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ESPN goes in-depth on Blue Jays sign-stealing allegations

Aug 10, 2011, 10:41 AM EST

Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion Getty Images

Four players have confirmed to ESPN that they’ve witnessed Blue Jays hitters being relayed signs from the center-field stands at Rogers Centre.

An Outside The Lines reports details the allegations and an incident involving one of the players and Jose Bautista.  The report claims that a man in center field, situated perfectly behind the pitcher in a batter’s eyeline, was gesturing to indicate offspeed pitches for Toronto hitters.

The man caught the eyes of one team, and a player sent a message to Bautista following an at-bat in a game last season:

“We know what you’re doing,” he said. “If you do it again, I’m going to hit you in the [f------] head.”

Bautista acknowledged the confrontation, but he denied that the Jays have anything to do with sign-stealing.

“First of all, I don’t even know how you can do that,” Bautista said. “And second of all, it’s obviously something that’s not legal in the game. We do not cheat.”

But opposing teams certainly think they do.  The Yankees and Red Sox have both been throwing down multiple signs even with no one on base when they face the Jays at Rogers Centre.  ESPN even cites our report from a Red Sox game in June, though without feeling the need to give us any credit.  The Yankees’ Russell Martin said the Jays were stealing signs last month, though he believed it was baserunners responsible for the deed.

Once again this year, Blue Jays hitters are faring much better at home than on the road.  They’ve hit .261 with 71 homers in 55 games in Toronto, compared to .249 with 57 homers in 60 games elsewhere.

Here are the individual OPS splits for all of the Jays with 180 at-bats this season:

Jose Bautista: 1.155 home, 1.030 road
Yunel Escobar: .957 home, .699 road
Edwin Encarnacion: .921 home, .670 road
Adam Lind: .807 home, .755 road
Eric Thames: .794 home, .684 road
Rajai Davis: .735 home, .512 road
J.P. Arencibia: .697 home, .757 road
Travis Snider: .687 home, .561 road
Corey Patterson: .659 home, .671 road
Juan Rivera: .629 home, .702 road
Aaron Hill: .595 home, .587 road

Interestingly enough, two of the three players to actually perform better on the road were given away in trades last month.

The argument against the Jays’ stealing signs is that they aren’t actually winning at home.  They’re 28-27 at Rogers Centre this year and 30-30 on the road.  Last year, though, they went 46-35 at home, compared to 39-42 on the road.  Those 2010 Blue Jays hit .253 with 150 homers at home, compared to .243 with 107 homers on the road.

This story isn’t going away, so it’d be nice if MLB decided to take an interest at some point.  Contacted for ESPN’s story, a spokesman responded: “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.”

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Update: Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous will address the sign-stealing charges at 3:45 p.m. EDT this afternoon.

131 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. crusty14 - Aug 10, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    Saints….. Ididnt read that article, and I’m on an iPad, links don’t always work.

    I never said it was impossible, just improbable. If the jays were cheating this way, I’m sure there would be more than a couple of teams complaining about it.

    Also, if other teams were aware of it, I’m sure there would be a lot more plinking of jays batters!

  2. kdl21 - Aug 10, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    This sums it up nicely:

    “I think every one of our games is broadcast,” said Mr. Anthopoulos, his words spilling out, propelled by disbelief. “Why didn’t somebody go through the footage? Spend a year, spend your lifetime, go find the man in the white shirt. Maybe you’ll find somebody in a blue shirt, or a black shirt. Maybe you’ll see a dog. But spend the time. Do the work.”

    Surely, there HAS to be some footage of this mystery man in the white shirt. Why didn’t these complaining players tell their managers so the organization could try and get film of the man in the act, and why didn’t the teams of these complaining players ever file a complaint with the MLB?

  3. kdl21 - Aug 10, 2011 at 10:32 PM

    “ESPN Goes “In-Depth” on Blue Jays Sign Stealing Allegations”

    I don’t think they went in depth at all. I think they talked to some anonymous players and then went to baseball-reference.com for some stats.

  4. Chris Ross - Aug 11, 2011 at 3:37 AM

    I wasn’t surprised to see the allegations against the Blue Jays because there have been rumblings but I was surprised by the selective evidence searching of the article on ESPN. We all know that the media forms articles to conform to their views but this seems a bit over the top. I guess you can take the article any way you want but it looks as though there was a lot of evidence discounted by ESPN. I would like to see what comes of this because there clearly isn’t enough evidence right now to make any justified conclusions I don’t think.

    http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/espn-investigates-spydome-fair-or-foul/

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