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: Aug 10, 2011
Posted on: August 10, 2011 4:36 pm

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Since: Nov 3, 2006
Posted on: August 10, 2011 4:30 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Oh good we have a math teacher on here. How does the saying go? "Those who can't, teach". Thanks for your professional opinion.

Can't wait to show up at the next Jays vs. Yanks game dressed in all white and sit in centerfield with my binoculars.

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: August 10, 2011 4:26 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs


rediculous - no dictionary results

Ironic? Indeed.

Grammar cop!!! What would a thread be without a Grammar cop clown typing away in his basement?

I didn't even make the mistake, but we have to, as a community, weed out these louts of society and make fun of them until they stop!

Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:54 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Okay, as a Math teacher, I have to say that those statistics will mean nothing to the general population who are not adept at statistical analysis.  Let me see if I can put those in lamen's terms for everyone because the statistics make it seem likely Toronto was doing something fishy...

First Statistic: 
" 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."

Lamen's Terms:
Adding .011 home runs to a person sounds like nothing.  But the comparison is the key statistic.  In the 05, 06, 07, 08, and 09 season, a span of 5 years, the Toronto players home run's only increased by .002 at home compared to on the road.  This increase is what accounts for Toronto being a friendly hitter's park.  If you divide .011 by .002 you get a quotient of over 5, meaning after five seasons where Toronto hitters hit slightly more home runs at home than on the road, their home run totals at home vs. road increased by more than a factor of 5.  It went from a small difference to a huge one.  An increase of 500% out of the blue in statistics world is almost impossible.  If you found the average increase over a span of 5 years, 10 years, whatever, the standard deviation would have been miniscule, probably 0.002.  So to jump 0.09 has a chance of about 1 in a billion.

Since: Feb 8, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:52 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

They should put someone in one of the hotel rooms, then they won't get caught :)

Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:46 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

We have to cheat to even the playing field.As long as there's no salary cap in Baseball it's not a real sport.Give everybody a hard 130mill cap and let there be a level playing field.Having a payroll thats 3-4 times what the smaller markets spend is unfair, so if we could and I know where not I'd cheat too.I'd rather watch paint dry than baseball, until it's a real sport.

Since: Sep 10, 2007
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:44 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

I love the Blue Jays and allways will but ....How bout this for a good laugh.The Jays Manager came from BOSTON were cheater hooded Bill might have taken him out for a few drinks and shown him the cheatting ropes NAH just having fun with it.But hey New England hasnt won a Super Bowl since being caught. In fact you can count on one hand the amount of playoff wins,since being caught.I could see this being worth writting if the Jays were in the hunt but there NOT even close!

Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:22 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

By the way, pointing out I need to learn how to spell when nothing there is misspelled is so ironic


rediculous - no dictionary results

Ironic? Indeed.

Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:18 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

This accusation is absolutely "crazy" bizona.  You would have to be a sucker to buy this joke of an article

Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:17 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Bizona, I have not cursed to make my point.  Now, if someone is not using common sense, by all means I will point it out.  By the way, pointing out I need to learn how to spell when nothing there is misspelled is so ironic

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