Report: Red Sox Used Replay Room To Steal Signs In 2018

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By WFAN Sports Radio 101.9 FM/66AM New York

There's a new sign-stealing scandal in baseball, this time involving the Boston Red Sox.

Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported Tuesday that some members of Boston's 2018 World Series-winning team would visit the video replay room during games to decipher opposing catchers' sign sequences so they could later tip off teammates. The report cited three people who were with the 2018 Red Sox, who won 108 games, led the majors in runs scored and beat out the Yankees for the American League East title and in an AL Division Series.

Video replay rooms were established in 2014 to help managers decide whether to challenge umpires' calls. The replay room at Fenway Park is just steps from the home dugout, and replay staffs travel to road games as well.

"It’s cheating," one source told The Athletic. "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." 

Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts celebrates with teammate Andrew Benintendi after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning against the Dodgers in Game 5 of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Images

Major League Baseball said it's investigating the accusations.

The Red Sox issued a statement saying: "We were recently made aware of allegations suggesting the inappropriate use of our video replay room. We take these allegations seriously and will fully cooperate with MLB as they investigate the matter."

Before the 2018 season, Major League Baseball warned teams that they cannot use replay rooms to help steal signs. The message came in response to MLB's 2017 investigation into sign-stealing allegations levied by the Red Sox and Yankees against each other that resulted in fines for both teams. 

When contacted by Commissioner Rob Manfred's office in 2017, the Red Sox admitted that their trainers had been relaying information from video personnel to players. Manfred said his office found insufficient evidence to support the claim against the Yankees but that the investigation did reveal that in "an earlier championship season" the Yankees illegally used a dugout phone. 

Manfred said then that he received "absolute assurances" from the Red Sox that they would not engage in illegal sign-stealing again. 

Baseball does not have any rules against teams trying to decode pitching signs, but it does outlaw the use of electronic devices to aid in the practice.

Red Sox sources told The Athletic they don't believe the system used in 2018 helped the team in the postseason because opponents were leery of sign-stealing and, as a result, constantly changed their sign sequences. Meanwhile, MLB began using in-person monitors in replay rooms during the playoffs.

In November, The Athletic reported that the Houston Astros stole signs during home games in 2017 by setting up a camera in center field to zero in on catchers' signs, which were then relayed to batters by having team employees, who were monitoring the video feed on a computer, bang on a trash can in the tunnel near the team's dugout. The report cited four people who were with the Astros during 2017, including former pitcher Mike Fiers.

MLB also has been investgating those allegations.

Like the Red Sox, the 2017 Houston Astros won the World Series -- also by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Astros defeated the Yankees in seven games in the AL Championship Series that year.

Alex Cora was the bench coach for the Astros in 2017 and the manager of the Red Sox in 2018. He played a key role in devising the sign-stealing system in Houston, The Athletic reported.