BALTIMORE — It would make for a heck of a “CSI” episode:
How exactly did the Red Sox steal the Yankees’ signals and transmit them, with the help of an Apple Watch, to their hitters?
The sad truth is that only the Red Sox know every step of the process, and a whistleblower has yet to emerge. The Yankees can’t present a timeline worthy of a TV courtroom drama; once they got the Apple Watch usage on video, their mission was complete. The same goes for Major League Baseball, which can impose discipline on the Red Sox with its incomplete case because it has the evidence it needs.
Nevertheless, from talking with some folks around the game familiar with the espionage that accompanies sign-stealing, some theories can be pieced together.
1. It started with J.T. Watkins, a Red Sox scouting assistant who serves as the team’s instant-replay guru. It’s his job to watch the team’s games on television, in a room situated in the bowels of Fenway Park, and recommend when manager John Farrell should use replay to challenge an umpire’s call. Watkins, a former minor league catcher, apparently deciphered the Yankees’ sequence of catchers’ signals to the pitcher off the TV.
2. Watkins then texted his findings, in code, to Jon Jochim, an assistant athletic trainer for Boston. Jochim received the messages, with both an Apple Watch and a smartphone at his disposal, and informed Red Sox players who happened to be in the dugout — who weren’t at bat or on the bases, in other words. In order for this system to work optimally, all of the players would have to be in on it.
3. Jochim would verbally notify the players in the dugout — the Yankees claim to have found video of him telling a Red Sox player, “Second set,” meaning the Yankees’ pitchers were working off their catchers’ second set of signals. And the players would relay that to the runner on second base.
4. Most likely, that relay occurred either through verbal code or hand signals. A player could tell his teammate to take two steps off the bag, which would mean to look out for the second set of signals. Or if a player mentioned his teammate by name, that would refer to one set of signals, and not mentioning the name would refer to something else. The usage of hand signals opens up a whole world of communication and code.
One key presence during this stretch would be Dustin Pedroia, who was on the disabled list from Aug. 9-31, meaning he’d always be in the dugout. The naturally chatty Pedroia could voice messages through code more naturally than could a quieter teammate.
5. The runner on second would receive the information and inform his teammate at the plate — very subtly with hand signals, movements or words, given that he’s out in the open — what pitch to expect.
6. Finally, to be clear: No, this couldn’t be accomplished on every single pitch. It’s too slow a process. Rather, the Red Sox would figure out the Yankees’ system, communicate it during a break in the action and rely on the runner on second to do the rest.
— With Joel Sherman