The Jays and Stealing Signs

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Baseball mortality during the dog days of August

The Yankees, specifically Joe Girardi and Russell Martin, made a little bit of a stink during the team’s four-game series in Toronto immediately after the All-Star break, suggesting that the Blue Jays were stealing signs. They weren’t the first team to make such accusations, and the ESPN duo of Amy Nelson and Peter Keating published an article today about said accusations. They’ve spoken to opposing players who’ve seen a person relay signs from the standings, and dug up some more possible evidence. It’s a pretty interesting read, so check it out.

Link Dump: Burnett, Best Tools, Romine, Arodys
Baseball mortality during the dog days of August
  • Rick in Boston

    Pretty damning. Granderson and a bullpen full of pitchers have seen it. But Selig’s precedent, as mentioned in the article, is to just slap them on the wrists.

    • Jim S

      Eh, I don’t know exactly how damning it is. It’s very circumstantial(and biased, when talking about the Yankees account), and something that without concrete video evidence(or someone coming forward) is nearly impossible to prove, which makes it very difficult to punish.

      The more I think about it, the more I think we’ll need someone associated with the alleged sign stealing to come forward with legit evidence.

    • vin

      Granderson didn’t see it. He was notified via text that something was going on…

      “Granderson recently confirmed that he received that text and says he was looking from the bench during one game when he was serving as DH. ‘From where I was sitting in the dugout, 300, 400 feet away, I couldn’t see anything,’ he said.”

  • Crime Dog

    Yeah but let’s make a big stink about ARod playing poker. Good job Selig, really making yourself look great here.

    On another note, sounds like it was the O’s who had the in-game complaint (played the Blue Jays the last series of ’09, as mentioned in the article). Interesting, very interesting.

    • Rick in Boston

      I think it’s the Orioles, too, but they were last there 9/21 to 9/23/09 (the two clubs finished the season in Baltimore).

  • Sayid J.

    Reading the comments on the article and on Twitter with people defending the Jays is very, very painful.

    I’ll highlight this one in particular from Mike Wilners, a Blue Jays announcer who sarcastically notes that…
    “#Bluejays sign-stealing prowess was such that they had EIGHT more extra-base hits at RC than #redsox had at Fenway in 2010.”

    The fact that one of the top offenses in baseball, that plays in a huge hitters haven, got outproduced by the Blue Jays, should not be provided as evidence to disprove Jays cheating

    I also hate the commentary on the Blue Jays record at home. The Blue Jays were/are not a great team. Their record is irrelevant in whether or not they were stealing signs. Sure, they were .500 at home, maybe they would’ve been worse if they weren’t stealing signs.

    Lastly, I hate the “CHANGE YOUR SIGNS!!” comments. Cheating is cheating is cheating. This isn’t a player on second base peaking in to see signs. This is a guy using the aid of technology and signals to help the team. Teams are clearly catching on and changing their signs, but that should not make this a moot point.

    I try not to allow myself to continue reading the ridiculous defenses out there, but I can’t help it.

    • Jim S

      I don’t know, it’s obviously not cut and dry. Some of the accusers are just as ridiculous, honestly.

      I’m not sure where I stand, it seems pretty coincidental if it weren’t true, but eh. The accounts of opposing players can’t serve as concrete evidence with which to levee a punishment. You need something more.

      But what I find most hysterical is that everyone seems to be ignoring the elephant in the room when it comes to why the Jays don’t win more often: PITCHING.

      • Sayid J.

        Right exactly. I don’t meant to say that it’s definitely true. I just mean that the people defending the Jays have much less convincing evidence than those who believe the Jays cheated, and it is frustrating to listen to them. Other people on the ESPN article (only God knows why I read those comments) were urging Amy Nelson to be fired for such horrible writing. I can’t fathom that response. Nelson, IMO, did a fantastic job of tracking down people who were actually willing to talk about what happened. All this time, we’ve been hearing rumors, but to finally get some people to talk on the record, even anonymously, should be commended. Whether or not you agree, Nelson’s reporting is certainly not shoddy.

  • Jesse


  • Alex

    Now I’m not one to point fingers but the Red Sox play similar to the Jays at home.

    • Oeld

      They don’t need to steal signs with the handball court in Left.

      • Rick in Boston

        You could do it. The CF bleachers are Fenway are at the correct angle, but I wonder if the angle is too steep to see the signs correctly.

  • nathan

    The only issue with this article they forgot to trash the Yanks of false accusation lol…. ESPN providing some evidence to back up Yankee claims? What’s this bizzarro world?

  • SDM

    How many times do we keep hearing this? If there’s smoke there’s fire, and the Jays have been accused to many times over the past few years for this to be empty complaints.

  • ChrisS

    From the article: Sure enough, the man in white was raising his arms above his head before every off-speed pitch and doing nothing when the pitch being called was a fastball. and By themselves, these numbers are circumstantial evidence. Unsupported by data, the four players’ accounts might describe a scheme of uncertain impact.

    Wouldn’t this show up in the PitchFX data? The Jays would be swinging at fewer breaking pitches and more fastballs?

    • Colombo

      Not necessarily. If they knew a breaking pitch was coming rather than a fastball, they could adjust, leading to better results off the off-speed pitch.

  • The Captain

    Whether or not they actually ARE stealing signs, and it seems like they are the more you hear about it, it’s not like it’s doing them any good. The Jays are wasting away in 4th place again just like they are every year, so what does it matter?

  • usty

    My thought is wouldn’t the mysterious man in the white shirt show up on some behind the batter camera somewhere? They have tons of footage from the past 3 years and ESPN couldn’t find one clip to confirm?

    • Rick in Boston

      Looking at photos of Rogers Centre, I’m guessing that he was to the left or right of the batters’ eye, meaning that the “Man in White” might not be in the shot when you take into consideration the height of the OF seats.

  • CP

    My only issue with these accusations of sign stealing is what happens when a player changes teams. For example, how do you hide a sign stealing scheme when you now have Vernon Wells playing for the Angels? Wouldn’t he call them out on it when the Angels go to Toronto?

    • chaz

      Not if the revelation contained evidence that he (Wells) was complicit in it.

  • Scully

    The thing that people (especially Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos) are quick to point out is the Jays middling home record as a defense against the accusations of sign stealing. A quick check of their team pitching stats shows they’re 24th in team ERA, 21st in quality starts, 18th in BAA, 24th in OPS against and 24th in home runs against. Point being their pitching staff is meh to crap at best.

    The ESPN article shows their drastic home power numbers and percentages. The reason I’m angry is because this team, which is owned by one of the largest corporations and in one of the largest MLB cities is about two years away from being serious contenders. I can stomach, and would even welcome, Toronto’s return to true competition and relativity in baseball and in the AL East, but i’d rather they didn’t help themselves this illegally. I was at this game last year and it was obvious to me that either Burnett was tipping his pitches or the Jays were stealing signs and at the time, this was before all these accusations came to light.

  • Mykey

    If you read the comments on that article… People are ridiculous.

  • FIPster Doofus

    Meh. Don’t care.

  • vin

    Sign stealing appears to be the new PEDs.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    i don’t get the issue here..the essense of signs is deception to create an advantage…and if you can figure out how to steal a sign then you have offset that advantage…

    the answer is to switch the signs often so they don’t get stolen..

    • Crime Dog

      That’s all well and good when the sign stealers are ON the field. When its off the field, thats the issue

      • Foghorn Leghorn

        i stand corrected! these aholes need to be drawn and quartered!

      • Lazy Bones Andruw Jones

        This. In order to stay ahead of someone off the field signs would have to be changed every at bat. Remeber the ’09 World Series with Posada’s mound visits?

  • Lazy Bones Andruw Jones

    Just don’t yell “Ha” when running around the bases… that’s bush league.

  • Nogomo

    Methinks Getting Blanked doth protest too much, and w way too many boring stats.