BOSTON — These teams want to watch each other burn. What a wonderful spitting game to take in.
The Red Sox have no doubt the Yankees wanted the sign-stealing story public. It’s just a little icing on the cake for the Yanks, who took three out of four over the weekend and are quickly closing in on first place. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski on Tuesday noted the league’s investigation has been going for 10, 12 days — maybe two weeks.
“The Yankees decided they wanted to give it to the [New York Times] today, for whatever reason,” Dombrowski said.
To be clear: one of the game’s most well-respected executives just accused the game’s most famous franchise of leaking a story to The New York Times.
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George Steinbrenner would be eating this stuff up. Yankees president Randy Levine is probably laughing himself to sleep.
It’s entertaining as hell for everyone watching. Between the competitiveness of the division, CC Sabathia’s unhappiness with bunting and new accusations of electronic theft, The Rivalry is turning into a soap opera again.
The Red Sox’ guilt doesn’t seem in question.
The New York Times reported the iSox have acknowledged they stole signs using electronic devices. Neither commissioner Rob Manfred nor the Red Sox confirmed as much Tuesday, saying the investigation was still ongoing. There were no denials issued on the Sox behalf, and Dombrowski seemed more bemused than anything else.
The Sox have cooperated fully, and indications are they know they were wrong. The commissioner noted that stealing signs is a legal act, simply one that can’t be aided by electronics.
Normally, though, the Sox’ discipline wouldn’t be public. None of this would be. Now everyone knows.
Just how the Yankees wanted it, perhaps?
Clever, clever. It’s notable the matter became public the same day that the Sox filed a counter-complaint about the Yankees: for using a TV camera to steal signs.
Per the Times, the Sox’ complaint came on Tuesday.
“I do believe that this is a charged situation from a competitive perspective,” Manfred said. “When you have the kind of rivalry that the Yankees and the Red Sox have, I guess it’s not shocking you could have charges and counter charges like this. We will conduct a thorough investigation of the charges on both sides. I want to do that quickly. I think that’s important, that we get it resolved.
The iSox, who are trying to gain a competitive advantage like everyone else, have only themselves to blame for what happens from here. The commissioner said he wants any potential punishments to act as deterrents. So, the Sox may once again be held up as an example for the rest of the league, just as they were last year when they were punished sternly for impermissible international signings.
But the Yanks might get their punishment too, now that the Sox have countersued.
Once electronics get involved with the intent of gaining an advantage, a rule has been violated — Apple Watch, a YES Network camera, it does not appear it should matter by the letter of the law.
The most relevant portion of a bulletin provided to all teams prohibiting such action: “No equipment may be used for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a Club an advantage.”
So here’s the Yanks position: you, the Red Sox, tried to cheat us and got little out of it. We beat you anyway, and you hit .143 against us with runners in scoring position, which is when your sign-stealing was supposed to work. And now, you’re turning around and trying to accuse us of cheating?
Here you go, check out the Grey Lady.
It’s a brazen move, particularly if the Yanks don’t win the division, or get knocked out in the Wild Card round. And it is befitting the rivalry.
Manfred said at Fenway Park on Tuesday that these matters are typically handled between general managers. One GM calls another, the league doesn’t get involved and that’s that. But, Manfred said, there have been times where other teams have raised concerns about electronic sign stealing with the league, so the matter is not unprecedented.
Spitting games are much more enjoyable when public.