iSpy: Red Sox caught using Apple Watches to steal signs from Yankees

The wearable was used to quickly deliver stolen signals to players.

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Victor Grigas (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

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It seems that the Red Sox were doing a lot more with their Apple Watches than tracking their steps. According to a Major League Baseball investigation, the Boston baseball team was using their Apple wearables to gain an advantage over their biggest rival, the New York Yankees, in some of the most important games of the season.

The New York Times is reporting that the Red Sox used Apple Watches to steal signs in games at their home Fenway Park against the Yankees earlier this year. The Yankees apparently spotted a member of the Sox’s training staff using the wearable in the dugout to relay info to other players. The Yankees reported the incidents to MLB, and the Sox admitted to the ploy, the Times reports.

Since it doesn’t have a camera, it wasn’t the Apple Watch itself that was used to steal the signals. Rather, the device was used to instantly relay stolen signals to personnel in the dugout, where they could be quickly passed on to the players. That gave the Sox an unfair advantage during key moments in games, the Yankees allege.

Stealing signs is nothing new for MLB, and the league doesn’t actually have rules against the practice. However, it does prohibit the use of electronic or surveillance equipment to aid in the capture of signals, which makes the Apple Watch, even as a distribution method, a no-no. According to the report, the Yankees caught several clips of Red Sox’s assistant athletic trainer Jon Jochim “looking at his Apple Watch and then passing information to outfielder Brock Holt and second baseman Dustin Pedroia. ... In one instance, Pedroia is then seen passing the information to (outfielder Chris) Young.”

According to the story, the Sox admitted that it was indeed receiving signals from the replay booth and distributing signs to players. In response, the Red Sox filed a counter claim against the Yankees alleging the team used a TV camera of its own to steal signs during games. No word on if Apple TVs were part of that scheme.

What to watch out for: While this incident will certainly lead to some kind of punishment for the Red Sox and inflame tensions between the two teams with the playoffs approaching, it’s hard to see it as anything but a good story for Apple, especially with a new model of Apple Watch on the way. Even if MLB were to ban the use of Apple Watch on baseball fields, Apple could easily spin it into a positive story for its wearable. After all, who wouldn’t want to own the watch banned by baseball?

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