The Boston Red Sox are the latest team accused of electronically cheating according to a new report by The Athletic. The team apparently used the video replay room to learn sign sequences during their 108-win 2018 season. Via The Athletic:
These rooms, intended to help managers decide whether to challenge umpires’ calls, were established after baseball introduced replay review in 2014. But some teams quickly realized the rooms also were easy places to learn a key piece of information: The sign sequence used by opposing pitchers and catchers. Before the 2018 season, after years of barely enforcing its broad rules regarding replay rooms, the league made it crystal clear: Replay rooms cannot be used to help steal signs. The newly clarified rules, in combination with the fines the league levied on the Red Sox and Yankees and warnings it issued in ’17, were intended to end the replay-room chicanery.
Other teams have also been accused of the same thing, but The Athletic has only confirmed the Boston accusations. In the wake of the Houston Astros' cheating scandal, it makes you wonder if this is a case of "everybody's doing it."
All baseball teams try to steal signs. If you're on the wrong side of a stolen sign, you've tipped your pitch. This is something as old as baseball. Now every team has access to cameras everywhere. MLB specifically said that replay rooms cannont be used to help steal signs, which means that there are acceptable ways to steal signs.
If everyone has access to the same equipment and already knows that everyone else is trying to cheat... why is this not OK? There is already a race for analytical superiority in modern sports and none of that was available to anyone 20, 50, or 100 years ago. Instant replay, robot umpires... technology is the reality in Major League Baseball in 2020 and beyond. It's time for baseball to lift the restrictions and allow the sign-stealing arms race to explode. Or they can continue to pretend it isn't already happening and go about the regular business of slapping the wrists of each team as we find out how they cheated two or three years after the fact.