By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Red Sox were already an ancillary piece of baseball's growing sign-stealing controversy, due to manager Alex Cora and his role in the Houston Astros' accused sign-stealing schemes during the 2017 season. But now the Red Sox themselves under Cora are accused of similar illegal tactics.
According to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic, who also reported on the Astros' controversy, three sources who were with the Red Sox during their World Series-winning 2018 season say the team illegally used their video replay room to learn the signals of opposing teams.
Here's the SparkNotes pseudo-journalistic aggregation of the article. I would highly encourage you to read the whole thing in order to understand the breadth and context of these accusations, as it relates to the Red Sox and baseball at-large.
-- Three people with the Red Sox describe a system in which a player would leave the dugout for the video replay room, typically used to decide whether to challenge umpires' calls, and use it in order to learn opposing pitchers' sign sequences.
-- The signals would then be relayed to runners on first or second. Then the runner would use physical gestures to relay the sign to the batter.
-- Baseball sent a memo to all teams after the 2017 season warning teams not to use video replay rooms for sign-stealing purposes, indicating that this was a widespread practice.
-- The Red Sox' alleged actions don't rise to the level of the scheming going on with the Astros, who banged on a trash can in the dugout in order to alert batters to signals. A system like the one the Red Sox used only worked with runners on base.
-- Another factor is that pitchers and teams frequently mix up their sign sequences because they already know opposing teams are doing similar things to what the Red Sox are accused of doing, and are already trying to steal their signs and decipher their sequences with or without the help of technology.
-- Alex Cora was a key figure in the Astros' sign-stealing scheme when he served as bench coach in the 2017 season.
-- Sign-stealing is far from new in baseball, and even the use of modern technology to do so has become relatively commonplace. It's generally considered fair game as long as teams don't overstep their bounds, which was the purpose of the warning delivered in the 2017 memo. It's one of several parallels to the Patriots' original "Spygate" scandal from 2007.
That's the pertinent information. And it's probably just the start of what will be an MLB investigation into these allegations against the 2018 World Series champions.
It's likely that baseball cracks down hard on these kinds of practices now, and it could mean that Cora (and perhaps others in the Red Sox organization) faces a stiff punishment as a result. If only to speed up games in the first place.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].