It is a summer-and-fall love story unlike any other: Major League Baseball coaches seemingly can’t quit wearing Apple Watches despite the league’s best attempts to stop them.
During the National League Wild Card game last Wednesday, Arizona Diamondbacks coach and interpreter Ariel Prieto was caught wearing an Apple Watch in the dugout. Prieto wearing a smartwatch may not have been a big deal, had it not been for the fact that the Boston Red Sox reportedly stole signs issued by the New York Yankees’ catcher during their rival series in August.
After the scandal reported by the New York Times, MLB swiftly investigated whether Prieto was using the Apple Watch to cheat and concluded last Friday that he was not.
Nonetheless, the Diamondbacks and Prieto were fined an undisclosed amount. The fine was donated to the hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico, according to an MLB statement.
“MLB found no evidence that Mr. Prieto used the Apple Watch or cell phone for any purpose in the dugout, nor any baseball-related communication on either device, during Wednesday’s game,” reads the MLB statement. “Despite these findings, Mr. Prieto violated MLB’s on-field regulation by having this device in the dugout.”
The short and sparse history of Apple Watch in MLB started in 2015, when Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost wore an Apple Watch — which MLB gave to him as a present — to games. Despite receiving it as a gift, Yost was warned by the league to not connect the Watch to an iPhone during games to give its cellular capabilities.
“When you’re away from your phone, all it is is a watch,” said Yost in a 2015 interview.
MLB’s soft leash on Apple Watch backfired last month when the Yankees complained that a Red Sox assistant trainer in the dugout was wearing an Apple Watch and used it to relay information about the Yankees’ signals to Boston players. One source told a Red Sox beat reporter that it was a Fitbit watch, not an Apple Watch.
MLB Commissioner Bill Manfred fined the Red Sox and warned all 30 teams from similar violations in the future.
The Red Sox, Yankees and Diamondbacks are all in playoff contention at the time of publication. All three teams are just one loss away in their respective divisional series from having their 2017 season come to an end.
Photo of Apple Watch by Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group
Tags: Apple Watch, baseball, MLB
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