Foul Play

The Apple Watch falls directly into the middle of some Major League drama.

By Logan R. Baker

Boston Red Sox players inside their dugout. Credit: Keith Allison

The humble Apple Watch has found itself stuck in the middle of a controversy once again—this time far from the criticism thrown at it by horological pundits and into the fast paced world of Major League Baseball. Yesterday afternoon, The New York Times reported that the New York Yankees had filed a grievance with Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred alleging that the Boston Red Sox—their long-time rival—had used an Apple Watch to steal pitch signals in the dugout.

According to the complaint, the Red Sox—who are currently in first place in the AL East and are likely playoff-bound—used an Apple Watch to convey hand signals from an opponent’s catcher to their pitcher. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman submitted film evidence of the transgression during a game between the Red Sox and the second-place Yankees but has said that it is likely a tactic they’ve used in other games as well.

The Apple Watch Series 2. Credit: Dani Vernon

Cashman claims that the Red Sox would send messages through an Apple Watch to a team member in their dugout who would then relay the information to the batter as to what kind of pitch would be thrown next.

Stealing signs is as old as baseball itself and while it technically doesn’t break any of the sport’s long-held rules, using technology as a performance-enhancing aid definitely does.

Inside Yankee Stadium. Credit: Reading Tom

While Apple itself has nothing more to do with this other than building the smartwatch, controversies like this continue to raise a spotlight on the ethics and abilities of wearable technology in general. More and more reports have broken in recent months of high school and college students using the watches to cheat on exams and to remain online in areas that don’t allow cell phones.

It is easy to dismiss the Apple Watch as a gimmick but it’s important to remember that this is a rapidly evolving piece of technology, one that has much more in common with your smartphone than your traditional mechanical timepiece. Abraham-Louis Breguet himself was likely mocked when he attempted to move the pocket watch out of his pants and onto his wrist and that is exactly what a smartwatch is doing: taking the information out of your pocket and making it more accessible, on the wrist.

New York Yankees players gather on the pitcher’s mound. Credit: Keith Allison

Expect this story to continue developing over the next few months as the investigation continues, and check out our review of the Apple Watch Series 2 here.

The Apple Watch Series 2. Credit: Dani Vernon