Did Dodgers lose to sign-stealing cheaters in back-to-back World Series appearances?

The Red Sox celebrate after defeating the Dodgers in Game 5 of the 2018 World Series.
The Red Sox celebrate after defeating the Dodgers in Game 5 of the 2018 World Series.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers have not won the World Series since 1988. They have only appeared in the World Series twice since then, in 2017 and 2018.

Both teams that beat them — the Houston Astros in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox in 2018 — now are under investigation by Major League Baseball over allegations they improperly using technology to steal signs.

During the 2018 regular season, according to a story posted by the Athletic on Tuesday, the Red Sox visited the replay room during games to review signs flashed by opposing teams.

“It’s cheating,” one person who was with the 2018 Red Sox told the Athletic. “Because if you’re using a camera to zoom in on the crotch of the catcher, to break down the sign system, and then take that information and give it out to the runner, then he doesn’t have to steal it.”


The league monitored replay rooms during the 2018 postseason, making it unlikely the Red Sox would have been able to use the system during the World Series.

The Red Sox said in a statement Tuesday: “We were recently made aware of allegations suggesting the inappropriate use of our video replay room. We take these allegations seriously and will fully cooperate with MLB as they investigate the matter.”

The Astros’ system, as told by pitcher Mike Fiers to the Athletic last November, involved a system in which a camera in center field focused on the catcher’s signs. The camera feed was viewed on a television monitor behind the Astros’ dugout, and banging on a trash can relayed to the batter that an offspeed pitch was coming.

The Dodgers and free-agent pitcher Jimmy Nelson have agreed to a one-year deal plus a mutual option. Nelson is coming off two injury-plagued seasons.

It is not considered likely that MLB would vacate the World Series titles won by the Astros and Red Sox, or award either championship to the Dodgers. Fines, suspensions and a loss of draft picks would be more likely sanctions.

The investigation into the Red Sox will broaden an already deep probe.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said last month that league investigators had reviewed 76,000 emails with regard to the allegations against the Astros. He said the league had completed almost 60 interviews, with more to come.

“It is my hope to conclude the investigation just as promptly as possible, but it’s really hard to predict how long something like that is going to take,” Manfred said.

“At this point in the investigation, it would be wholly inappropriate for me to speculate about what types of discipline might be in play. I’m going to get all the facts in front of me and make a decision as promptly as possible on discipline, and obviously you all will know about it as soon as it happens.”