For a World Series game, last night’s three-hour and 25-minute affair isn’t a long one. We’ve seen nine-inning playoff games stretch well past the four-hour mark. It wasn’t though for a lack of trying on the part of CC Sabathia and Jorge Posada. As many noticed, the two had enough conversations on the mound to last a lifetime.
Landon Evanson at Bugs and Cranks summed up his feelings:
For f*** sake, how many times does Posada need to head out there for a heart-to-heart? I mean, trips to the bump on 0-2 counts with two outs and nobody on? What could possibly be shared at that moment? Seriously, is it too much to ask that Posada and the likes of C.C. Sabathia or any of New York’s hurlers get on the same page?
I understand you have to get the signs and the sequences down but the Bombers battery does realize that they can talk in the dugout, right? I mean, that’s still allowed in the World Series, isn’t it? Or have the Yankees done away with that like the whole facial hair thing?
You get the point. Except for Yankee fans placing their hopes, fears and low blood pressure on every pitch, most baseball fans — and especially those sporting red in Citizens Bank Park — just wanted CC Sabathia to throw the ball. Of course, it’s never really that simple, and today, Buster Olney offered up a reason in his blog post dissecting the game.
“Sunday night,” Olney writes, “Jorge Posada went with multiple pitch signs even when there were not any runners on base — and the reason, one longtime talent evaluator said, is that there has long been a concern among visiting teams that the Phillies steal signs from their bullpen and relay them to the hitter.”
In the prior paragraph in his post, Olney notes that the Phillies are concerned with the Yanks’ hitters as well. Apparently, Carlos Ruiz believes that A-Rod peeks back for a hint at pitch location — something every good hitter does — and has tried to shift late to receive the pitch.
Meanwhile, Olney wasn’t the only person noting the sequences behind the plate. In a rare moment of good analysis, Tim McCarver and Joe Buck noted that both teams’ batteries seemed to be going with a series of signs with no one on base instead of just one sign with location. Clearly, someone or everyone is trying to gain an edge.
Some baseball fans might object. Are the Phillies trying to cheat? Are the Yankees trying to disrupt the Phillies’ hitters’ rhythms at the plate? Is A-Rod trying to gain an edge? It’s all part of the game within the game as the league’s top two teams fight it out for the crown. Keep an eye tonight on A.J. Burnett and Jose Molina. The two of them love to chat, and if Olney’s analysis is right, we should see a lot of conversations and fewer signs from Molina.
Tonight, though, won’t be the end of this sign-stealing brouhaha. Between A-Rod’s getting plunked and the Sabathia/Posada conversations, sparks will fly when these teams play during Spring Training next year. For now, winning the World Series is what matters, but baseball players never forget.