There’s no Spying in Baseball

As a Torontonian and a Blue Jays fan I have followed the plight of the Jays for years but recently there has been some hope. After the Jays hired Alex Anthopoulos they began to slowly turn things around. Then came Jose Bautista who hit a league leading 54 HRs in 2010 and began to enter into the conversation for the best player in the MLB. This was a major surprise as Bautista became a start almost overnight going from a journeyman to a home run king in his first year with the Jays. Of course as the MLB is attempting to recover from the Steroid era the questions began to flow about whether Bautista had some unnatural help. Bautista crushed these rumours as he passed every drug test he had ever gone through and explained that the change in his offence came from his new timing mechanism that the Jays coaches gave him. This year Bautista has had a few power slumps but has still been able to hit 33 HRs so far and the Jays seem to be on track to building a playoff team for the first time in a long time. Of course with this rise in production there has been some fire back as a report recently surfaced accusing the Jays of cheating. This time the cheating was not through Performance Enhancing Drugs but instead Stealing Signs. For those who don’t know stealing signs refers to someone looking at the catcher and figuring out what pitch the other team will be throwing, then this person relays the sign to the batter in order to get an upper leg on the competition. This practice has gone on from the beginning of baseball and still goes on today, usually by a runner on second base. The accusations towards the Jays have come from anonymous players on what has been reportedly revealed as the Chicago White Sox. The Yankees have also accused the Jays of stealing signs this year as they have started to switch up signs while playing in Toronto. The unusual part of the story is that the accusations state that the Jays have placed someone in the stands to steal signs in order to gain an upper hand. The accusations are being taking seriously by a magazine in the U.S. and have been backed up using stats, baseball is a numbers game, that show the Jays ability to hit much better at home than away. The stats also show that opposing teams do not hit any better at home leading them to believe that the Jays have some type of upper hand playing at home. The report of the alleged spying specifically claims that the Jays have placed a man wearing a white T-Shirt in the Right Centre Field seats who would raise his arms when an off speed pitch was coming and would do nothing when a regular pitch would be coming. By doing this the team members claim that the Jays are figuring out the signs and are able to hit much better by knowing what type of pitch is coming.

Now as a fan of baseball I have to point out that there is not one thing in the rulebook that states that stealing signs is illegal. This is why every team has done it at one point or another, even the Blue Jays. Even having something in the crowd or below the video screen, as the Cardinals were accused of earlier in the year, is not illegal. The biggest thing about sign stealing is that it is frowned upon especially when it is outside of the field. It is a bit less sportsmanlike as you try to get a step up in a way that is not using your natural ability and skills to do so. I am not a fan of sign stealing especially outside of the diamond as I believe you should just be able to win the mini battle between the pitcher and the batter with your own skills and abilities. Whether or not I agree with it does not change that it happens however and does not change that it will always be a part of baseball. Outside the base paths is a stretch however and if the Jays are doing this they should definitely be ashamed of it. The biggest problem I have is that there is no real proof of the Jays stealing signs at all. The only proof comes from four anonymous pitchers on the same team who claim they saw it happen. If this was happening and it did have a big effect then why are the Jays struggling to remain above .500 and not destroying the baseball every time they get to bat at the Rogers Centre. Not only does the lack of offence poke holes in the story but there is also the fact that the supposed “spy” was apparently sitting in the outfield and reading signs. I don’t know if anyone has been to the outfield seats at Rogers Centre but I would find it hard for a person sitting there to see the fingers of the catcher from that distance with any kind of accuracy. This story seems to me to be a way to make waves and maybe distract from their own bad play or a way to explain why one of the bottom teams in the MLB actually looks to be playing well again. Alex Anthopoulos and Jose Bautista have both vehemently denied the accusations and without any proof I believe that it is a complete farce on the part of the magazine in question and the players that “witnessed” the action. I say leave it at that and let the Jays and the rest of baseball look towards the end of the season without having to deal with something so ridiculous.

2 Responses to “There’s no Spying in Baseball”
  1. Chris Ross says:

    Great post. I wasn’t surprised to see the allegations against the Blue Jays because there have been rumblings but I was surprised by the selective evidence searching of the article on ESPN. We all know that the media forms articles to conform to their views but this seems a bit over the top. I guess you can take the article any way you want but it looks as though there was a lot of evidence discounted by ESPN. I would like to see what comes of this because there clearly isn’t enough evidence right now to make any justified conclusions I don’t think. Also, you think you could check out my blog cuz I’d love to hear what you have to say

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  1. […] were, once again, cheating. To be completely frank the accusations make no sense as you can see in my article about it last summer. It seems as though anytime that the Jays have some success there is a reason […]

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