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Is The Apple Watch The New Steroids? (MLB, Ned Yost Don’t Think So)

Major League Baseball last month gifted Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost with an Apple Watch as a thank you for coaching this year’s American League All-Star team.

Earlier this week, Yost was spotted wearing the watch in the dugout during a game, which raised a few eyebrows. All electronic communications devices, such as smartphones, have long been banned in dugouts during MLB games. Players have even been fined for Tweeting during games from the clubhouse.

When MLB officials contacted Yost, he denied any wrong-doing. “When you’re away from your phone, all it is is a watch,” Yost told the Kansas City Star. His iPhone was safely stowed away in his office in the clubhouse, which I assume is more than 33 feet away and thus out of Bluetooth range.

MLB took his word for it and has clarified its position, saying it’s OK for coaches and club personnel to wear the watch during games as long as it isn’t used for communication purposes.

But what happens when Apple releases its watchOS 2 this fall? The new operating system is said to have improved Wi-Fi capabilities as well as native apps that don’t need to be paired with a phone. Add to that the fact that a majority of MLB stadiums now offer free Wi-Fi services to fans and anyone else in the ballpark.

Given baseball’s long tradition of bending the rules for a competitive edge — think performance enhancing drugs, illegal substances on baseballs, etc. — it would seem to be only a matter of time until someone tries to exploit the technology to gain an advantage. For instance, it seems pretty easy to me to have a scout in centerfield stealing the catcher’s sign and texting it to a coach, who can quickly give a signal to the batter.

The NFL has its Deflategate. Should MLB be preparing for an Applegate?