Report: Red Sox caught stealing Yankees' signs

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The Red Sox reportedly used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the hated New York Yankees in the latest

The Red Sox reportedly used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the hated New York Yankees in the latest made-for-headlines scandal to hit the New England sports scene — and one that will surely end in another, dreaded “-gate.”

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Red Sox were using the device to relay signs by the Yankees catchers during an important series last month at Fenway Park. The story notes that the Red Sox told MLB investigators that Boston manager John Farrell, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and other team executives were not aware of the alleged scheme.

Applegate, iGate and other names started making the rounds on social media last night, as fans quickly tried to come up with pithy titles for the scandal. For a fanbase that already weathered two scandals that surrounded the loved New England Patriots — Spygate and Deflategate — the all-too-familiar suffix was unwelcome.

For now, the most important thing for Red Sox brass to do is get ahead of the message, according to a crisis management expert who was following the news as it broke.

“They need to get ahead of it and make sure that information comes out of the Red Sox offices instead of the rumor mill,” said Erik Bernstein, vice president of Colorado-based Bernstein Crisis Management. “They should put out a statement online and explain what happened and how they are going to stop it from happening again.”

Farrell and Dombrowski spoke to the press before last night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Farrell said it was “a league matter at this point,” while Dombrowski acknowledged the situation while pointing to “an investigation taking place for the Yankees on something that they’re doing.”

According to the Times article, the Red Sox accused the Yankees of using a camera from its television network, YES, to steal signs during games.

Pointing fingers, however, is the exact wrong tactic to take when the spotlight is on you, Bernstein said.

“It doesn’t deflect, and it makes you look a little more guilty. Everyone knows that trick,” he said. “I don’t think pointing a finger is a good idea.”

Stealing signs via electronic devices is illegal under the rules of Major League Baseball, and if the allegations are true, commissioner Rob Manfred will have to determine a punishment.

New Englanders will remember that the National Football League took a ham-fisted approach to doling out punishment in the Deflategate saga. Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended star quarterback Tom Brady for four games for being generally aware that footballs were deflated during the 2015 AFC Championship Game, when the Patriots massacred the Indianapolis Colts 45-7.

After the 2007 Spygate controversy, when the Patriots were accused of videotaping the New York Jets’ defensive signals from an unauthorized location, the league handed down hefty fines and docked the team a first round draft pick.

It’s hard to say just yet how harsh the punishment against the Sox will be. According to another crisis management expert, the best thing for the local ballclub to do is keep their heads down and pray for a nice winning streak that will wash away the scandal.

“Don’t make a big deal out of it and play the best possible baseball,” said Steven Fink, president of California-based Lexicon Communications Corp., a crisis management firm. “They will likely deal with the repercussions in the offseason, but for now, win and let the story die.”

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