Boston Red Sox accused of illegal sign-stealing in 2018

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The sign-stealing scandal that, to date, has primarily focused on the Houston Astros has widened. Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic report that the 2018 Boston Red Sox had a video-enabled operation of their own:

Three people who were with the Red Sox during their 108-win 2018 season told The Athletic that during that regular season, at least some players visited the video replay room during games to learn the sign sequence opponents were using. The replay room is just steps from the home dugout at Fenway Park, through the same doors that lead to the batting cage. Every team’s replay staff travels to road games, making the system viable in other parks as well.

They report that the system was not useful during the postseason due to MLB personnel monitoring the replay room and due to other teams being wary enough of sign-stealing that they constantly changed signs.

The key part of this, though, is that this all came after Major League Baseball cracked down on use of replay officials in sign-stealing operations in the wake of the infamous Apple Watch scandal in 2017. That led to fines of Red Sox personnel and the implicit warning that, going forward, using video to steal signs would be dealt with harshly.

This also comes in the wake of Rob Manfred saying, in November, that he did not believe that the sign-stealing scandal then engulfing the Astros extended beyond Houston. That seemed like a silly whitewash at the time, but seems like even more of a whitewash now.

A whitewash that Major League Baseball apparently realizes it can no longer maintain. The league’s statement to The Athletic:

“The Commissioner made clear in a September 15, 2017 memorandum to clubs how seriously he would take any future violation of the regulations regarding use of electronic equipment or the inappropriate use of the video replay room. Given these allegations, MLB will commence an investigation into this matter.”

Rosenthal and Drellich say in their report that it’s possible that other teams were using their replay rooms in similar schemes but that, at present, they don’t have enough to go on in order to report that. Professional journalists do not say such things unless they (a) are still actively investigating the matter; and (b) are pretty sure that, eventually, they’ll get something more to go on. Which means that this is only going to expand.

Which is interesting for its own sake. But it’s also interesting because it seemed like Manfred and the league wanted to try to wrap up the Astros sign-stealing thing in a neat little bow before the 2020 season started. Now it would appear that those plans are out the window and that this story is far closer to its beginning than to its end.

No lease extension, but Orioles and governor tout partnership

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The Baltimore Orioles and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore announced a joint commitment to what they called a “multi-decade, public-private partnership” to revitalize the Camden Yards sports complex.

The statement from the team and the state’s new governor came Wednesday, the deadline for the Orioles to exercise a one-time, five-year extension to their lease at Camden Yards. The team was not planning to exercise that option, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the club hadn’t announced its decision.

With no extension, the lease is set to expire at the end of this year, but the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority can keep negotiating. Wednesday’s joint release seemed to be an attempt to calm any nerves in Baltimore about the team’s future.

“I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority in order to bring to Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination the state of Maryland deserves,” Orioles CEO John Angelos said.

“We greatly appreciate Governor Moore’s vision and commitment as we seize the tremendous opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue represents and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore. It is my hope and expectation that, together with Governor Moore and the new members and new chairman of the MSA board, we can again fully realize the potential of Camden Yards to serve as a catalyst for Baltimore’s second renaissance.”

Republican Larry Hogan, the state’s previous governor, signed a bill last year increasing bond authorization for M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, and Camden Yards. The measure allowed borrowing of up to $600 million for each stadium.

“When Camden Yards opened 30 years ago, the Baltimore Orioles revolutionized baseball and set the bar for the fan experience,” Moore, a Democrat, said Wednesday. “We share the commitment of the Orioles organization to ensuring that the team is playing in a world-class facility at Camden Yards for decades to come and are excited to advance our public-private partnership.”

Angelos recently reaffirmed that the Orioles would stay in Baltimore, although he dressed down a reporter who asked for more clarity on the future of the team’s ownership situation. Angelos was sued last year by his brother Lou, who claimed John Angelos seized control of the Orioles at his expense.