, that’s all.”
“If I could figure out the signs from the telecast, I was not going to hold on to that information,” that former Yankee said. “I was going to share that with whomever.”

By 2017, with rules governing electronic sign stealing still lacking the specificity that would come the next season, the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros were all using their replay rooms to help decode sign sequences in some way, sources said.
I'm not saying what the Red Sox did wasn't wrong (it seems to me that it probably was), but I'd slow your victory lap just a little bit. Slam away, Sammy Sosa.
 

BoSox Rule

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Great clickbait article. Most of the league is trying to gain a competitive advantage and the one’s that aren’t are trying to lose on purpose. Who cares.
 

Tyrone Biggums

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Makes sense. Cora came from the Astros. I have no reason to believe this is false.
 

DJnVa

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Cmon now, if the Yankees get brought up in all this mess I will be the first to slam them for it.

But lets not start a war with Iran to distract from impeachment here.
Well, the Yankees are terrorists.
 

E5 Yaz

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Didn't we all see this coming when so many people were mocking the Astros? This was never going to end with just one team in trouble
 

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cornwalls@6

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It’s time everyone accepted that technology is only going to keep progressing, and is impossible to stay ahead of. All of these rules, and the outrage that accompanies these “ scandals” has seemed, to me, since Spygate , as a ridiculous excercise in trying to put the genie back in the bottle. Either get better at disguising your signs, or use the technology to administer them in a way that makes it impossible , or at least more difficult, for them to be stolen.

Edited for clarity.
 
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Average Reds

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Am I the only one who fully expects that some level of "cheating" is occurring in all professional sports (and probably college sports too)?
Agreed

In baseball, especially, sign stealing is as old as the game. Every team does it. Every. Single. Team. Beyond this, all teams have organized efforts to help their pitchers gain grip with the ball. And everyone knows about it.

The etiquette seems to be that so long as you are clever and discreet about it, no one makes a stink. But if you are overtly flaunting your efforts (with the dugout banging to signal offspeed pitches, or if you show up on the mound with pine tar slathered on your neck) you're going to get called out for it.

To a great extent, this entire "scandal" feels very much like baseball's involvement with PEDs. It was tolerated and even encouraged for decades until it became so glaring (in terms of the changes to players appearances and the assault on the record book) that MLB had to do something.
 

loshjott

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To me it seems like installing a totally illicit camera in CF is a level of culpability worse than illicitly viewing camera feeds already in use for other purposes. Maybe it's just me, but that seems worse. (if in fact the Astros did that - others may have also)
 

Tyrone Biggums

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One thing we can agree on is that Houston is done. League is going to drop a nuke on them shortly.
 

BaseballJones

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To me it seems like installing a totally illicit camera in CF is a level of culpability worse than illicitly viewing camera feeds already in use for other purposes. Maybe it's just me, but that seems worse. (if in fact the Astros did that - others may have also)
So they're allowed to go back in the video room to watch replays of themselves and maybe analyze their swing (oh I dropped my hips or whatever) but they have to make damned sure they don't take note of the same exact video screen showing what signals the catcher put down on the pitch they're looking at?

If that's how MLB has defined the rules, then they're a serious bunch of dumbasses and deserve it when teams do this. My god.
 

DeadlySplitter

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Way less egregious, and I'd find it hard to believe that there's any team that hasn't been peaking into their own replay room on occasion during their regular seasons. I think MLB has to either put in the in-person monitors for both teams every game or take this out of the category of cheating. Because the video information is too readily available and the rule is completely unenforceable otherwise.
basically my reaction. the technology rapidly has outpaced MLB on this. Torre brings out a memo on the eve of the regular season in 2018 then puts half-hearted monitors only in the postseason?

all that said, Cora bringing this scheme over is a bit disappointing, but I'm sure he felt he had to do it.
 

DJnVa

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So they're allowed to go back in the video room to watch replays of themselves and maybe analyze their swing (oh I dropped my hips or whatever) but they have to make damned sure they don't take note of the same exact video screen showing what signals the catcher put down on the pitch they're looking at? v
It's not used for that type of replay. It's used to decide if the team wants to challenge a play. So, there's not going to be a parade of players heading there. In theory.
 

Shaky Walton

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Other than possible penalties (and I know that's like Mrs. Lincoln and the play), I could give a damn about any of this. Sign stealing is as old as the hills, and whether it's the Astros, the Red Sox, the Yankees or anyone else, it's irrelevant to me. I assume all teams are doing something to gain an advantage.

I seem to recall reading that the Astros' winning percentage away from home in 2017 wasn't much different than it was on the road. I can't recall whether the 2018 Red Sox won at a much higher clip at home.
 

OurF'ingCity

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It’s time everyone accepted that technology is only going to keep progressing, and is impossible to stay ahead of. All of these rules, and the outrage that accompanies these “ scandals” has seemed, to me, since Spygate , as a ridiculous excercise in trying to put the genie back in the bottle. Either get better at disguising your signs, or use the technology to administer them in a way that makes it impossible , or at least more difficult, for them to be stolen.

Edited for clarity.
I fully agree with this, for all sports. We're in a bizarre netherworld both in baseball and football now where you can "cheat" (i.e., steal signs/signals) in specific designated ways but not in other ways, which makes no sense and basically just incentivizes teams to come up with the most creative ways of finding rule loopholes or trying to skirt the rules entirely, and which also makes things that either aren't actually used to gain a competitive advantage (the recent Bengals taping, for example) or things that every team does (stealing signs using video replay) suddenly some sort of huge issue.

The leagues should simply (a) allow whatever cameras, taping, etc. a team wants to use (with restrictions on more obvious, non-video forms of cheating like stealing playbooks or installing a bug in the opponent's dugout) and (b) give the teams more freedom to develop technological alternatives to counter their opponents. (I posted in the other thread that I'm against things like lights or random number generators to convey pitch selection under the current system, but if that came with a relaxing of rules about what purposes in-stadium video can and can't be used for I'd be ok with it.)
 

EvilEmpire

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I don't have a sub to the Athletic, but from the quotes posted here, it seems like the article mentions the Red Sox more prominently that the Yankees because the rules changed somehow between the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Of course that doesn't mean the Yankees weren't doing something wrong in 2018 too.

By 2017, with rules governing electronic sign stealing still lacking the specificity that would come the next season, the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros were all using their replay rooms to help decode sign sequences in some way, sources said.
Three people who were with the Red Sox during their 108-win 2018 season told The Athletic that during that regular season, at least some players visited the video replay room during games to learn the sign sequence opponents were using. The replay room is just steps from the home dugout at Fenway Park, through the same doors that lead to the batting cage. Every team’s replay staff travels to road games, making the system viable in other parks as well.
 

crow216

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Can't the cameras run on a delay where they blur the catchers fingers for all teams? Then, if the play is under review for some sort of catcher related issue, the replay room can click a special button or something to unblur?
 

TheStoryofYourRedRightAnkle

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Can't the cameras run on a delay where they blur the catchers fingers for all teams? Then, if the play is under review for some sort of catcher related issue, the replay room can click a special button or something to unblur?
I want this on the live feed as well so it looks like the catcher is flashing his... sign.
 

drbretto

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Are they tuning into NESN, which I would think is on a delay, or are they watching the direct feed live while on some CCTV thing? Cause if it's the latter, this is pretty simple issue to fix (and expecting clubs not to utilize any information they can to get an advantage isn't it)

Microphones for relaying info, no access to delay - free broadcasts. Am I being too simple?
 

DeadlySplitter

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expect Cora to be suspended for his overall 2017-18 involvement.

 
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I seem to recall reading that the Astros' winning percentage away from home in 2017 wasn't much different than it was on the road. I can't recall whether the 2018 Red Sox won at a much higher clip at home.
I would bet the house that those two numbers for the Astros are exactly the same. Boston was 6 games better at home in 2018.
 

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I don't have a sub to the Athletic, but from the quotes posted here, it seems like the article mentions the Red Sox more prominently that the Yankees because the rules changed somehow between the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Of course that doesn't mean the Yankees weren't doing something wrong in 2018 too.
They did:

Brandon Taubman, the assistant general manager fired by the Astros during the 2019 World Series, confronted a Yankees employee in center field at Yankee Stadium in May of 2018. The Astros at that time believed the Yankees were using a camera to zoom in on the catcher’s signs. According to a source, the Astros did not push the matter with the league at the time, but during the course of the ongoing current investigation have brought it back to MLB’s attention.