Monday, August 15, 2011

Blue Jays Stealing Signs?

It has been alleged in the baseball world that the Toronto Blue Jays have been stealing the other team's signs at home games, sparking outrage by some writers at ESPN as though some horrific crime has been committed against humanity. How do they know (errr, suspect) this happens? Opposing pitchers in the other team's bullpen at Sky Dome have confidentially reported suspicious behaviour by some of the stadium staff, and a few Blue Jay players produce better offensive numbers at home than on the road (which is true of any number of professional athletes). There is no actual hard evidence that the Jays are "cheating", just circumstantial speculation. As the story goes, someone sits in the center field bleachers over 400 feet from home plate, reads the signs, and signals to the player what pitch is coming.

This all leads to the greater question, who the fuck cares? If the Jays are hiding high tech video surveillance equipment to acquire and relay this information, then absolutely that should be punished by the league. But if it is a matter of low tech gamesmanship, then it shouldn't be a big deal at all. I played little league baseball for years and every game we were constantly trying to crack the other teams signs. Baserunners on 2nd base, hitters at the plate, and players on the bench would all try to decode what the other team was going to do next. It was part of the game, and with all the time you spend sitting around in baseball, you need something to talk about!

To opposing teams, it is easy to mix up your signs and make them tough enough to decipher that by the time the Jays figure it out, you've mixed it up again. Of course not all pitchers are equally intelligent, I'm sure many are not smart enough to figure out a complex system of sign language. Maybe what you need to do to keep your intentions secret is to text message your players instead of signalling them from the dugout. Quarterbacks in football have headsets in their helmets to get information from the booth upstairs. Frankly there is no reason to be outraged at gamesmanship (certainly without evidence of any rule violation), and those who are treating it on a comparable level to steroids need to sit down and shut up.

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