MLB rules on Red Sox-Yankees sign stealing and fines both teams
Commissioner Manfred noted that future use of technology to steal signs could result in loss of draft picks
Earlier this month, news broke that the Red Sox from the Yankees. This came to light via a Yankees complaint. The Red Sox, in turn filed a complaint about the Yankees using YES Network to steal signs from the Red Sox. At the time, it was reported that Major League Baseball was investigating the matter.
MLB has concluded its investigation. Here's the full statement from MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred. We have bolded the most pertinent parts for easier reading.
"Several weeks ago, the New York Yankees filed a complaint with the Commissioner's Office alleging that the Boston Red Sox violated certain Major League Baseball Regulations by using electronic equipment to aid in the deciphering of signs being given by the Yankees' catcher. The Commissioner's Office has conducted a thorough investigation of the allegation. Today, I am prepared to disclose the results of that investigation.
"At the outset, it is important to understand that the attempt to decode signs being used by an opposing catcher is not a violation of any Major League Baseball Rule or Regulation. Major League Baseball Regulations do, however, prohibit the use of electronic equipment during games and state that no such equipment 'may be used for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a Club an advantage.' Despite this clear Regulation, the prevalence of technology, especially the technology used in the replay process, has made it increasingly difficult to monitor appropriate and inappropriate uses of electronic equipment. Based on the investigation by my office, I have nonetheless concluded that during the 2017 season the Boston Red Sox violated the Regulation quoted above by sending electronic communications from their video replay room to an athletic trainer in the dugout.
"In assessing the significance of this violation, the investigation established three relevant points. First, the violation in question occurred without the knowledge of ownership or front office personnel. Second, when the Red Sox learned of the Yankees' complaint, they immediately halted the conduct in question and then cooperated completely in my investigation. I have received absolute assurances from the Red Sox that there will be no future violations of this type. Third, our investigation revealed that Clubs have employed various strategies to decode signs that do not violate our rules. The Red Sox' strategy violated our rules because of the use of an electronic device.
"Taking all of these factors as well as past precedent into account, I have decided to fine the Red Sox an undisclosed amount which in turn will be donated by my office to hurricane relief efforts in Florida. Moreover, all 30 Clubs have been notified that future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks.
"In the wake of the Yankees' complaint to the Commissioner's Office, the Red Sox brought forward allegations that the Yankees had made improper use of the YES Network in an effort to decipher the Red Sox signs. The Commissioner's Office also investigated this allegation and the Yankees fully cooperated with the investigation. During that investigation, we found insufficient evidence to support the allegation that the Yankees had made inappropriate use of the YES Network to gain a competitive advantage.
"In the course of our investigation, however, we learned that during an earlier championship season (prior to 2017) the Yankees had violated a rule governing the use of the dugout phone. No Club complained about the conduct in question at the time and, without prompting from another Club or my Office, the Yankees halted the conduct in question. Moreover, the substance of the communications that took place on the dugout phone was not a violation of any Rule or Regulation in and of itself. Rather, the violation occurred because the dugout phone technically cannot be used for such a communication.
"Based on the foregoing, I have decided to fine the Yankees a lesser undisclosed amount which in turn will be donated by my office to hurricane relief efforts in Florida."
First off, good on MLB to put those fines to good use in hurricane relief.
The big takeaway here is that neither team is really impacted in terms of how their teams have fared on the field, nor will they be affected moving forward. Many people wanted to see either or both teams dinged for draft picks and some even brought up the crazy idea that wins be taken away. None of this happened, of course, but it's interesting to see Manfred put draft picks on the table for cases like this in the future.
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