By Michael Schwab
The New York Yankees were using a centerfield camera to steal signs during the 2018 playoffs, per a league source and multiple current Major League Baseball players.
A video obtained by me from a league source is said to show a Fastec high-speed camera, manned in centerfield of Yankees stadium, aimed on the catchers mitt to steal the hand signs from the Yankees’ opposing teams’ catcher.
In baseball, the catcher and pitcher use hand symbols between each other to call the incoming play. A certain sign may mean a fastball or an off-speed pitch, like a curve ball. If the opposing team is able to know the other team’s signs, then they would have the advantage of what pitch will come next.
How the scheme has been explained to me, per people with intimate knowledge of the process, is that the person manning the camera would decode the signs in the catcher’s hand and then send the sign to the Yankees’ dugout via a text message. The information would then be received by an Apple Watch or iPad in the dugout (iPads have been allowed in dugouts since 2016). The person in the dugout would then send the signs to the first or third base coach who’d then send the sign to the hitter.
Sign-stealing itself is not illegal, but stealing signs via use of video equipment is against regulation and has been since 1961. The process of relaying signs electronically has also been illegal but only since much recently in 2001, when Sandy Alderson, executive vice president for baseball operations of MLB at the time, sent a league wide memo banning the practice.
The scheme by the Yankees seen in the video would be deemed illegal by several regulations in place by Major League Baseball, as stated above. Rob Manfred, current commissioner of the MLB, also sent out a league wide memo warning teams not to use electronic devices to steal signs to gain a competitive advantage.
Time will only tell with what happens next after the release of this video, but several sources have told me that MLB has seen the video above and that the Yankees are currently under investigation, though I am not aware of what matter.
The rest is in the league’s hands to make the rightful decision.
Find Michael Schwab on Twitter: @michaelschwab13