The 2004 comeback of the Boston Red Sox against the Yankees in the American League championship, coming back from 3 games down to win the best of 7, was as close to a miracle in baseball as you might get. Except for now. The Sox have done what no one else was able to do: find a use for the Apple Watch.
Apple has been in a money-making funk. It depends on the iPhone to drive profits. Other product lines, like Apple TV, have never come close to that level of popularity. Even news that the Apple Watch saw a 50 percent increase in sales might make your head shake.
When a company seems worried about saying how many units of a product it sells even as it reports all the other major lines, a 50 percent jump might mean, what, someone sold an extra 20 or 30?
A big problem for the Apple Watch is that it seems so unnecessary. You need an iPhone for most of what the device is supposed to do. If you’ve already got the phone, who needs to strap a display to their wrist? How many people do you know who opt to use a watch to tell the time when they have a phone in the pocket.
But the Red Sox pulled off another miracle that transcended sports to touch on tech. They reportedly made an Apple Watch useful by using it to spy on opponents like the Yankees, said the New York Times.
The Yankees, who had long been suspicious of the Red Sox’ stealing catchers’ signs in Fenway Park, contended the video showed a member of the Red Sox training staff looking at his Apple Watch in the dugout. The trainer then relayed a message to other players in the dugout, who, in turn, would signal teammates on the field about the type of pitch that was about to be thrown, according to the people familiar with the case.
Baseball investigators corroborated the Yankees’ claims based on video the commissioner’s office uses for instant replay and broadcasts, the people said. The commissioner’s office then confronted the Red Sox, who admitted that their trainers had received signals from video replay personnel and then relayed that information to Red Sox players — an operation that had been in place for at least several weeks.
See? Even in a miraculous case like this one, the Apple Watch needed help from another source. The good tech news is that the Yankees also resorted to top-notch electronics — video cameras clearly equipped with a long telephoto — to get their evidence.
And then the Sox said that the Yankees use a video feed from the team’s television network to steal pitchers’ signs during games. The Yankees said that wasn’t true. Quick, check them for Apple Watches.
Apparently there is also a rule that electronic devices are not to be used in the dugouts. What will people do? The players are almost all millennials. How will they survive prolonged phone deprivation (hereby known as PPD).
Here’s an idea. Forget all the sneaking around. Just wait for some entrepreneur to natively enable the Apple Watch to steal signs. Then the players can shrug their shoulders and say, “Who knew it was wrong? There’s an app for it.”