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."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Since: Jul 12, 2009
Posted on: August 10, 2011 7:17 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

This just in!!!
Man stand up at a game and the home team happened to win it.
Guy at a golf match told the ball to "get in the hole" and it did.
Man at boxing event tells fighter to punch him out and he wins by KO.
Whole crowd at football game yells blitz and o-line responds accordingly.

This is nonsese. You still have to see, swing and hit the ball accordingly. There is a huge work shortage in the world and companies are paying fools like this to be employed. What a chisler.

Since: Sep 22, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 7:17 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Maybe this mysterious white-shirted man has one arm and killed Dr Kimbel's wife.

Since: Sep 18, 2006
Posted on: August 10, 2011 7:05 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Oh my God!!!  It's spy gate all over again!! Take away their division titles, take away their world series championship and draft picks(wait....).  I think Farrell should be suspended for the rest of the season and all of next season and the Jays should have fo forfeit all of their games.
  Who cares!!!  If you don't want your signs stolen then do a better job of hiding them.  Besides, if they are stealing signs it wouldn't be hard to figure out who the suspect is, just look at the guy sitting in the center field bleachers!!

Since: Jul 29, 2011
Posted on: August 10, 2011 7:05 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

I'm sorry it was me . . .  the white man in white.  My Tourette's was acting up!  The BlueJays weren't stealing signs it's just that The Yankees Suck!  Wait, I'm scratching my sack - - - it's a wild pitch.

Since: Feb 3, 2009
Posted on: August 10, 2011 6:44 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

baseball has the most parity of all the sports. check it. the hard cap is circumvented if every sport. cheating is stupid. so are those who argue that baseball is lopsided because of money spent. the fact that the Yankees overpay their own players isn't causing an unfair advantage. they are paying extra for the people their own fans want to see in their uniform. jeter, rivera and posada wouldn't get near that amount on the open market. the yanks payroll is inflated due to loyalty to their own and it certainly doesnt mean they win every year.
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

Since: May 23, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 6:20 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

BTW, with the big blacked out area in CF would the Jays have had to put a man in either side for the batters to see? You can't tell me both the lefty and righty hitters can see the same guy in one side of the blacked out area without changing their look. And since the article sites players on both sides of the plate this seems to be what they are insinuating. Prtty hilarious really.

Since: Oct 13, 2006
Posted on: August 10, 2011 6:17 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Yea, I been trying to figure out what the big deal with stealing signs is anyway. If you are dumb enough to create a sign system that someone can steal, then someone should steal them. Heck if its that big of deal put a blue tooth in the pitcher and catchers ear and let them talk the lingo.

Since: May 23, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 6:11 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

This article is such a joke. That early season dust up with Jose Bautista? You mean the series that was 7 games into the 2010 season? The series were Bautista hadn't even hit a homer yet that season? That's some funny stuff!! Jose Bautista hit 4 homers in all of April in 2010.

BTW, the backdrop in Rogers Centre like ALL stadiums is blacked out in the stands behind the pitcher. The hitters' backdrop. That's right, there is NO seats there. So yes, the batters would have to change where they look to see a guy in CF.

Next, do you realize how ridiculous the time frame they are suggesting is? How does the guy get these signs? He didn't have binoculars. He would have had to get the sign relayed to him from someone else (using a bluetooth?) and then him relaying the sign to the plate? In less than a millisecond?

Next, where are the interviews with guys from the clubhouse. Not even disgruntled ex-players, what about clubhouse guys? Anyone?

Next, there are cameras EVERYWHERE these days. Where is even a still photograph of someone?

Nothing. There is ZERO evidence of ANYTHING and ESPN runs with this. What a joke! It's of the reasons ESPN is definitely NOT in my rotation of sites I read. Sports TMZ at it's finest.

BTW, the Yankees and Rangers both had a higher rate of homers hit in their home ballparks last season.

Since: May 14, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 6:05 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Girardi just said if this is coming from the stands then he would have an issue with it. I hate the yanks as much as anyone else but this isn't them. Its the White Sox and if there were any men in Chicago with spines they would stand up and name names. If they are unable to prove this then either the players or the team should be fined seriously. Also if ESPN can't prove this they should be cut off from baseball, including highlights.

Since: Mar 29, 2011
Posted on: August 10, 2011 5:58 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

as long as they are not taping it who cares and anyone good in baseball would change those signs daily. i would be doing it also. try to watch a catcher do this its mind boggling.

Money mouth

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or