In today’s press conference, Royals pitcher Edinson Volquez revealed to the media that his recently shelled counterpart, Johnny Cueto, had suspected the Blue Jays of stealing signs in the previous evenings offensive onslaught. Cueto was tagged for eight runs and was only able to record six outs in the process. This also included four walks, which are notoriously difficult to obtain through sign stealing, but none the less…here we are.
Aside from the entirely separate expose regarding the ever growing laundry list of items contributing to Cueto’s lack of performance, the topic at hand is the aid of stolen signs by the Blue Jays at home.
There are dozens…hundreds of articles on the subject. There is no need to link any, just Google “Jays Stolen Signs” and you will have reading for hours. In short, the Jays offensive numbers at home are incredible in comparison with their road splits while their pitching seems to suffer a much less drastic effect of playing in Toronto. A curious statistical anomaly that goes beyond simply being a fluke or a coincidence.
So now what?
What? You can’t be serious, that’s CHEATING!
The Kansas City Royals bench coach himself had this to say just a few short years back in an article for MLB:
Royals bench coach John Gibbons, a former big league manager and catcher, said he doesn’t think you’re doing your job right if you don’t try to steal another team’s signs — and make your own signs complicated enough that another team can’t steal yours.
“I think that’s been a part of baseball forever,” Gibbons said. “I’m sure we do it. Everybody tries it. All you’re doing is looking for an advantage.”
John Gibbons? My goodness that sounds familiWAIT A MINUTE HE IS THE MANAGER OF THE TORONTO BLUE JAYS!! What do you MEAN “I’m sure we do it..” ??? Does that mean my beloved Royals ADMIT to stealing signs as well?
While we are on the subject of former Royals, Matt Stairs had this to say in the exact same article regarding the question of if stealing signs is “cheating”
“It’s not cheating, it’s just trying,” said Padres veteran Matt Stairs, who’s been in the Majors since 1992, long enough that he’s hit home runs for 11 different clubs. “If anybody thinks it isn’t going on, they’re living in a fantasy world. And with the technology that’s available today, with all the video, nobody should be fooled by it.
The point isn’t necessarily to say that stealing signs should be an accepted practice by teams and their fans. The point is to say that stealing signs happens, and if you aren’t able to deal with the consequences, you had best figure out a way to mitigate the problem. Late signal by the catcher, changing signals and multiple signs much like if a runner is on second base, being the most common cures.
The manager of the Toronto Blue Jays (though prior to his time) has pretty much come out and said “Yes. we steal signs…sure do…and you should to.”
So now what?
A heater into the side of Jose Bautista is going to do no more than make the problem worse when the following batter parks a known fastball into the 4th deck, so it appears the “traditional” way of solving problems is out the window.
There is no rule (aside from some grey area bland competition stuff MLB will never enforce anyway) that a team can use as a crutch. The best there is are the “unwritten rules of baseball” that basically seems to be out the window when looking at the history of stealing signs. It seems the crime isn’t in DOING the action….it’s in getting caught. Much like a hold in football, only without there being any sort of a penalty for holding.
Bottom line, if your team doesn’t like signs being stolen…..then stop them from being stolen. If Salvy makes 32 trips to the mound tonight to the moan of 50,000 Blue Jays fans then so be it. There is no excuse for letting John Gibbons and the Jays have that advantage on your team, they have plainly told you as much.
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