Blog Entry

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Posted on: August 10, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 5:18 pm

By Evan Brunell

The Toronto Blue Jays stand accused of stealing signs by utilizing a man dressed in a white shirt out in the bleachers, ESPN Magazine reports.

During a 2010 game early in the season, the White Sox's bullpen noticed a man dressed in white 25 yards to their right raising his hands every time there was an offspeed pitch. They examined his patterns and figured out he was trying to tip the batter off as to what pitch was coming, four sources from that bullpen revealed. While they couldn't figure out how the man was getting the information on the pitches, the correlation was too strong, which was backed up the next day when the players stood at home plate and on the mound to see how visible the man would have been to the batter. They found that without the batter even needing to move his head or change the direction of his eyesight, the man would clearly have been visible.

"It's premeditated," one of the AL players said, "as if the guy was a sniper trying to find the best position to make a shot."

When the bullpen noticed the man giving signs, they called into the dugout to warn the rest of the team. For the rest of the game, Chicago used multiple signs even with the bases empty and made their displeasure known to Jose Bautista the next inning.

"It's not too [f------] easy to hit home runs when you don't know what's coming!" the player yelled at Jose Bautista (pictured). The slugger, who hammered 54 home runs in 2010 after a previous career high of 16, confirmed the argument. "We know what you're doing," the anonymous player added. "If you do it again, I'm going to hit you in the [f------] head."

Bautista unsurprisingly denied any knowledge of stealing signs.

"First of all, I don't even know how you can do that," he said. "And second of all, it's obviously something that's not legal in the game. We do not cheat."

Catcher J.P. Arencibia also denied the reports, taking to Twitter to do so.

"Just read the dumbest article on ESPN about us getting signs?" he tweeted. "I'm hitting 200 and we get signs at home, that makes sense? #clowns." A followup tweet added, "Teams/pitchers need to accept when we kick their ass in the rogers centre n not give excuses... Looks like we had verlanders signs #nohitter."

More on Sign-stealing
However, the man in white departed his seat after the incident. That doesn't mean there's a link to stealing signs, but the evidence has been piling up against Toronto. Some players on that same team noticed the same man signaling during the last series of the season in Toronto back in 2009, so the team passed on doing anything about it. It's not the first, nor the last, time that teams have been suspicious of Toronto, though.

One of the players told Yankees' outfielder Curtis Granderson to be on the lookout for the man in white, but Granderson was unable to sight anything during a game where he served as DH and monitored the outfield while the Yankees were on the field. Still, New York started taking precautions by using multiple signs to signal for a pitch even when men are not on base. The Red Sox were also sighted using multiple signs during a June game earlier this season.

"Could be," manager Joe Girardi said when he was asked if the Blue Jays were stealing signs from outside the field. Obviously, if you feel like it's coming from somewhere else besides a player on the field, yeah, I do have issues with that."

Statistical information does bear out a possible unnatural advantage at Rogers Center, with Baseball Prospectus' Colin Wyers, showing statistical deviations that Wyers believes is too significant to be random chance.

Wyers compared performances by players in Toronto with that player's performance in all other parks, finding that Rogers Centre added .011 home runs to a player's production, making the stadium one of the top three percent of home-run parks since 1950. This is up from .002 from 2005 to 2009.

Oh, and only the Blue Jays benefited as their home run on contact rate was 5.4 percent at home, compared with four percent on the road and an AL average of 3.6. To be sure, some of these home runs were due to Bautista's breakout, a resurgent season from Vernon Wells, and more -- but another curious aspect is that many Toronto hitters in 2010 exhibited massive home/road splits -- including Bautista and Wells. Despite a poor on-base percentage of .312 (fifth-worst in baseball), Toronto was able to score the ninth-most runs in baseball with 755 on the backing of the highest isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) of a team since 1954. The flip side is that the Jays only batted .269 on balls in play, the lowest in baseball by far.

"Major League Baseball has never received a complaint from any club about sign stealing in Toronto, and this is first [we've been] made aware of it," a MLB spokesperson said.

The ESPN report by Amy Nelson and Peter Young is damning, but as is written:

By themselves, these numbers are circumstantial evidence. Unsupported by data, the four players' accounts might describe a scheme of uncertain impact. And without proper context, the Yankees' decision to mask their signs could be chalked up to paranoia. But together, the numbers, the stories and the actions indicate one certainty: Every pitch to a Blue Jay in Toronto is worth watching.
GM Alex Anthopoulous, who will speak about the topic in further detail at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday, denied any sign-stealing to the magazine. "That never happened, will never happen, not even a possibility," he said . "If it did happen, we'd be winning a lot more games at home … I think it's a nonstory because no one ever has picked up the phone and called me about it. It's never been an issue, and I would expect them to do so if it was."

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 5:52 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 10:38 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 8, 2011 12:58 am

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

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Since: Aug 10, 2011
Posted on: August 11, 2011 4:27 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

They are stealing signs. Why else would a guy put his arms up? I mean he couldn't be streching only on offspeed pitchs. Or buying food. Plus the stats prove it. Everyone is better at home. The Blue Jays are doing 2 percent better than other teams even the Yankees.  

Since: Jan 29, 2007
Posted on: August 11, 2011 2:33 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Why wouldn't they ask guys like John Buck, Vernon Wells, or Alex Rios? All these guys played for the jays and if the BJ's were cheating would these players not know what was going on and want to blow the whistle. I think this claim is a bit far fetched. I don't think the Jay's were cheating. I think ESPN needs to do a better job with their journalism.

Since: Dec 10, 2007
Posted on: August 11, 2011 1:58 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

I just took the time to read this whole thread to see how ridiculous some of the comments could be.  As long as one does not take it too seriously, it is quite amusing.

To begin with, yes it may be possible to relay the sign to the batter while sitting in the outfield without possessing bionic eyes.  Every game that is televised shows the signs that the catcher signals to the pitcher.  All it would take is to have someone watching TV get the sign and pass it by radio to someone situated in the right location.  He then could make a visible signal to the batter letting the batter know when it is a fastball that is coming.  In this way, it is possible.  But I would not want to be the batter standing in the batter's box with the pitcher going into his windup while I am looking for the signal from the outfield.  I'd rather be looking for the ball in case it is coming at my head or to see if it is a hittable pitch.  And before someone who rarely watches baseball suggests that the signal can be passed before getting in the batter's box, I suggest you watch a game to see if that could be possible.

Secondly, I agree that if the BJs were actually stealing signs at home, their record at home should be much better than the one on the road.  Even without stealing signs, this should be the case as it is for most teams.  When you are .500 both on the road and at home, this accusation of sign stealing does not make sense.

As for the stats guy, comparing stats of a team from 2005 to 2009 against the 2010-2011 team, it is comparing apples and oranges.  Most of the current BJs were not part of the team back in 2005-2009.  This comparison would be like comparing the Yankees of the fifties to the Yankees of the 70s and 80s. 

And lastly, Bizona probably thinks Big Pappi was never on steroids; after all, it is the aura of being with Boston that caused him to become such a great home run hitter compared to his days in Minnesota (the massive bulk he put on from the time he got to Boston to last year when drug testing was more frequent was only natural weight gain).

Hope I did not miss any spelling errors or else someone will criticize me for it.

Since: Apr 25, 2008
Posted on: August 11, 2011 12:31 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

alex rodriguez  -  32 million
cc sabathia  -  24 million
mark texiera  -  23 million
a.j. burnett - 16 million

total  -  95 million

so nearly 50% of the payroll is spent on 4 guys, who are not "your own", but rather players who were bought on the open market.  you call that "loyalty to their own"?  it's called trying to buy championships

if you honestly think that baseball has the most parity of any sport, then you are, WITHOUT DOUBT, the most uneducated sports fan of all time.  get a clue.  for the last 2 decades, with very few exceptions, baseball has had the same 6-7 teams be dominant year after year after year.  there is ZERO parity in baseball, that's why you have teams who haven't made the post season in DECADES

Next time someone offers you a job making more money then you currently are, make sure you tell them no you can't leave your current job because that would be unfair to your current employers because he/she can't afford to match the money.  Exactly sugar pie that’s what I thought!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Other wise then you are nothing more then a standard issue "everyone else takes less money and is fair and nice and share, except for me".   
;Cap your own money before you spew off BS about other people being capped on the money they can make.  Who the f are you to tell anyone else what they can make anyway?  

how many dif teams have won/played a world series over the last 10 years?  9 dif teams won and 16 dif teams have played in the World Series.  How many dif teams have won/played a super bowl over the last 10 years?  7 dif teams won super bowls and 14 dif teams played in them.  Seems like Baseball has more teams play in and win the world series then Football has with the Super Bowl.... Plenty of football teams haven’t made the playoffs in decades as well moron but i'm sure you just ignore teams like the Lions because then your argument falls apart 

Your argument is fail and until you cap your own pay then you’re a hypocrite for wanting others to do so. 


Since: Jan 2, 2009
Posted on: August 11, 2011 9:04 am

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

This is a riduculous article and claim.  They should have done some research, the article writer does know that every Jays game is on TV?  Go back and look over the game films, see what you can find.  Just complete grade 1 researching skills in this article, was there a deadline to be met/  All the writer could come up with, just trash.

Since: Apr 5, 2007
Posted on: August 11, 2011 8:16 am

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

I wonder what the man told Lawrie when he hit a grand slam last night? He must have been in the Dominican when Brett hit 5 homers in a double header.

Butch Carter had it right when he said there is a conspiracy to keep Toronto teams down. People are looking for anything to pin on Bautista since they cant use steroids.

Shame on ESPN for making this such a "Big Story" without any hard evidence. Just a bunch of whiney ball players that dont like losing.

Since: Apr 8, 2010
Posted on: August 11, 2011 2:41 am

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

What I want to know is: is there any hard concrete evidence i.e. video, of the man in the white shirt?

My other question is, why aren't these so called "unnamed" players coming forward and speaking their concern?  Why make an accusation if you don't have the balls to back it up (Jon Danks)

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