BALTIMORE — New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, general manager Brian Cashman and the team’s players have long suspected that the Boston Red Sox were doing something illegal to steal pitches, according to sources. In the long tradition of the game, stealing signs has always been a part of it and there isn’t even a rule against it.
But there is a code of how it should be done — using electronics is against the rules — and the Yankees suspected the Red Sox were using some form of electronic communication.
They couldn’t prove it until their Aug. 18-20 series at Fenway Park. It was then where the Yankees used omnipresent video review cameras for instant replay to study the Red Sox, looking for evidence. It was, according to a source who reviewed the video, “blatant.”
“It was something we suspected was going on,” Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said.
The Red Sox, sources said, were repeatedly receiving signs giving them, in the Yankees’ eyes, an unfair advantage. The matter is under review by the commissioner’s office.
What annoys the Yankees so much is that they believe the Red Sox have been doing this against all of their opponents. They have devised a scheme in which a member of their organization watches catchers to pick up the signs. The person quickly decodes the sequence that signifies the pitch that would be thrown.
Then, according to sources, the information would be texted to Red Sox assistant trainer Jon Jochim. Jochim would relay the information to Red Sox batters. When there was a runner on second, the runner would look in at the catcher, knowing the signs a team like the Yankees was using and then would pass the information to the batter, using an unspecified signal.
The Yankees have also been frustrated because All-Star catcher Gary Sanchez has been criticized for his incessant trips to the mound.
With the Red Sox unlikely being alone in stealing signs, Sanchez is constantly changing up the sequencing to try to stay one step ahead of the competition.
“We assume everyone is doing it, just to protect ourselves,” Girardi said. “I’m not saying everyone is doing it, but as a team we assume that every team tries to do something.”
The Red Sox incidents were different, though, because the use of technology made the information flow fast enough that in real time Jochim could relay it to players on second.
One incident, described by a source, involved catcher Christian Vazquez going to the dugout during a pitching change in the bottom of the seventh inning of the game on Aug. 18. Vazquez had reached second.
The source said that on the replay cameras, it was shown that Vazquez clearly received signs through Jochim that were relayed to the Red Sox batters. The Red Sox would go on to score four runs in a 9-6 comeback win. A review of the game on MLB.TV did not show the angles to confirm the information. Vazquez was unavailable for comment Tuesday night after Boston’s marathon 19-inning win over Toronto.
The Yankees were particularly incensed with how well the Red Sox hit with runners in scoring position. In the series in Boston, the Red Sox were 9-for-24 with runners on second and/or third, but in the teams’ first 12 meetings this season, Boston was just 7-for-88 with runners in scoring position.
This was no consolation to the Yankees, who were livid to be looking up in the standings at the Red Sox, but feeling as if Boston was playing outside of the agreed rules of the game.
Meanwhile, Girardi said there was no way the Yankees used their home broadcast cameras to steal signs. A source said that the Red Sox were just trying to muddle the waters to try to win some PR points. For further emphasis, officials pointed out that the Yankees don’t own the majority of the team’s network, YES.