Boston accused of stealing signs

Two visiting teams have been especially vocal about the presence of a television in the Red Sox bullpen.

Updated: September 25, 2003, 5:01 PM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
Have you ever sat behind the bullpen in Fenway Park? I'm telling you, it's no place to watch a ballgame -- other than the fact that you get to say, "at least I'm sitting in one of the five greatest places on Earth." The view is pretty poor out that way, especially down low just behind where the pitchers warm up.

I say this as a preamble to saying that the Red Sox excuse for having a television in their bullpen at least sounds plausible. Pete Thamel of the New York Times reports that the team's rationale for placing a television in the team bullpen was to afford the relievers a better view of the game. That is not how the move was interpreted by their opponents, however. Two visiting teams have been especially vocal about the presence of the screen out there, going as far as to say the Sox were using it to steal signs. Seattle general manager Pat Gillick pointed to the disparity in the team's home record versus its road record as proof that they were getting an unfair advantage at Fenway Park and Rays manager Lou Piniella had the umpires turn the television off during his teams 7-0 victory over Boston last Wednesday.

It's interesting that an intelligent man like Gillick would intimate such a thing in that Thamel reports the television was not installed until August 19 and a team with a home/road disparity is nothing new in this world (although the Red Sox were better on the road from 2000 to 2002). Piniella's protest came with his team leading 3-0 in a game it went on to win 7-0. Regarding Gillick's comments, Boston reliever Todd Jones said, "It's a slap in the face to our hitters. I thought it was kind of childish to think like that." Indeed, the Red Sox are on the cusp of having the highest team slugging average of all time. (see below)


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Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.

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