Red Sox

MLB to investigate Red Sox over alleged 2018 sign-stealing operation

red_sox_dugout.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

MLB to investigate Red Sox over alleged 2018 sign-stealing operation

The Boston Red Sox are at the center of yet another sign-stealing scandal.

Several members of the 2018 Red Sox used a video replay room to illegally relay signs to hitters during the regular season, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich reported Tuesday, citing people who were with the team that year.

Red Sox players visited the replay room -- which at Fenway Park was located right next to the home dugout -- during games to determine opponents' sign sequences, per Rosenthal and Drellich.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The players then would relay that sequence to someone in the dugout, who would pass it along to a Red Sox baserunner. The baserunner then could inform the batter of what pitch was coming by using subtle body clues, such as stepping off the second-base bag with his right foot to indicate a fastball and stepping off with his left foot to indicate an off-speed pitch.

The Red Sox allegedly operated this system just one season after Major League Baseball punished them and the New York Yankees for sign-stealing via electronic communication.

MLB will investigate the Red Sox' 2018 system, according to a statement it made Tuesday.

"The Commissioner made clear in a September 15, 2017 memorandum to clubs how seriously he would take any future violation of the regulations regarding use of electronic equipment or the inappropriate use of the video replay room," the statement read.

"Given these allegations, MLB will commence an investigation into this matter."

The Red Sox won a franchise-record 108 games in 2018 en route to a World Series title, but team sources told The Athletic their system "did not appear to be effective or even viable" during the 2018 playoffs.

The Athletic's sources also insisted the Red Sox weren't the only team who had such a system, and that Boston's "cheating" wasn't as egregious as the 2017 Houston Astros' scheme of banging on trash cans to alert players of signs.

It's worth noting Alex Cora was a member of both of those teams, serving as bench coach of the 2017 Astros before taking the Red Sox manager job in 2018.

Cora declined comment on The Athletic's report Tuesday, via MassLive.com's Chris Cotillo.

UPDATE (12:55 p.m. ET): The Red Sox have acknowledged the allegations and said in a statement they'll fully cooperate with MLB's investigation.

Lou Merloni destroys MLB, players for bickering over 2020 return plan

Lou Merloni destroys MLB, players for bickering over 2020 return plan

As the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLS prepare to resume play in the near future, Major League Baseball still can't get out of its own way.

MLB reportedly rejected the Players Association's proposal Wednesday for a 114-game season in 2020 and apparently doesn't plan to make a counter-offer.

The league and the players have refused to budge on the issues dividing them: Players don't want to take an additional pay cut after agreeing to prorated salaries in March, while the owners are wary of extending the season too long due to the coronavirus pandemic and want players to agree to further reduced salaries to mitigate lost revenue.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

That stalemate has cost MLB valuable time, however, as the league doesn't appear close to beginning its 2020 regular season as the calendar turns to June.

So, who's to blame here? Lou Merloni believes it's everyone involved.

The former Boston Red Sox infielder ripped into both the league and the union Wednesday night during an appearance on NBC Sports Boston.

"Both sides suck, OK? That's the bottom line," Merloni said. "The Players Association comes back and says, 'Not 82 (games), we want 114' when they know that's the non-starter. The owners don't want to sit there and play until November. They're worried about the pandemic; they've got to get the playoffs in. And then the owners come back and say we're not even going to counter?

"Jesus, we're like a month into this thing. Can you string this thing out (any longer)? How about go in one room together and try to figure this out in a day or two?"

Compounding MLB's issue is that the NBA is expected to announce a return-to-play plan Thursday that would resume the 2019-20 season in late July. The MLS and NHL also have made headwinds toward resuming their seasons this summer -- which means baseball is wasting a much-needed opportunity to showcase itself as the only active pro sports league.

"I mean, you're running out of time and you're only screwing yourself. Even if baseball does come back, people have already said, 'I've had enough of you.' It's been like a month, a year, and you guys talk and bitch about this thing publicly. I don't give a crap anymore. I've got hockey, basketball, football is around the corner, hell, soccer is around the corner. I'm good.

"They don't even realize it! It's like they're in this bubble and they don't even realize what's going on around them right now. Figure this thing out: 70 games, 65, prorated (salaries), start playing some baseball, because your ass better be first coming back. If not, people are going to be done."

There's reportedly some optimism that the players and the union will resolve their differences and put a return plan in place. But with nearly one-third of the season already lost, the clock is ticking.

Check out Merloni's full comments in the video player above.

Who are the best designated hitters in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

Who are the best designated hitters in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

There's only one choice for best designated hitter in Red Sox history, but just in case there's any doubt, we'll quote broadcaster Dave O'Brien with the signature call from his WEEI days: "DAVID ORTIZ! DAVID ORTIZ! DAVID ORTIZ!"

No sense in even pretending there's any suspense on this one.

What's fascinating about ranking the Red Sox DHs, however, is just how few of them have actually held down the position for any length of time over the years.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

Only nine players have made at least 200 appearances there with the Red Sox since the DH was introduced in 1973, and four of them — Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, and Manny Ramirez — have already appeared elsewhere in our outfield rankings.

That leaves five men to fill out the list, and about the only difficult omission is slugger Jose Canseco, who made 184 appearances between 1995 and 1996.

Click here for the Top 5 DHs in Red Sox history.