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Friday, April 30, 2021

Why sign stealing is acceptable in baseball, but there’s a place to draw the line

Twice within the last week, there’s been at least mild controversy made over the matter of sign stealing that leads me to believe we could take a collective breath here. Let’s review the instances:

Saturday, Padres wunderkind Fernando Tatis Jr. took Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer deep. A bit later, some 2021-version Zapruder-like footage emerged of Tatis possibly glancing back toward catcher Will Smith’s signs. Bauer tweeted about it. It went viral, and drew the ire of many fans. A column in the LA Times brought up the 2017 Astros and said the Dodgers, “once again had been robbed, embarrassed and played for fools.” Bauer didn’t take kindly to the possibility that Tatis was peeking. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, via dodgers.com, “when you talk about peeking, that’s just not the way you play baseball. If that is the case, which I don’t know, that’ll be noted.”

Monday, Tigers legend Miguel Cabrera said the White Sox were accusing them of relaying signs from second base. He was none too happy. Here are Cabrera’s comments, via freep.com: “It was the second baseman because he tried to tell the catcher and the pitcher we passed the sign. I mean, come on, that’s some (expletive). I don’t play that game. You need to respect. You don’t need to show up me or somebody or the runner on second, trying to say we passed the sign from second. Come on, get the (expletive) out of here. That’s not right.”

In taking the brief description of both instances into consideration, it tells me that the sport hasn’t completely healed since the 2017 Astros and, to a lesser extent, the 2018 Red Sox were both caught electronically sign stealing. These were sign-stealing scandals involving back-to-back World Series champions. Legions of casual fans found out there was cheating done by the champions and hear the word “stealing” in there. That must mean all sign stealing is bad, right?

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 30, 2021 at 09:40 AM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sign-stealing

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   1. catomi01 Posted: April 30, 2021 at 12:08 PM (#6016302)
So its not right to steal signs...but its also not right to accuse someone of stealing signs...got it. I'll go update my copy of the unwritten rules.
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 30, 2021 at 12:40 PM (#6016308)
What if you steal signs from a rich man who will never miss them, to give them to a poor man who desperately needs them to survive?
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 30, 2021 at 12:57 PM (#6016313)
Sign, sign
Everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery
Breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that
Can't you read the sign?
   4. jmurph Posted: April 30, 2021 at 01:00 PM (#6016314)
I wish they could find a way to make it all against the rules because this conversation is so tedious. In the meantime, given that it's not against the rules, pitchers and catchers need to stop their constant whining.
   5. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 30, 2021 at 01:04 PM (#6016315)
Sign stealing could be radically reduced with a few pre-arranged heaters that go high and inside, while the visible sign is calling for a changeup low and away. If nothing else, it'd make for some interesting conversations in the sign stealers' dugout.
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: April 30, 2021 at 01:05 PM (#6016316)

I wish they could find a way to make it all against the rules because this conversation is so tedious. In the meantime, given that it's not against the rules, pitchers and catchers need to stop their constant whining.


The problem is baseball doesn't really have penalties, other than ejection. I suppose you could assign strikes or outs, but that's not something the sport has embraced.

That's why you end up in a situation where the solution to so many of these issues is assault.
   7. Itchy Row Posted: April 30, 2021 at 01:05 PM (#6016317)
Cabrera doesn't make it to second much anymore. Does he even remember the signs?
   8. pthomas Posted: April 30, 2021 at 01:09 PM (#6016318)
If I was a manager I'd flaunt my team's skill at sign stealing. Even if they all sucked at it and had no idea how to do it. The other team's heads would be so far up their ass worried about "they are stealing our signs" they would lose just a bit of concentration.
Baseball and baseball writers have lost their got damn minds.

"They're taking our jerbs!"
   9. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: April 30, 2021 at 01:31 PM (#6016322)
Sign stealing could be radically reduced with a few pre-arranged heaters that go high and inside, while the visible sign is calling for a changeup low and away. If nothing else, it'd make for some interesting conversations in the sign stealers' dugout.


Yeah! Let's hit them in the head with a fastball just because they had the audacity to glance back at where the catcher's glove was! #### EM, RIGHT!!??
   10. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 30, 2021 at 01:41 PM (#6016325)
Yeah! Let's hit them in the head with a fastball just because they had the audacity to glance back at where the catcher's glove was! #### EM, RIGHT!!??

No, but let a few batters who've received stolen signs have to hit the dirt now and then, and maybe they won't be so sure about their information the next time. Pitching high and inside has always been part of a pitcher's repertory.

Mind you, I don't have any moral case to make against non-electronic sign stealing. But there are two competing interests at stake here, and sign stealing isn't a constitutional right, it's just a tactic that can be countered by other means.
   11. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: April 30, 2021 at 02:18 PM (#6016328)
I wish they could find a way to make it all against the rules because this conversation is so tedious. In the meantime, given that it's not against the rules, pitchers and catchers need to stop their constant whining.
Indeed, it's ridiculously tedious. Emulate the NFL and let the dugout communicate with the catcher and pitcher via wireless headsets and microphones.
   12. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 30, 2021 at 03:16 PM (#6016341)
Now THAT would bring the art of sign stealing to a whole new level. I know I'd be suspicious if I then saw a bunch of pimply faced teenagers sitting behind the visitors' dugout, buried in their phones and never putting them down while the game was in progress.
   13. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: April 30, 2021 at 04:27 PM (#6016358)
I suppose you could assign strikes or outs, but that's not something the sport has embraced.

I'm sure Rob Manfred would consider it given that he's already given the green light to the auto-IBB and the zombie runner as diabolus ex machina events where some result happens without a corresponding "baseball move," to paraphrase the NFL.
   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 30, 2021 at 04:54 PM (#6016363)
I know I'd be suspicious if I then saw a bunch of pimply faced teenagers sitting behind the visitors' dugout, buried in their phones and never putting them down while the game was in progress.
That pretty much describes teenagers' behavior at all times.
   15. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: April 30, 2021 at 05:13 PM (#6016367)
I know I'd be suspicious if I then saw a bunch of pimply faced teenagers sitting behind the visitors' dugout, buried in their phones and never putting them down while the game was in progress.


That's just because you should be suspicious any time there's a teenager present, but not because that particular activity implies anything other than what typical teenage behavior at a ballpark would look like.

Edit: Coke to Mr. Ripken.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: April 30, 2021 at 06:06 PM (#6016379)
#5: My favorite Harry Caray and Steve Stone moment (OK, probably the only one I remember clearly). Catcher mysteriously goes out to the mound. "Must be going out there to talk about dinner plans, eh Steve?" "Actually Harry, the batter has been peaking back to steal the catcher's location so he's telling him he's going to set up on one side of the plate but wants the pitcher to throw it to the other side." Catcher sets up outside, they lace a fastball on the inside corner while the batter is leaning out over the plate for strike three.

Oil and water those two but somehow it worked more often than not.

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