Oct
01

Winning by any means necessary

By

If you haven’t already seen it at Deadspin, I suggest you watch the above video of Joe Mauer stealing signs immediately. MLB will probably yank it down soon. Make sure you read the text in the clip, you won’t need any sound.

As for some context, that video was taken from the 6th inning of the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, and a win would have tied the Twins with Detroit for the AL Central with five games to go, two against the Tigers. Minny was down 5-0 and had just two weak singles off Justin Verlander in the previous five innings. Denard Span doubled, Orlando Cabrera singled him in, then Mauer doubled with O-Cab going to third. It was the Twins first rally of any kind off Verlander, and apparently Mauer decided to do what all good MVP’s would do: he stole the signs from Gerald Laird and relayed them to Jason Kubel at the plate via a series of hand signals.

This is nothing new to the game of baseball and Mauer is far from a horrible person for it. Players have been stealing signs for over a hundred years, and Mauer’s team was behind in what was then the biggest game of their season. Laird and Verlander were aware of it (as you can see in the video), and did what they could to throw the pitch they wanted without giving away the signs. I’m sure Laird has stolen signs at some point in his career, so what’s the big deal?

That’s the question, do you think it’s a big deal? It’s a big game for Minnesota and Mauer is doing what he can to help his team win. Heck, for all we know Miguel Cabrera was stealing signs from second and relaying them to Brandon Inge in the previous inning, when Inge broke things open with a two-run single. How would you feel if you knew the Yanks did something like this in the postseason? What if they had it done to them?

Categories : Musings
  • http://twitter.com/hopjake Jake H

    This stuff happens all the time. I think that it’s good baseball by Mauer. The catcher and pitcher should make the signs harder to pick up. Look at what Boston does to try to make it harder.

    • Paul

      Agreed. I’m surprised they didn’t change up the signs the second Mauer got to second.
      Great video too, cudos to whoever put the annotations in.

    • http://Thumb? Mike T

      That’s part of the game. I guess it’s not the same as yelling ‘I got it’ running the bases behind the third baseman in a crucial game according to some baseball ‘purists’. Or are only the ‘Joe Mauer’s’ allowed to cheat. Kinda like Big Floppi wailing against steroid users after A-Rod’s addmission but crying like Baby Huey when he’s on the same list? Amazingly even with ALWAYS having to play by ‘higher’ standards A-Rod remains the best, eh?

  • Derby

    You can’t get too mad at Mauer for doing that. If the pitcher and catcher were that worried about him stealing signs, then the catcher should have gone out to Verlander to discuss things over.

  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

    Fine by me. We used to do the same stuff from the bench and the bases in HS and Am. Legion ball.

  • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

    I’d feel a bit dirty if someone on the Yankees was doing it, much like the ‘HA’ play with A-Rod. Yes you do anything you can to win, but it just doesn’t feel right, even if it isn’t outright cheating…

    • http://www.teamnerdrage.com leokitty

      The Yankees probably have done it if the catcher doesn’t mix things up well enough.

  • Dela G

    eh, it happens all the time, just change the signals

  • Doug

    “and a win would have put the Twins just one game back of Detroit with five games to go”

    just a minor point of contention, but wouldn’t a win in the 2nd game have brought the twins into a 1st place tie?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      You’re right. I misread the game log, I though the Tigers were two games up going into the game, not after it.

      Thanks, fixed the post.

  • TheZack

    Of course its not a big deal. Even ignoring the “everybody does it” argument, which of course is true, he’s not doing anything against the rules. Nothing. Nada. So what’s the big deal? I mean, if it were Pedroia, it would be hailed as a gritty selfless act of a true scrappy competitor. If A-Rod did it, well, see the above comment on the “Ha!” play.

    So what’s the big deal? A great baseball player does what everyone else does and is allowed to help his team perhaps get a hit. Big whoop, wanna fight about it?

  • AndrewYF

    Show me in the MLB Rulebook where it says relaying what you think are the right signs to the batter from second base is against the rules, and I’ll be against it.

    If not, it’s 100% a part of the game.

    • radnom

      this.

  • Mike HC

    Really great, entertaining video. Thanks for the post.

    I think that only adds to the mystique of the game. Even though you know signs get tipped all the time, it was pretty cool to watch as it was happening, in a huge game, involving the arguably the best pitcher and inarguably the best catcher in the game. Great stuff.

    • Cam

      Basically what I wanted to say. Very interesting stuff. The text during the video made it that much better too. Thanks guys.

  • Kyle

    If this was A-Rod, ESPN would be all over this and absolutely destroying him right now.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Yep.

      • JD NYC

        sorry, but no they wouldn’t. the only faction of the media that would make a big deal about this are those who have never played competitive baseball. espn has a couple of those guys on the payroll. for once, espn would provide the much more accurate coverage than deadspin (and RAB).

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          JD NYC: 1
          Ad hominem attack: 0

          • Raf

            YOU DIDNT PLAY BASEBALL SO YOUR WORDS MEAN NOTHING!!
            or something like that.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Moreover, not only is it a stupid ad hom attack, it’s also wrong. Many of the ESPN talking heads who DID play baseball say even more horrendously retarded shit than the ones who didn’t. Playing competitive baseball does not give you a monopoly on understanding competitive baseball.

              • JD NYC

                I was surprised Mike called for us to check out the clip immediately and that his title seemed provocative given that sign-stealing from second is so common-place, condoned and expected that sign-blocking has been in place since the beginning of signs themselves.

                My posts don’t give Mike enough credit for correctly pointing out that it’s probably OK – so cheerfully withdrawn.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  Thank you. Cheerfully accepted.

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

                  Please. It’s abundantly clear that the urgency was because MLB regularly takes things down from YouTube. In fact, the paralegals should have been on this one already.

                • JD NYC

                  OK, I didn’t realize that at the time but do now.

        • Kyle

          Clearly you don’t remember earlier in the year when someone at ESPN, I think it was Rick Sutcliffe, was actually accusing A-Rod on the air of stealing the signs. The amazing thing is that Mauer’s was way more noticeable than A-Rod’s, if A-Rod was even stealing the signs.

    • Mike bk

      no, the claim against a-rod was that he was tipping to the other team, not his own players…HUGE difference.

      • Kyle

        That was at Texas. Sutcliffe accused him of stealing the signs this year.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    This only makes me want to give the MVP vote that I don’t have to Joe Mauer all the more.

    • the artist formerly known as (sic)

      yep

    • Riddering

      Exactly. The man is a wonder.

      The Twins better find the money to resign him. Cookie-dough fundraisers, carwashes, whatever it takes…

  • Marc

    Gotta do what you gotta do to win a big game. Tell Verlander and Laird to change their signs up then.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside
    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Could you imagine if Arod came out on the field with a gun? The press would unfairly crush him. Pedroia would be a champion of the 2nd Amendment……typical ESPN bias.

  • lg

    Do I think it’s a big deal? Not really. For this reason: “This is nothing new to the game of baseball…Players have been stealing signs for over a hundred years.”

    How would you feel if you knew the Yanks did something like this in the postseason? I’d be a little disappointed that they had to resort to stealing signs for a win.

    What if they had it done to them? Again, I’d be disappointed that the other team hadn’t won fair-and-square.

    But like you said “Heck, for all we know Miguel Cabrera was stealing signs from second and relaying them to Bobby Keppel in the previous inning, when Keppel broke things open with a two-run single.”

    I’m not a major league baseball player and I have no idea how common sign stealing is. Anybody have any insight onto how widespread this problem is?

    If I were the Yanks (or any other team heading into the post season) I’d try to adopt new signs, strategies, etc to prevent the opponent from stealing signs. Clearly it’s an age-old problem, I hope the Yankees are creative enough to find a way from having it done to them.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      You don’t watch closely enough. Every team steals signals. It’s just not as blatant as what Mauer did.

  • JD NYC

    mike, deadspin found a very cool clip of something that is 100% kosher in baseball. there is absolutely nothing wrong w/ this. in fact it is expected by the catcher, that’s why there is an entirely separate set of signs the catcher sets down when a runner is on second. every team in the world that uses signs, from little league on up, expects the runner on 2nd to steal the sign if they can.

    this is a non-story and you are treating it as if it is controversial. it’s great there are these forums run by excellent writers w/ curious statistical minds. but next time there is whole-sale bashing of the establishment, it’s helpful to remember times like this when the blogosphere shows there’s a lot they don’t know about the game they’re covering.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Why don’t you concentrate more getting out of your late season slump, JOHNNY DAMON (if you are not Johnny Damon, please ignore).

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      I’m not treating it as controversial. I thought it was an interesting clip because while we all know it happens, who often do we actually notice a guy stealing signs?

      I just asked how everyone felt about it. I didn’t go off into some preached “Joe Mauer is ruining baseball” rant. If it doesn’t bother the Yanks might steal signs/have signs stolen against them, then say so.

      • JD NYC

        I’m sorry, I read the urgency of your opening paragraph as a sign of controversy. Maybe you were just pointing us over to Deadspin “immediately” because MLB would take the clip down due to Copyright related hijinx.

        Still, you’re calling for opinions on something that only has one side. It’s not like Joe Mauer has a moral choice not to steal that sign. Any player that can do it is supposed to and if he hadn’t because he thought it was “wrong” that would be an actual story.

        As long as teams have been using signs from the catcher to call pitches, they have been trying to hide them from runners on second. So having mixed feelings about this shows a fundamental lack of understanding about the game itself.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          I’m sorry, I read the urgency of your opening paragraph as a sign of controversy.

          That sounds like a YOU problem.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      this is a non-story and you are treating it as if it is controversial… next time there is whole-sale bashing of the establishment, it’s helpful to remember times like this when the blogosphere shows there’s a lot they don’t know about the game they’re covering.

      Yeah, Mike, you stupid blogger, STOP TREATING THIS LIKE IT’S SO DAMN CONTROVERSIAL!!!

      ——–
      Mike Axisa writes, emphasis mine:

      This is nothing new to the game of baseball and Mauer is far from a horrible person for it. Players have been stealing signs for over a hundred years, and Mauer’s team was behind in what was then the biggest game of their season. Laird and Verlander were aware of it (as you can see in the video), and did what they could to throw the pitch they wanted without giving away the signs. I’m sure Laird has stolen signs at some point in his career, so what’s the big deal?

      That’s the question, do you think it’s a big deal? It’s a big game for Minnesota and Mauer is doing what he can to help his team win. Heck, for all we know Miguel Cabrera was stealing signs from second and relaying them to Bobby Keppel in the previous inning, when Keppel broke things open with a two-run single. How would you feel if you knew the Yanks did something like this in the postseason? What if they had it done to them?

      Oh, so, you’re saying if I actually READ THE WORDS YOU WROTE, MIKE, instead of replying to the imaginary words that you didn’t write that I’m making up in my head to satisfy my own personal foolish crusade against net-nerds and their yellow blog-journalism, that it would be painfully obvious that you were NOT SAYING IT WAS CONTROVERSIAL AT ALL and that you were treating the whole kerfluffle as an innocuous much-ado-about-nothing?

      I’m sorry, I don’t know how I could have possibly misinterpreted that. Maybe I’m a moron.

      • Tseng

        How odd that a post appeared on Bronx Banter about 10 minutes before JD’s post.

        It read:

        5. jonnystrongleg
        October 1st, 2009 at 10:20 am
        Deadspin is running a story today on Mauer stealing signs from second base as if it was controversial. RAB picked up on it and also continued that theme.
        It’s a nice reminder that these esteemed sites w/ great writers and curious statiscal minds still have a lot to learn about how the game is acutally played. It puts some of the bullying in context, and also shows the player analysts can still serve a function that the sabr blogos can’t.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          DIE YOU NON-ATHLETIC NET NERDS!!!!!

          • Tseng

            No one who blogs has ever played sports ever.

            • Raf

              you cant type with a baseball glove on.

        • JD NYC

          damn, that sure reads like crappy sarcasm in my post. i kind of sucked at writing what i meant to say today. since i don’t join in a lot, you guys don’t know that i’m on your side. guess this didn’t help.

    • Raf

      i think before you start bashing blog writers its best to read what is written in the post. show us where controversial, wholesale bashing of the establishment and whatever else you are thinking Mike wrote are in this part of the post?

      “This is nothing new to the game of baseball and Mauer is far from a horrible person for it. Players have been stealing signs for over a hundred years, and Mauer’s team was behind in what was then the biggest game of their season. Laird and Verlander were aware of it (as you can see in the video), and did what they could to throw the pitch they wanted without giving away the signs. I’m sure Laird has stolen signs at some point in his career, so what’s the big deal?”

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      There are so many false assumptions here that there’s no clear place to start.

      Your agenda is showing, JD. You want to discredit blogs. Fine. That’s your right. But you’re better off ignoring us than coming on here, not reading the words in the post, and then making blanket statements.

      • jsbrendog

        it’s jay marrioti

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          (golf clap)

      • JD NYC

        Hey guys, I’m sorry to have started something here based on a poorly thought out & hasty post. I know the pile-on is fun and I sure left myself open to it, but I only intended to point out that, in this one case, seems to me Deadspin got it wrong. And I assumed Mike was agreeing with their take by linking and wanting to discuss it. Bad assumption it turns out.

        I don’t care if you agree w/ me or not, but I’m certainly not trying to bag on Mike or any bloggers who I respect a lot. I’d also note that I also praised these forums for their great writing and curious statistical minds – maybe that came off oas sarcasm, but it wasn’t.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

          Truce.

        • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Hold on… You keep referring to the Deadspin post as if you were wrong about RAB making this a big deal, but the Deadspin guys DID make it a big deal so you’re you were right in your reaction to Deadspin… But that’s BS, too. Here’s the full text of Deadspin’s post with this video:

          “Here’s Joe Mauer, in Monday night’s game, blatantly tipping pitches from second base. Trust me when I say there’s nothing extraordinary about this sort of thing.”

          Deadspin didn’t get anything wrong, you did. Your readings of both the RAB post and the Deadspin post are so woefully inaccurate that I question whether you actually read either post before you started commenting.

          • JMK aka The Overshare

            Reading through things often gets in the way of people’s agendas. For instance, I didn’t read this post (except for the last sentence; its like a mystery novel), but my agenda was criticizing this Johnny Damon guy without adding anything constructive to the conversation.

            AWW SHIAT!

          • JD NYC

            I think that Deadspin got it wrong about the worthiness of this story. And they call it cheating in the title. And they call it “tipping pitches” which is what Arod was accused of and is an entirely different thing. And the reaction of their readers is a discussion of this as cheating. So whether Deadspin realizes this is all part of a normal baseball game or not, I admit I don’t know. But I think they intended to call it cheating and then to get out of the way.

            I seem to have really set you off, and I certainly didn’t mean to. If you think Deadspin intended to present this piece as a cool clip of “inside” baseball, I disagree, but no reason to argue.

            • JMK aka The Overshare

              There is always a reason to argue.

            • Mike HC

              “tipping pitches” is what it is called. It is when you “tip off” to the batter what “pitch” is coming. It doesn’t matter what your motives are, or who you are tipping the pitches too. It is still called “tipping pitches”

            • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              “I think that Deadspin got it wrong about the worthiness of this story.”

              I don’t think so. It’s not like they had huge Drudge-sirens on this story. They posted the video with a 2 line post saying it’s nothing out of the ordinary. That’s all.

              “And they call it cheating in the title.”

              I addressed this below. Yeah, they shouldn’t have used that word. But it’s clear from the totality of their post, and the context, what they actually meant.

              “And they call it ‘tipping pitches’ which is what Arod was accused of and is an entirely different thing.”

              But itis tipping pitches. That’s an accurate descriptor.

              “And the reaction of their readers is a discussion of this as cheating.”

              I won’t discuss/defend Deadspin commenters other than to say that Deadspin commenting sections aren’t exactly well known as forums for serious, informed and intelligent sports discussion.

              “So whether Deadspin realizes this is all part of a normal baseball game or not, I admit I don’t know.”

              But you should know, because they said “Trust me when I say there’s nothing extraordinary about this sort of thing.” It’s one of the two sentences in the actual post, it’s not a hard statement to find.

              “But I think they intended to call it cheating and then to get out of the way.”

              Again… They shouldn’t have used the word “cheating.” No doubt.

              “I seem to have really set you off, and I certainly didn’t mean to.”

              You didn’t set me off, you made a comment and I responded to it, as did plenty of other people.

              “If you think Deadspin intended to present this piece as a cool clip of ‘inside’ baseball, I disagree, but no reason to argue.”

              No reason to argue? That’s kinda what we do here, we discuss baseball. If someone disagrees with you, they’ll likely argue the point with you. If you don’t like that, you probably shouldn’t put your opinions out there for public consumption.

    • Mike HC

      I saw this clip because a blog posted it. I got analysis from a blog. then I got to see what other people thought of the clip. You say the TV talking heads do “it” better, but I disagree in this instance.

      • JD NYC

        I went down a dumb path to begin with. If the clip is posted on a blog to show a cool example of Joe Mauer succeeding at a seldom disected aspect of inside baseball, I wholeheartedly agree with you.

        But if the clip is posted on a blog as evidence of cheating in baseball and to stir a debate over the “rightness” or “wrongness” of it, then I think that is a non-story, and I think, just in this one case, an analyst w/ playing experience (on any level) would be able to make that distinction.

        I did not feel either Deadspin nor RAB gave a clear indication that Mauer’s sign stealing is beyond reproach, but that doesn’t mean they intended to debate the morality of it. I assumed they did and have been shown (repeatedly) where I was mistaken.

  • http://www.fackyouk.blogspot.com MattB

    There’s a big difference between gamesmanship and cheating. This happened between the lines, and wasn’t exactly covert. Everyone was wise to what was going on.

    The onus is on the pitcher and catcher to come up with a series of signals that isn’t so easily deciphered. Failing that, a 100 MPH up and in heater from Verlander may be enough to get Mauer and Kubel to think twice about doing it again.

  • Ed

    How would you feel if you knew the Yanks did something like this in the postseason? I’d be a little disappointed that they had to resort to stealing signs for a win.

    I fully expect them to do it any chance they get. I’d be quite surprised if they didn’t.

    I’m not a major league baseball player and I have no idea how common sign stealing is. Anybody have any insight onto how widespread this problem is?

    It’s not a problem. It’s an expected part of the game. It happens at all levels starting around high school.

    If I were the Yanks (or any other team heading into the post season) I’d try to adopt new signs, strategies, etc to prevent the opponent from stealing signs.

    Catchers usually give more complex signs when there’s a guy on second. They’ll thrown down maybe 3 sets of signs, and change which one is the one that counts if they feel they’ve been figured out. They’ve probably got more tricks as well.

    I’m guessing this case more difficult because the runner involved happened to be a really good catcher, so he’s got a better feel for the signs than most players would.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I’m guessing this case more difficult because the runner involved happened to be a really good catcher, so he’s got a better feel for the signs than most players would.

      That.

    • Ed

      Weird, that was supposed to be a reply to lg’s comment. No idea why that didn’t nest.

  • dan

    I read a book about this recently, it’s called “The Hidden Language of Baseball”. It’s all about signs and sign stealing. The overwhelming message in the book is that sign stealing is an incredibly common practice.

    SpyGate happened for baseball in the 70’s and everybody did it. Billy Martin used to use the closed circuit TV monitors to get signs when he managed the Rangers. During the ’76 world series, 3 Yankee scouts holding walkie-talkies were spotted in the press boxes near TV monitors and were accused of sign stealing. They said they were merely relaying advice on defensive positioning. The outcome was that in 1991, 15 years later, the National League ruled that walkie-talkies could no longer be used to align fielders. The American League has no such rule.

    “It’s part of the game. It’s your job on second base to do everything you can to help your batter and it is the pitchers’ and catchers; job not to give it away.” -Don Mattingly

    “Nothing is wrong with stealing from second, that’s been going on for a hundred years.” — Don Zimmer

    Both are quotes from the book. Not only will we do something like Mauer did in the playoffs, we probably always have. I mean just consider the sources.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I am curious as to how many players actually use it, though. I bet there’s lots of guys who don’t want signs relayed to them. It could throw off your concentration, give you too much to think about.

      Hitters are trained to read and react, not to “get a signal” and react. Stealing signs can sometimes do more harm than good…

      • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

        Singleton always says he didn’t like to get them when he was playing; I believe O’Neill has said the same.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Yeah, I remember one of them – or maybe even Tino – saying he didn’t like to know what kind of pitch, just location.

  • steve s

    It seems to me that Mauer was pretty amatuerish in the way he tried to signal Kubel. It doesn’t take a genius to steal a sign when they are standing on 2nd but it does take some skills to convey the info without being so obvious and pissing off the other team.

  • Chris

    Once it was clear that the Tigers knew what was going on, wouldn’t it just have been better for Mauer to yell “Fastball”? It’s somewhat distracting when the pitcher and catcher know he’s stealing signs, but it would have been even more distracting to have him call out the pitch.

    On the same note, shouldn’t this be a strike against Mauer for MVP? He should have been more discrete in relaying the signs so the Tigers didn’t notice.

    • Marc

      No this shouldn’t be a strike against Mauer for the MVP. Hell I’d want every player on my team tipping pitches to the batter.

      If anything I think he deserves the MVP more.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        +7

      • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        “If anything I think he deserves the MVP more.”

        Agreed. You know that tired old narrative we’re fed sometimes about how certain players make their teammates better? Joe Mauer actually does make his teammates better.

      • Chris

        Apparently I wasn’t clear enough.

        It should be a strike against him not because he was stealing signs, but because he was doing so in a manner that was easily detected by the other team. If he wants to be the MVP, then he should be better than that!

  • http://thebronxzoo.wordpress.com iYankees

    Anything to win… except steroids.

    • JMK aka The Overshare

      Except steroids? Wrong. If we’re down big I expect and demand that the Yanks release the lions and gladiators to maim and kill the opposing team. They’d have to forfeit. WIN AT ALL COSTS!!

      Maybe injecting lion semen into their asses would give the Yankees an edge. If so, I’m all for it.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Maybe injecting lion semen into their asses would give the Yankees an edge.

        It got me through high school…

        • JMK aka The Overshare

          Bitches used to call me “Nala” on the playground. Took me a while to figure out that wasn’t a compliment.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            OVERSHARE FTW!

  • Rey22

    Great video on what happens behind the scenes in baseball. Well, except it wasn’t too behind the scenes this time.

  • dan

    Yeah there was a small bit on that. A few players over the years have said they never used relayed signs because of the concentration issue you alluded to.

    Really it’s no different than taking advantage of a pitcher who tips his pitches. Any indicator is fair game to take advantage of if you can decipher it. The Giants famous “Shot heard ’round the world” has historically been linked to a stolen sign since 1951.

    The real problem with the Mauer clip is that he was too intentional in relaying signals to the hitter. That’s the true “unwritten rule”. Don’t be blatant.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Helpful hint: Please use the reply button. Keeps the conversation neater. Thanks in advance.

      • dan

        yeah thought i did.

        (hangs head in shame)

    • http://www.teamnerdrage.com leokitty

      A batter on second stealing signs is different from setting up an elaborate scheme involving telescopes and buzzers to steal signs.

      • dan

        No, no it’s not. It’s basically all the same thing. The intended purpose is the same in both instances — give the batter an advantage. The only difference lies in the means by which you accomplish it.

        • Tank Foster

          That’s ridiculous, Dan. You completely miss the key difference between a player, on the field, being observant and obtaining information, and a team using non-players and technology to influence the game. “Stealing” signs isn’t stealing, it isn’t wrong. It’s part of being alert and playing baseball.

          • dan

            So a manager couldn’t steal a 3rd base coach’s sign from the bench and signal to his players to play the bunt from the bench? It’s gotta be a player on the field who picks this stuff up? That makes so much more sense, thanks.

            What we’re arguing is semantics. At the end of the day, cheating is cheating. That’s what I meant when I said “The intended purpose is the same in both instances — give the batter an advantage. The only difference lies in the means by which you accomplish it.” Stael signs, peek in the glove, relay signals using telegraph, check video and walkie it in — essentially all the same shit we’re talking here.

            Just because one way of cheating is more socially accepted in some baseball circles than another doesn’t necessarily make it different or a better brand of cheating. It’s still cheating. Kinda like how manslaughter is a degree of murder with a lighter penalty, but still it’s fucking murder, right?

            And cheating has always been a MAJOR part of baseball, people just don’t readily accept that as fact. Think of the ways players have accomplished it in the last 100 years: corked bats, doctored balls, gambling, stolen signs, PEDs, the list goes on. You can’t really pick and choose which one is okay and which one isn’t despite our best efforts. Cheating is cheating, it’s that cut and dry.

  • Will

    For one thing, the captions in the video are far from definitive. Mauer was probably trying to steal signs, but it certainly doesn’t look like Kubel was taking them. The captions seem to reach conclusions that just aren’t there. For example, if Laird and Verlander knew Mauer was stealing signs, why would they not change them (and why was there never a mound conference)?

    Secondly, stealing signs from 2B is simply a non-story. Every team does it at one time or another. That’s why you see so many mound conferences and complicated sign routines with a man on 2B. I think Deadspin needs to get a better handle on the game if they think this is a big story.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      I was wondering about that in the video, too. It was clear he was stealing signs, unless it’s coincidence that he tapped the side of his helmet for curveball and the front of his face for fastball. Which, I suppose, it could be.

      Again, I think the coolness of this clip is that we hardly ever get to see sign stealing in action.

      • Will

        It’s definitely an interesting video, but Deadspin suggesting that it is “cheating” is a bit much.

        After watching the video, it looks like Mauer was tipping signs using pre-ordained signs, but that Kubel wasn’t even watching. Not all players want to be tipped (not the least of which is because the tipper could be wrong), so that’s not strange. It would be fun to go back and watch Mauer on 2B on other games to see if he is so blatant.

        • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          I think people are getting a little too worked up about Deadspin’s poorly worded headline (with the word “cheating”), it’s not like Deadspin actually implied Mauer did anything wrong.

          Deadspin: “Here’s Joe Mauer, in Monday night’s game, blatantly tipping pitches from second base. Trust me when I say there’s nothing extraordinary about this sort of thing.”

          Deadspin shouldn’t have used the word “cheating” in its headline. But it’s Deadspin, it’s not like those guys choose their words very carefully or seriously. Their post makes it clear they aren’t saying this is a big deal.

          • Will

            I don’t think saying something isn’t extraordinary is the same as implying it isn’t a big deal. Star players taking steroids isn’t extraordinary, for example, yet it seems to be a big deal. While I realize Deadspin isn’t exactly a paragon of serious blogging, they do deserve some criticism for a poorly worded headline, which is almost as long as the “story”.

            • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              Oh for sure, you’re right, the headline deserves criticism. I just think that when you read the actual post, and keep the identity of the author in mind, it’s clear they’re saying this isn’t a big deal and their choice of words in the headline is just dumb and, frankly, Deadspin-ish.

    • http://goldenrule.mlblogs.com/ Bryan V

      You may be onto something here. I actually didn’t see any proof that there was cheating involved. Just a lot of “possible” cheating. Like they may have been reading into things.

    • Mike HC

      Kubal knew what pitch was coming, but not the location, and even if he knew everything, it is still not easy to hit. The curveballs were good pitches and Verlander throws about 99 mph fastballs. Kubal obviously had trouble hitting the curve, which is why he was staying away from it, and why Verlander kept throwing it. The only fastball thrown was basically thrown at him.

      How can you claim this stuff is a non story because it happens all the time, while also claiming you are skeptical that he was stealing signs? Every caption was not necessarily true, but it as one guys take on what was happening. NO matter what you think, it was obvious Mauer was tipping the pitches to the batter. If you need more evidence than that, I would love to have you on the jury for my future murder trial (kidding).

  • http://www.teamnerdrage.com leokitty

    Mauer should be a little less blatant in the future when he’s doing this. It reminds me of a Tampa(?) game last year or the year before where Gomes(?) was trying to steal signs (or signal location) to the batter and Jorge jumped up and ran screaming at him.

    Batter on bases stealing signs is…whatever. It’s when you’ve got Leo Derocher setting up a telescope in the scoreboard that you’re doing something wrong.

  • http://goldenrule.mlblogs.com/ Bryan V

    Like the late, great, Eddie Guerrero once said…

    If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’

    Okay, so that may be a little much. But I don’t see the big deal with stealing signs. Like Mike said…it’s been happening for decades. It’s part of the game. And PREVENTING other teams from stealing signs is also part of the game.

    • jsbrendog

      golf clap for the latino heat reference

  • Tank Foster

    In baseball, as in most sports, a huge part of the game is mental…what pitch to throw if you’re the pitcher/catcher, and what pitch is coming if you’re the batter (and fielder).

    To me, it’s not an issue of “no big deal” on sign stealing, insofar as I take it most people are thinking “it’s stealing, but hey you do whatever’s necessary to win.”

    It isn’t “iffy,” it isn’t wrong, it’s definitely not cheating. It’s actually the right thing to do, it’s what teams should do. If it’s ok for one team to make up signs in order to plan a strategy, then it’s ok for the other to try to figure them out.

    One could easily ask why we never hear anyone say “those Red Sox, they’re so SNEAKY with their evil little signs and signals.”

    To me, it would be more “immoral,” (if we can use such a serious term in something like baseball) to NOT try to steal signs than to steal them. Strategy and decisions are integral to the game; trying to figure out the other team’s signs is morally equivalent to making up signs of your own in order to try to get an advantage and win. If you’re not playing to win, you shouldn’t be playing.

    It’s not even “gamesmanship.” Gamesmanship is, for me, something like ARod shouting at Aaron Hill making him drop the pop up. That is a bit closer to something smarmy or cheating, but I still say it isn’t. Cheating is corking your bat, loading up the ball, spiking the SS on the DP, etc.

  • Keanu Reeves

    I’m sure this has been said, but this is absolutely part of the game. It is the job of the pitcher and the catcher to be as discrete as possible about what pitch is coming. If it wasn’t expected that runners on second base weren’t trying to steal signs, catchers wouldn’t have series of signs, most of which mean nothing.

    Yes this may not be the most honorable thing to do, but there is nothing wrong with it, and there is also nothing wrong with Mauer getting drilled in the back the next time he faces Verlander.

  • Matt Vorwald

    I really lost all respect for Mike (and he lost all credibility) when he went on to describe Miguel Cabrera feeding Bob Keppel signs.

    1. Bob Keppel is a pitcher, not a hitter.
    2. Bob Keppel plays for the Twins, not the Tigers.
    3. Does Mike even know what baseball is? Looking doubtful…

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      OH SHIT MIKE YOU STUPID NET NERD YOU DONT KNOW ABOUT BASEBALL YOUR SOCIALIST CREDIBILITY IS TARNISHED

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Let’s look at the gamelog:
      B Keppel relieved B Duensing. 0 3
      B Inge singled to left, R Raburn and M Cabrera scored, M Thames to second.

      It’s quite easy to see how a too-quick glance at the gamelog could lead to that mistake. If you can’t see that, well, then you’ve lost all credibility and my respect.

  • thurdonpaul

    i have a simple way to keep guys on second from stealing signs….dont allow anyone to reach second

    • thurdonpaul

      is my connection to RAB messed up ? or is there a general problem here, i seem to be froze

  • Bo

    Isnt stealing signs part of the game? Teams are supposed to change their signs when runners hit 2nd base. Seems lazy.

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  • anon

    Steal signs. Give them to Arod. Watch balls leave earth. Profit.

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