Were the Yankees cheating on Opening Day?

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You may have seen Keith Olbermann tweet this picture of Brett Weber, who regularly charts velocity and pitch type from behind home plate for the Yankees, holding up four fingers towards the field during the season opener Thursday against the Tigers.

It seemed more weird than anything else at the time, but it turns out that MLB rules prohibit team employees from using hand signals to communicate pitch types or speeds to players. Who knew?

According to the Associated Press, Brian Cashman confirmed that Joe Garagiola Jr., the senior vice president of standards and on-field operations for MLB, spoke this morning with Yankees vice president and assistant general manager Jean Afterman about the issue. Cashman feels that he has a reasonable explanation for Weber’s actions.

“The scoreboard went down. He was relaying after the fact with his fingers to some hitters who wanted it what the velocity was, pitches to the opposing teams’ hitter, to the guy on deck,” Cashman said. “There’s nothing to hide. We’ve got nothing to hide.”

Furthermore, Cashman said that Weber wears headphones during home games so he can communicate with the scoreboard operator in order to relay pitch information that can be displayed in center field.

Oh, and if you’re calling the Yankees “cheaters,” Cashman has a message for you.

“It’s probably more work talking about than it’s worth,” Cashman said. “The psychotics that obsessed about it all day yesterday, I think we all did ’em a favor by keeping them off the street and preventing them from hurting others.”

For what it’s worth, Weber is not behind home plate for today’s game against the Tigers. That means they’ll have to find some other way to win. You know, like rely on the $200 million worth of talent they have on the field.

The Red Sox’ start is ridiculous

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The red-hot Red Sox completed a sweep of the previously red-hot Angels last night, outscoring them 27-3 in their three-game series. Last night’s game was, relatively speaking, a close one, with the Sox winning “only” by six runs. They did manage to strike out Shohei Ohtani three times, though, so some style points help make up for the “squeaker.” Also worth noting that they held Mike Trout of all people to a 3-for-11 line in their three-game series. He did not score a single time and drove in no runs.

That series win puts the Sox at 16-2 on the year. They dropped their Opening Day game to the Rays, but then won their next six games against Tampa Bay, which I’d say makes up for it. In between those two series they swept a two-game series from the Marlins and afterwards they took two of three from the Yankees and three in a row from the Orioles. The only thing that even threatened to slow this juggernaut down is the weather, resulting in a postponement of Monday morning’s Patriot’s Day game. Somewhere in here we should notice that they’re doing this with their starting shortstop and starting second baseman on the disabled list.

As we’ve noted many times, their 16-2 record is the best start in the Red Sox’ 118-year history. It’s also the best start for any team since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers began 17-1 (let us just forget, for the time being, that those Brewers lost 18 of 20 in May of that year). They are the fourth team since 1961 to win 16 of its first 18 games.

The Sox aren’t simply getting lucky here. They’ve scored 116 runs and have allowed only 50, which is a Pythagorean record of 15-3. They lead all of baseball in offense, scoring 6.44 runs a game, leading individually in average, on-base percentage and slugging. They are only three one hundredths of a run behind the Astros from leading all of baseball in pitching, allowing only 2.78 runs a game. They’re winning all of these games because, in the early going, they’ve simply been that dang much better than everyone they’ve played.

No, the Sox are not going to go 144-18, as they are currently on pace to do. Yes, they are going to find a lot more trouble in their schedule once they play the Orioles, Rays and Marlins less, play a healthier Yankees team more and face off against the Astros, the Blue Jays, the Indians, the Twins and some tougher interleague opponents. This is baseball, obviously, and no one makes it through a season without rough patches, long, short and numerous.

Still: this has been one whale of a start for Boston. Those wins are in the bank. It’s been quite the thing to see.