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: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 2:03 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Good point by Arencibia , if the Jays are stealing did Verlander pitch a no hitter against them? Like others have said, why would they be a .500, at times below .500 team at home if they were stealing signs?

Anyone else find it hilarious CBS Sports is quoting an ESPN article???? You don't see that everyday.

What a joke this is... The Yankees cry like little babies, now they get there friends in the media to write an article about it....we should just make owners of the Yankees & Red Sox the commissioners of baseball, what they say goes.

Since: Nov 3, 2006
Posted on: August 10, 2011 2:02 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

hahaaha Arencibia is quickly becoming one of my favourite Jays

Since: Nov 17, 2010
Posted on: August 10, 2011 2:01 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

The Jays are 28-27 at home and 30-30 on the road if we were stealing signs don't you think we would be better then a .500 team at home?Thi
This I can agree with.  However, the Blue Jays just don't have the pitching to go with the offensive numbers they pound out at home.

According to this logic.  I want to know why the Milwaukee Brewers are not mentioned?  (Maybe the Bud Selig and ESPN television contract? Just speculating.)  The Brewers are 41-15 at home and 25-35 on the road.  I don't have the offensive stats to spit out comparing their numbers at home and on the road, but I would be interested in knowing.

These teams are more worried about a guy in a white shirt in the outfield. I guess they didn't notice that every speed of every pitch is put on the jumbo tron so it shouldn't be that hard to tell when someone throws an off speed pitch.
Seriously?  Are you implying that the jumbo tron flashes the mph of each pitch before it is thrown?  I've never seen that before.

The real secret to this is not knowing the offspeed pitch, but knowing when the fastball is coming.  I've coached some ball in my day, and I've had LL teams to high school teams stealing signs from second base.  It's knowing when the fastball is coming that makes a difference.  The hitter gears up for it, and loves it!

Since: Nov 14, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 1:58 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

If they throw at Bombtista, I hope it's the Yankees when Morrow is pitching. Retaliation will not be pretty with that heater.

Since: Jul 14, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 1:35 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

The Jays are 28-27 at home and 30-30 on the road if we were stealing signs don't you think we would be better then a .500 team at home? The Jays hit more homeruns then anyone last year by far don't you think that does something to your numbers. This is just a joke and if they want to throw at Bombtistas head im pretty sure they will get one right up there A$$ as well. Stop bitching about a .500 team and worry about yourself. You don't think there is 20 camera's in the Rodgers Centre. Go back and watch some tape before you start bitching. These teams are more worried about a guy in a white shirt in the outfield. I guess they didn't notice that every speed of every pitch is put on the jumbo tron so it shouldn't be that hard to tell when someone throws an off speed pitch. Start bitching when the Jays actually win something.

Since: Nov 14, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 1:33 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

Love JP's quote about how absurd this is and appreciate his sense of humor. But he's right on, the guy is hitting close to .200 and yet he knows what pitches are being thrown to him? If that's the case, he should be sent to A-ball immediately. But it's not.

And the Jays aren't any better at home than they are on the road. None of it makes sense.

Even if it were true, who cares? They aren't going to spend what NY and Boston do, they haven't had a parade of confirmed 'Roid heads on their roster like the Yankees (that's cheating by the way) whatever the Jays need to do to even the playing field, so be it. Lord knows adding Jo Jo Reyes to the rotation for 23 games isn't going to do it.

Since: Apr 9, 2008
Posted on: August 10, 2011 1:25 pm

Blue Jays accused of stealing signs

This speculation is stupid. All teams try to 'steal signs', espescially when a runner is one second base. Anyways, it is not worth sending a person in the crowd out there with a job to relay pitches; becuase most players on the team will end up playing for other teams in the future and know and the Toronto Blue Jays. I have not heard any former Jays' players come out about this, it is pure speculation and probably incited by Canadian prejudicial views. 

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