Here's How the Chris Young-Red Sox Apple Watch Scheme Led to the Houston Astros' Sign-Stealing Downfall

After Chris Young brought Yankee sign-stealing tactics to Boston, it's all been downhill.
After Chris Young brought Yankee sign-stealing tactics to Boston, it's all been downhill. / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

If you're a Houston Astros fan and you hate seeing what your team has been going through for the entirety of this offseason, you have Chris Young to thank.

A former MLB player who had stints with both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, Young reportedly brought Yankee sign-stealing tactics to Boston. The scheme was eventually discovered by the commissioner's office, which quickly put a stop to the whole thing.

It was first reported by Peter Gammons on Monday Young took sign-stealing techniques honed in the Bronx to Boston. The source of the story? Young himself. However, the very next day, Young called Gammons to retract the claim entirely. SNY's Andy Martino reached out to Young as a follow-up, but he only said that he didn't say what Gammons claimed he said, declining any further comment.

Despite Young's attempt to correct the public record, there's eyewitness support for the idea that Young really did import what he knew from one AL East rival to the other.

In 2015, his only year with the Yankees, the Yankees used their replay room to see sign sequences and used runners that were on base to relay signs (notably, this wasn't illegal at the time). When Young allegedly brought this system to Fenway Park, the Red Sox took things to the next level and used their replay room to relay the signs to the dugout via an Apple Watch, which could then redirect sequences to a runner on base. The Yankees saw an Apple Watch in their dugout in Sept. 2017 and reported it to the commissioner's office, which then issued a punishment to the Red Sox.

The Yankees also received a punishment for an unrelated impermissible use of their dugout phone. Let no stone be left unturned!

After the initial stories broke, Commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement to all 30 MLB teams stating that any use of technology to get an unfair advantage is explicitly illegal. And guess who used technology to get an advantage in their World Series run during... at least one October even after that announcement

That's right, the Houston Astros.


Manfred likely wouldn't have came down as hard if he hadn't issued that statement just a mere month before Houston hoisted the Commissioner's Trophy in 2017. Thanks to Young bringing technological sign-stealing innovations up to Boston that year, though, Manfred drew a line in the sand when it came to using digital aids to cheat. After that precedent was set, the Astros blatantly cheated their way to their first championship, and their fall from grace these past few weeks has made their 2019 World Series defeat seem quaint by comparison.