The Red Sox have several coaches still on staff from Terry Francona’s tenure: hitting coach Dave Magadan, bench coach DeMarlo Hale, third base coach Tim Bogar and bullpen coach Gary Tuck. Bobby Valentine could get rid of some of them. And there are a couple of other openings. And one of the potential candidates to fill that opening is someone with some Red Sox experience:
One name that surfaced as a potential candidate was that of former Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, who managed the Brockton Rox of the independent Can-Am League last season. “He’s been a friend for years,” Valentine said. “We played together with the Dodgers. We played together in the Dominican Republic. I’ve watched his kids grow up and I respect his every opinion in baseball and in worldly matters.”
Worth noting that friendship and “opinions in baseball and in worldly matters” is pretty much the job description for a bench coach.
I’m guessing if Buckner gets hired it will set off all kinds of “Buckner returns!” headlines and talk about Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. But if it does, it’s phony and ignorant. There have been no less than two and possibly many more instances of Buckner “returning to Boston” since then. He actually came back to play his final 22 games in Boston in 1990. He’s been a guest since then, throwing out first pitches and stuff. Every time it happens, someone pumps it up as Buckner’s “redemption” or a fan “reproachment” or something. I suppose after 50 times it may stop being news.
We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.
As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.
Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.
As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.
While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.
Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.