When a video appeared to show a member of the Chicago Cubs using an electronic watch in the dugout during Game 4 of the Nationals League Division Series, social media instantly began buzzing. Was another team using the technology for an edge? Was a team really that bold after all the recent controversy surrounding the new cheating frontier? The clip quickly caught Major League Baseball’s attention. And after investigating the matter, the league concluded rules were not violated.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the league examined the device and the coach’s phone, which wasn’t in the dugout, after the game and found it wasn’t connected to the Internet. The league decided it was a mistake.
MLB investigated Arizona Diamondbacks Coach Ariel Prieto after a photograph showed him wearing an electronic watch during Arizona’s 11-8 wild card victory over the Colorado Rockies. MLB found Prieto innocent of using the technology to gain an advantage, but it still fined Arizona and Prieto for wearing “an illegal electronic device in the dugout.”
Wednesday’s clip, which surfaced in the middle of the Cubs’ 5-0 loss to the Washington Nationals, shows a Cubs player or coach tapping an electronic watch twice, then covering with the sleeve of his hooded sweatshirt.
MLB prohibits the use of electronics connected to the Internet during games. The rule surfaced in August when the New York Yankees accused the Boston Red Sox of using an Apple Watch to relay signs from a clubhouse monitor to the dugout and, ultimately, the hitter. After an MLB investigation confirmed the wrongdoing, Commissioner Rob Manfred fined the Red Sox an undisclosed amount.
After he punished the Red Sox, Manfred sent a memo warning teams harsher penalties could result from future offenses. “All 30 clubs have been notified that future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks,” Manfred wrote.