The Red Sox cheated, even without stealing signs

By simply wearing an Apple Watch in the dugout, Red Sox assistant athletic trainer Jon Jochim was in violation of the MLB decree against having a device capable of texting in the dugout.

The rule is part of an annual set of bulletins transmitted to each team before each season that covers guidelines on various topics that affect play on the field. Signage on the issue also is provided by MLB, which asks that it be posted in various parts of the ballpark.

The existing rule stipulates no electronic devices are allowed in dugouts aside from league-issued iPads that have limitations, including not being capable of connecting to the internet. These elements are covered by league officials when they visit all 30 camps each spring, and one league official said it was made clear that Apple Watches are considered an electric device.

The Yankees sent video to the Commissioners Office from a series last month at Fenway that they claimed showed Jochim looking at his watch in the dugout and then relaying information to Red Sox personnel, who then signaled runners on base what the Yankees catcher signs were so that the pitch and/or location could be indicated to the hitter.

The allegation is that someone doing video replay review for the Red Sox was deciphering catcher signs with the help of the camera that focuses on the plate, then relaying what he learned to Jochim to start the chain of information.

Executives from other teams contacted said that if Jochim was merely spreading what was learned from the video reviewer in the dugout, as a way to prep a player if he reached second base about what to look for with signs, then that was seen as merely a modern twist on what has always gone on: sharing information when someone figures out if a pitcher is tipping pitches or signs are decoded. The executives said, though, if the Red Sox were doing what the Yankees claimed – providing real-time info to runners already on base – that went beyond acceptable boundaries, and stiffer penalties should be levied.

Either way, the presence of the Apple Watch or any electronic watch in the dugout is against the rules. In theory, a club employee in the dugout can claim that a watch with internet capabilities is disabled, but an official from the Commissioners Office said because there would be no way to corroborate that consistently, the watch just would be forbidden.

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