Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
During the 2018 season, the Boston Red Sox electronically stole signs and broke MLB’s rules on the subject, which led to commissioner Rob Manfred penalizing the team.
Manfred’s investigation found that replay operator J.T. Watkins “on at least some occasions during the 2018 regular season” utilized video feeds in the replay room to decode signs and provide that information to players, which violates MLB’s rules.
The Red Sox were stripped of a second-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, while Watkins was suspended for the 2020 postseason and banned from his primary role working in the replay room during the 2021 season. The penalties were far less than what the Houston Astros received for their scandal from the 2017 season, but the Red Sox scheme was far less impactful on the games.
MLB also determined the Red Sox did not use the sign-stealing system during the postseason, which is something Mookie Betts confirmed, who also acknowledged the entire team was aware of the system, via Dylan Hernández of the L.A. Times:
Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, who was on the 2018 Red Sox, acknowledged that he was aware his team was using live video feeds to stealing signs. “Yeah,” Betts said Sunday, “everybody was.”
However, Betts said the Red Sox didn’t use the sign-stealing system in the World Series against the Dodgers.
Betts’ claims are a direct contradiction to Manfred’s report, which stated that much of the roster was unaware of the sign-stealing system.
“I do not find that then-Manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox coaching staff, the Red Sox front office, or most of the players on the 2018 Red Sox knew or should have known that Watkins was utilizing in-game video to update the information that he had learned from his pregame analysis,” Manfred’s report said.
“Communication of these violations was episodic and isolated to Watkins and a limited number of Red Sox players only.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers were also among the teams to be investigated by MLB for alleged sign stealing, but the investigation showed no evidence of such claims. Despite this, multiple players have continued to accuse the team of cheating, with multiple sources speaking against them in “Winning Fixes Everything,” by The Athletic’s Evan Drellich.
It’s unlikely the full scope of sign-stealing in MLB during the aforementioned seasons will ever be discovered, especially because Manfred has a vested interest in protecting the image of the league, but it’s safe to assume it was a more common occurrence among teams than not.
The real question should be how did teams utilize the information they were acquiring, and how much did that affect the games.
Dodgers hired J.T. Watkins despite Red Sox scandal
The Dodgers hired J.T. Watkins to their staff from the Red Sox this offseason to help their hitters with game planning.
In Boston, Watkins also developed a close relationship with Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, and according to McAdam, they both gave the Dodgers front office recommendations to hire him.
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