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: Jul 14, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 5:54 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Joey Bats

Since: Jun 26, 2011
Posted on: August 10, 2011 5:48 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

The Jays must have a hell of an optomitrist on the payroll.

Since: Nov 25, 2006
Posted on: August 10, 2011 5:36 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Who cares? It's "Eyes on Baseball" it's what they're supposed to be doing, not really any original writing involved or an opinion column. It's basically a good way to see all the news in one spot. Besides, they are probably interns or "glorified bloggers" making these articles. He cares if it's a re-hash from ESPN or not.

Since: Apr 6, 2009
Posted on: August 10, 2011 5:25 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

 Everyone steals signs,do you think the Jays were stealing signs last night when they managed 6 hits  against Oakland.I think Girardi should worry more about his Yankee pitching staff than the Jays stealing signs.

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: August 10, 2011 5:20 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

I disagree with most of you.Even as a yankee fan 1) pitchers miss thier spots alot (see: any phil hughes start in 2011). 2) most hitters know when curve ball is coming or fastball out of the pitchers hand, by the spin on the ball. 3) even it u told someone pitch is coming, thye have at least 50% of missing it, 50% popping it up, ground out, fly out. ETC. Even as a yankees fan, i know common sense tell u, that YES, it is an advantage to DEFINITELY know the signs... but unless you show me SS Jason McDonaldor whatever is first name is,  hitting .350, please stop. I mean, Aaron hill is hittign llike .240. Arecebia .220, their rookie rf Synder, gets sent up/down/up down,etc.. bc hes hitting .200.

Since: Mar 16, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 4:49 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

This story is just a blatant re-has off of the entire ESPN report.  It adds zero new insights and absolutely no original reporting.  Evan Brunell can obviously copy and paste, but he should be ashamed of himself.

Since: Jan 6, 2007
Posted on: August 10, 2011 4:43 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Bender, they cry because they feel like they are the only ones that deserve an advantage lol

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: August 10, 2011 4:42 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

AA just destroys this story!!!  I like how one of the blog guys wondered where this quote came from about Bautista.  Bautista said he had a run in with a White Sox player but the blogger said if you looked at the stats from that game Bautista hadn't even started to belt them at that point so it doesn't make much sense unless you use revisionist history on the point.

I think the White Sox are just pissed that Toronto screwed them when they let Rios go to them for nothing. 

Since: Jan 6, 2007
Posted on: August 10, 2011 4:41 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

RTG, I was going to post the same thing. I want to go to the next Jays game when the Yanks are in town and sit in the seats in the outfield wearing all white, perhaps an outfit like the Green Guys at the Vancouver Canucks games. Maybe get 8 of us wearing the costume in the front row by the Bullpin each with a letter on their chest spelling  "YANK THIS"

Since: Oct 24, 2006
Posted on: August 10, 2011 4:36 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Teams with 250 million $ payrolls cry about cheating. Priceless.

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