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Were the Yankees cheating on Opening Day?

Apr 2, 2011, 5:28 PM EDT

Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees Getty Images

You may have seen Keith Olbermann tweet this picture of Brett Weber, who regularly charts velocity and pitch type from behind home plate for the Yankees, holding up four fingers towards the field during the season opener Thursday against the Tigers.

It seemed more weird than anything else at the time, but it turns out that MLB rules prohibit team employees from using hand signals to communicate pitch types or speeds to players. Who knew?

According to the Associated Press, Brian Cashman confirmed that Joe Garagiola Jr., the senior vice president of standards and on-field operations for MLB, spoke this morning with Yankees vice president and assistant general manager Jean Afterman about the issue. Cashman feels that he has a reasonable explanation for Weber’s actions.

“The scoreboard went down. He was relaying after the fact with his fingers to some hitters who wanted it what the velocity was, pitches to the opposing teams’ hitter, to the guy on deck,” Cashman said. “There’s nothing to hide. We’ve got nothing to hide.”

Furthermore, Cashman said that Weber wears headphones during home games so he can communicate with the scoreboard operator in order to relay pitch information that can be displayed in center field.

Oh, and if you’re calling the Yankees “cheaters,” Cashman has a message for you.

“It’s probably more work talking about than it’s worth,” Cashman said. “The psychotics that obsessed about it all day yesterday, I think we all did ‘em a favor by keeping them off the street and preventing them from hurting others.”

For what it’s worth, Weber is not behind home plate for today’s game against the Tigers. That means they’ll have to find some other way to win. You know, like rely on the $200 million worth of talent they have on the field.

  1. Brian Murphy - Apr 2, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    Well, it looked like they certainly knew what was coming from Brad Penny today.

    Maybe we should delve into this further. #sarcasm.

    • dfensfelix - Apr 2, 2011 at 7:11 PM

      Were you being #sarcastic? Was that #sarcasm you were using?

  2. jwbiii - Apr 2, 2011 at 6:02 PM

    As long as the scoreboard is down, and he’s relaying the information to both teams, I don’t see what the problem is.

  3. frankvzappa - Apr 2, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    the yankees are cheaters, and now every title they have ever won must come with an asterisk…

    • David Nutter - Apr 2, 2011 at 8:07 PM

      Oh please…grow up will you!

  4. mplsjoe - Apr 2, 2011 at 8:24 PM

    It’s either cheating (that is, against the rules), or it’s not. This was against the rule. Thus, cheating. It’s not so hard.

  5. iftheshoefits2 - Apr 2, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    Yes, because if I can sit at home and know the pitch speeds, it really is secret information. Never mind that, you know, the players still actually have to hit a moving object and all….

  6. seb18712188 - Apr 2, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    in this article it says the guy is behind the plate for every game….

    then all the sudden when they get called out for cheating the next day hes not behind the plate???

    so which is it .. hes always there and its normal?? or he was cheating got caught and wont be doing it any more???

    hmmmm… makes you wonder.

  7. wantanotherone - Apr 2, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    I just got a $829.99 iPad 3G 64GB for only $88.37 and my mom also grabbed a $1499.99 HDTV for only $251.92, they are both coming with FED-EX tomorrow. I would be an idiot to ever pay full retail prices at places like Walmart or bestbuy. I sold a 37″ HDTV to my boss for $600 that I only paid $78.24 for. I use SnagBids.com

  8. macjacmccoy - Apr 2, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    the cheating obsession in baseball is insane. Get over it. I mean how much of an advantage can a team really get by a guy holding up fingers. None of it is gonna help a guy hit a curveball better.

  9. southpaw2k - Apr 2, 2011 at 10:47 PM

    I can’t help but wonder if this story would even be bothered mentioning if it involved the Indians, Royals, or Pirates. Hell, even the Mets, for that matter. I doubt anyone would blink an eye if it were any team other than the Yankees (except maybe the Red Sox), much less report it.

  10. mplsjoe - Apr 2, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    If it’s as small a deal as most of you think it is, why were they doing it? Why did the Yankees tell this guy, “Hey, make sure our players know [whatever info he was conveying]?” And why does MLB have a rule specifically against it?

    Is it the end of the world? No. Is it cheating? Yes.

  11. gatorhater - Apr 2, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    Take it from a guy who has hit a few thousand pitches in my life…the on deck guy knowing the velocity of the pitch argument is total BS. They are major league hitters facing major league pitchers they know what the other guys are throwing a couple hours before game time.

    Getting that information in the on-deck circle ain’t gonna help it is about recognition and reaction. Imagine a car breaking though a banner, like a football team, 60 feet in front of you and guessing weather it was going 90 0r 95 mph.

    Something else was going on don’t know what but that argument doesn’t hold water.

  12. dirtyharry1971 - Apr 3, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    where is utley’s nutsack in all of this? cant’ believe he didnt add his 1/2 cents!! lol

  13. ukraineshaqfan - Apr 3, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    I remember a feature on ESPN a few years ago about how Jeter regularly got radar readings from a Yanks staffer in the stands, and how Arod had picked up the practice as well. I can’t find any reference to the story but I clearly remember it. Doesn’t seem a big deal to me.

  14. ukraineshaqfan - Apr 3, 2011 at 12:25 AM

    yeah, some of the comments on Olbermann’s blog post mention the ESPN bit and other articles about it.

    http://keitholbermann.mlblogs.com/2011/04/02/the-yankees-my-tweet-c-4-and-shamwow/

  15. Ari Collins - Apr 3, 2011 at 12:25 AM

    I’m unsure what advantage it gives the Yanks, but yeah, it is against the rules. So they should probably stop doing it.

  16. king3319 - Apr 3, 2011 at 12:29 AM

    Mplsjoe…I guess you must be the only person on earth who’s never broken a stupid rule..I didn’t realize Jesus had returned!!! Simple and easy…let’s just say this stupid rule actually has bearing on a game…the difference between a HR and a pop up is 1/8 of an inch..just because the previous pitch may have been a change up doesnt mean the next pitch will be off speed as well. The previous pitch velocity means jack sh&!. As a hitter it’s still a chess match as to try and predict what the pitcher is gonna toss next. But then again your that guy who takes the “don’t tear this tag off” on your mattress seriously…get reall dude!!!

    • eddyjf - Apr 3, 2011 at 7:05 AM

      King3319, How do we contact you? You can be the deciderer of what rules/laws we should follow and which ones we can ignore. A fortune consulting with baseball, football, …and the rest of us awaits you.

    • mplsjoe - Apr 3, 2011 at 9:29 AM

      King, just let me know some things:

      1. If it doesn’t matter, then why are they doing it?
      2. Who gets to decide which rules are “stupid” and thus don’t have to be followed? You? The teams? And on what basis? What if the Yankees think the rule is “stupid” and thus doesn’t have to be followed, but the Tigers think the rule is great and want it enforced? Who gets to decide?

      How about this: follow the rules.

  17. eddyjf - Apr 3, 2011 at 7:06 AM

    King3319, one other question. If it is of no benefit, why were they doing it?

  18. Kevin S. - Apr 3, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    I guess I’m confused – he was relaying information that would have otherwise been available if the Jumbotron radar gun had been working? If that’s against the rules, it strikes me as a rule that was in place decades ago and they never got around to taking it off the books once it became obsolete.

    • heynerdlinger - Apr 3, 2011 at 2:56 PM

      I’m going to go out on a limb here and infer that this guy was not giving the signs to the Tigers. This information may be normally available on the Jumbotron, but if only one team gets the information when it’s down, that’s not a fair distribution of information.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 3, 2011 at 7:50 PM

        Seems like the guy has a pretty standard job that all teams would assign to somebody sitting behind home plate. The Tigers’ counterpart could have done the same thing.

  19. baseballisboring - Apr 3, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    I have to say…I’m a Sawx fan, Yankee hater and all that…but I really love this new Brian Cashman. I don’t remember him being this outspoken before.

  20. king3319 - Apr 3, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    Ok..since you asked..playing college ball standing on second I routinely tried to steal signs so does every player who reaches a level where these strategies are coached and taught…I’ll be willing to bet you didn’t even know of this “rule” till you read this article. So to the point…even if I relayed the sign to my teammate it doesn’t mean he’s gonna be able to hit it..just like the velicity of the previous pitch doesn’t guarantee the hitter is gonna get the same..but then again since slot of played and know these things I don’t expect someone to comprehend when they live their life behind a computer screen with only dreams and analysis to try and prove a point without any experience on any competitive level except maybe Warcraft..these strategies have been around since long before you or I were born..but then again that would take research into the history of the game..too much work in between on-line gaming huh!!!

    • mplsjoe - Apr 3, 2011 at 7:00 PM

      Let’s see…that post has an off-topic personal anecdote; a claim that whatever the Yankees were doing wouldn’t have worked; and personal insults against me. What it doesn’t have are answers to the questions posed above. Maybe you forgot about them, so I’ll ask again (in brief; actual questions found above):

      1. If it doesn’t matter, then why were they doing it?
      2. Who gets to decide which rules are “stupid” and thus don’t have to be followed, and which rules are “not stupid” and have to be followed? And how is such a decision made?

      I’ll assume you don’t have good answers to those questions until proven otherwise.

  21. kmonet - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    27*

    * championships marred by on-field cheating, steroids, joke free agency, and having no salary cap while having the highest paid team by far EVERY year.

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