Skip to content

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

Aug 10, 2011, 10:41 AM EDT

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.”

///

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. halladaysbiceps - Aug 10, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    This kind of stuff comes up every year. Stealing signs has been done since the beginning of baseball. You still have to hit the ball, even if you know what’s coming.

    • bravesman1983 - Aug 10, 2011 at 10:54 AM

      Sign stealing is indeed part of the game, but I still feel like there are difference levels of acceptability. I think there’s a pretty big difference between sign-stealing from people actually involved in the action (players on base, maybe base coaches) and sign-stealing from a guy/multiple guys out in the stands who are not currently figuring into the gameplay in any way.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:00 AM

        I don’t disagree with you. But, I think sometimes it gets blown way out proportion. It would not suprise me that this has not gone on in other ballparks. They just haven’t been caught yet.

        There are a lot of really good pitchers in MLB, that, regardless of whether or not you know a fastball or offspeed pitch is thrown in a given situation, you are not hitting the ball. That’s pretty much my point.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 10, 2011 at 10:58 AM

      Russell Martin said it best: “It’s my job to stop them from stealing signs.”

      • b7p19 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:40 AM

        absolutely.

      • Glenn - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:26 PM

        Martin’s statement is assuming it is done within the game by an opposing player or coach, not someone in the stands or using a TV monitor.

      • phillysoulfan - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:48 PM

        Glen, Martin’s statement makes no assumptions at all. He flat out says, it’s his job to stop them from stealing signs. Doesn’t matter who is doing it.

  2. bravesman1983 - Aug 10, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    Definitely an interesting story. I hate relying on anonymous sources for the bulk of the story, however. ESPN doesn’t seem to share this opinion, however.

    • kopy - Aug 10, 2011 at 10:59 AM

      Exactly. It would be a lot more interesting if they provided some real evidence, instead of some anonymous relief pitchers claiming they got their panties in a wad over some guy. Use your real name, take a picture/video, do anything except spread rumors without evidence.

      • jtorrey13 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:34 PM

        After I read kopy’s comment, I realized this sounds a lot like UFO evidence. If it is so obvious and so prevalent as to create a big difference in the OPS numbers of players over the course of a season, it should be easy to document. Videotape/pictures of the man in white. Pictures from the bullpen, from the comp section, or from the dugout. If it is happening and it is RIGHT BEHIND THE PITCHER’S HEAD each time, well, it should be easy to document.

        Then again, the Yankees and Red Sox may not be able to afford digital cameras. If they could, it would probably just be a blurry image that was way off in the distance and indistinguishable.

  3. derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    Im not supporting stealing signs, but whatever player sent Bautista that message needs a suspension or at least a stern warning that crap like that is unacceptable. Throwing at a guys head is the most deplorable, cowardly thing a pitcher can do. Nothing the opposing team does justifies trying to seriously injure or kill a player. Shame on him, Weaver, Carrasco, and all the other classless punks who thinks its ok

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 10, 2011 at 10:57 AM

      Threatening to throw at someone’s head is not a big deal….actually DOING IT is. Unless that pitcher actually does it, then who cares what Bautista says some pitcher told him.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:19 AM

        a guy who threatens to do something so idiotic at least deserves a stern warning. even threatening to do it is serious. threatening to kill someone is generally taken seriously in society, and if you dont think intentionally throwing a 100mph fastball at a guys head borders on attempted murder theres something wrong with you. someone is gonna get seriously hurt or killed as a result of throwing at someones head one day so even threats about it should not be taken lightly

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:24 AM

        Again, if someone threatens to throw at someone’s head in a media interview or to MLB, then yeah, that substantiated threat deserves a fine and/or suspension. If Bautista is told this by an “unnamed player” then it is 100% absolutely completely meaningless unless that “unnamed player” actually follows through on the threat.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:30 AM

        again, how is a threat to attempt to seriously injure someone not a big deal? MLB should find out who this unnamed player is and tell him crap like that is not tolerated in the majors. like I said, if hes idiotic enough to make that threat hes idiotic enough to probably follow through on it. that being said, why should the league wait until he ACTUALLY tries to kill someone before saying anything? being proactive > being reactive

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:52 AM

        If the guy makes the threat where it can be PROVEN he said it…i.e. the Media or to MLB, then yes, fine him or suspend him. If the guy supposedly says it to Bautista, then it’s his word against Bautista’s and it is completely 100% meaningless. You seems to be wearing Jays-tinted glasses here when we are probably saying the same thing. You are just choosing to believe every word said in some report where most people were pussies and didn’t want to put their names out there while I will refrain from making judgments on things that are unproven, and really unprovable.

        So to repeat…IT IS NOT WRONG WHEN A PLAYER SAYS THAT AN “UNNAMED PLAYER” TOLD HIM HE WAS GOING TO HIT HIM IN THE HEAD.

        I hope the caps make it easier to understand.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        “Jays-tinted glasses” aside, what would Bautista have to gain by making that accusation? If you want to see brats like Weaver keep throwing at peoples heads thats your business. I wanna see the league do more to get that crap outta the game. If theyre using time and resources to investigate A-rods poker playing they can at least look into an accusation like this. before you reply maybe you should head over to your local batting cages and pull a Happy Gilmore so youre reminded what its like to get hit

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:00 PM

        OK, you are right. Whatever Jose Bautista say must be taken as Gospel. LOL. If Saint Jose said it, then it must be 100% true and MLB must do a thorough and full investigation into this unnamed player, who Jose Bautista refuses to name in the report, and make sure that Saint Jose isn’t thrown at because if Saint Jose gets injured, then baseball as we know it will cease to exist.

        If Saint Jose wants a player punished or if he fears for his head, then come out and say “so-and-so” told me he was going to hit me in the f___n head. Until then, I don’t believe a word of it or even if I did…SO WHAT??? What can MLB do to an unnamed player? Jesus Christ.

        Next up…another post telling me how bad it is to hit someone in the head and to go to a batting cage and do so to myself if I don’t think it is a bad thing. I guess some people just read what they want to read.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:05 PM

        good God youre a fucking idiot. hes playing by MLBs unwritten rules. if MLB asked him in private to show them the message and reveal who sent it thats all it would take. no evidence, nothing comes of it. but if there is that pitcher gets a stern warning and if he actually follows through on his threat he gets a severe suspension. your responses are getting more and more pathetic so Im done here

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:45 PM

        I think we might have an early nominee for obnoxious comment of the day.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:11 PM

        if you mean Chris’ last one I think we have the gold-medalist right now

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:13 PM

        No, I think calling somebody a f**king idiot qualifies as obnoxious and uncalled for.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:29 PM

        re-red all his comments and think about whether or not he is an idiot. I think me calling him one was warranted. just look at the incoherent “Saint Jose” garbage and tell me thats not obnoxious

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:38 PM

        Whether he is an idiot or not is irrelevant. Calling somebody an f’ing idiot is obnoxious and uncalled for.

      • spindervish - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:41 PM

        To be fair, dude’s “argument” is pretty idiotic.

        He moves from first stating pretty plainly that threatening to throw at someone’s head isn’t that big a deal to for some reason arguing that unless it can be proven that Bautista actually received such a threat that it might as well not have happened. Huh?

        Sure, it’s hearsay, and if you want to say you don’t really buy it without some sort of evidence and that there’s no way to punish anyone without some sort of documented proof, that’s fine…but how does that bear on an argument about whether the threat alone of violence is an actionable offense, which I believe is what the other guy was arguing?

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:42 PM

        obnoxious, ok. uncalled for? agree to disagree

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:42 PM

        Dude, you want MLB to investigate something that may have been said from one player to Jose Bautista when Bautista doesn’t name the pitcher? And you think that if Bautista is not going to break the “unwritten rules” in public he is going to do it in private? And then you want this player, who may or may not have even been a pitcher, to be reprimanded for something that Jose Bautista claims he said to him? And I’m the f***ing idiot? Again, take off the Jays-tinted glasses and listen to yourself for two frigging seconds here.

        Jose Bautista, as he wipes the tears from his eyes: “Player x said I was stealing signs and, “If you do it again, I’m going to hit you in the [f------] head.””

        MLB: “Who was the player?”

        Bautista: “Sniff, Sniff…I can’t say.”

        MLB: “OK, have a nice day.”

        Bautista: “Wait…OK, keep this private…it was [insert any player here]”

        MLB: “Thanks. We’ll look into it.”

        2 hours later

        MLB: “Hello [player Bautista named]. We have a claim that you threatened to hit another player in the head. Is this true?”

        [Player Bautista Named]: “Nothing could be further from the truth. Who told you this?”

        MLB: “That’s private. So you didn’t say that?”

        [Player Bautista Named]: “Of course not. I’d never do that.”

        MLB: “OK, thanks.”

        Obviously, nothing at all can be done here. It’s Saint Jose’s word against the [Player Bautista Named].

        However…

        Next time [Player Bautista Named] pitches against Bautista, he hits him right in the head. Now MLB has grounds to go after that guy for it being a purpose pitch.

        So you see, we have come full circle. I said just by saying it, there’s nothing baseball can do. However, by DOING IT, he gets into trouble.

        Of course, all of that only works if BAUTISTA TELLS MLB WHO IT WAS WHO SAID IT. UNTIL THEN, HE SHOULD JUST PLAY BASEBALL AND KEEP HIS UNSUBSTANTIATED ACCUSATIONS TO HIMSELF!!!

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:52 PM

        I’d advise you to stop embarrassing yourself but it’s just too funny

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:57 PM

        you break the unwritten rules by making public accusations through the media. Im not saying he should run to the league crying like a 5-year-old kid but now that they know a pitcher has made this accusation they could at least look into it. if anything it would let them keep a closer eye on the jerk. I dont get how you can say you cant act on a threat. uttering a death threat is a crime, and while Im not saying this is one but its the same idea. youre threatening to do something that could seriously injure a player. with the exception of you perhaps I dont think anyone wants to see that happen. of course you want to because for some reason you think thats the only punishable offence. why should MLB sit on their hands until someone gets there career ended by taking a fastball to the head? like i said, being proactive > being reactive. I guess thats not for everyone though…

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:04 PM

        The difference between you and me is that you automatically assume that Bautista is telling the truth and I do not. It is not a credible threat when it is Jose’s word against whoever he claims said it. Like I said a million times…if it is a threat that can be SUBSTANTIATED, then by all means, fine and/or suspend the guy. But if it just something that Jose Bautista CLAIMS was said, then there isn’t anything MLB can do.

        You choose to just believe Bautista because you are a Jays fan and that’s fine. But again…just because he says it happened doesn’t make it so.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:20 PM

        “if it is a threat that can be SUBSTANTIATED, then by all means, fine and/or suspend the guy”

        MLB can substantiate it by asking to see the message and who it was sent by (repeating myself I know, but I’ll do what it takes to make you understand simple logic a little kid could follow). if there is such a message then they can warn the player and keep an eye on him. if theres no message then nothing happens. its a much simpler concept than you seem to be making it. like I said, why would Jose say that? what can he possibly gain from it? Im not saying I believe him unquestionably but I also cant understand what purpose making that up would have. investigating this would be much easier than investigating A-rods poker playing and it would be worth the 10 seconds it would take them to do it. throwing intentionally at a guys head should not be part of the game. if MLB investigated this they would send the message that they take throwing at guys heads seriously, whether its a threat or the real deal its not going to be tolerated

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:27 PM

        “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.”

        To me, this sounds like more of a confrontation via conversation and not a concrete “text message”. If Bautista has proof via an actual text message, and shows it to MLB, then like I said the entire time, that would be a SUBSTANTIATED threat, right? That’s all I was saying the entire time. If it was a conversation, and that an unnamed pitcher told Bautista that he was going to hit him in the f***ing head, then there no proof and it is Jose’s word against the unnamed pitcher.

        So as I said from my third posting on the subject…”we are probably saying the same thing.” I agree that is the threat is SUBSTANTIATED that something should be done. If it is not, then nothing can be done, as you say in your last post “if theres[sic] no message then nothing happens.”

        Thank you for finally seeing understanding what I was saying and agreeing with me, as I wrote we were saying the same exact thing about 9 posts ago.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:32 PM

        this is the first time you said any of that, but if youre gonna finally shut up I guess I cant complain

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:37 PM

        Quotes from my posts…

        “if someone threatens to throw at someone’s head in a media interview or to MLB, then yeah, that substantiated threat deserves a fine and/or suspension.”

        “If the guy makes the threat where it can be PROVEN he said it…i.e. the Media or to MLB, then yes, fine him or suspend him. If the guy supposedly says it to Bautista, then it’s his word against Bautista’s and it is completely 100% meaningless. ”

        “Like I said a million times…if it is a threat that can be SUBSTANTIATED, then by all means, fine and/or suspend the guy.”

        And yet you write

        “this is the first time you said any of that”

        Who is the fucking idiot now?

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:45 PM

        you must love the Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense.” none of those quotes support what you just said. please go away now…idiot

    • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:51 PM

      “Threatening to throw at someone’s head is not a big deal….actually DOING IT is”

      now STFU

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 10, 2011 at 4:28 PM

        God you are a douchenozzle. That was the first posting I made. Then the next 10 read exactly as my last one…the one you agreed with. You are the biggest dolt on this board. It’s official. No go crawl back into that hole you came from and allow those of us with a clue to debate more important things…like the playoffs. Something you and your team won’t get a sniff of for the next 15 years unless they realign the American League.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 5:54 PM

        a “douchnozzle” am I? perhaps we need to take a look at what you sent to my wordpress account:

        “You are the biggest fucking moron I have ever debated with. Jesus Christ, the whole time I am saying that if it is Bautista’s word against whoever threatened him then it is not important. And then at the end, you finally say the same fucking thing? You stupid dolt. Why don’t you just go down on each Toronto Blue Jay one at a time and leave the sports debate to those of us who have a fucking clue you dumbass.”

        not only is it hilarious that you didnt want to post this here for fear it would make you look like a hypocrite, but the substance is worthy of a 12-year-olds temper tantrum on youtube. I realize I called you a effing idiot. I regret dropping the f-bomb on HBT but there is no question that not only are you an idiot, but a very hypocritical one

        obviously I took “sending a message” to mean an actual text message, as it is not uncommon for players to text each other. I said all MLB would need to do was physically see the message and not once did you correct me, you just continued posting incoherent nonsense. that being said, if this was an on-field incident you have to believe one of the umpires would have heard it. MLB could still verify the story if they wanted to check with the umps working the game in question

        and just so you know, the fact that Bautista was making the allegations has nothing to do with my position. its about intentionally throwing at guys heads, something that is beyond cowardly and just plain wrong. threatening to do it is the next worst thing. however, Bautista is a stand-up individual who would have nothing to gain but would have credibility to lose by making baseless accusations. thats why Im inclined to believe “Saint Jose”

  4. saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    Someone should take a look at the Brewers home/road splits. They have a ridiculous won/loss split at home as well, and teams are also putting down multiple signs with no one on base in Milwaukee.

    • kopy - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:04 AM

      Tony La Russa is on the case.

      • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:18 AM

        LaRussa is too busy trying to get teams to stop throwing up and in to Pujols.

        Anyway, I am just not sure why Toronto is getting singled out here when there are teams with much greater splits than what they have out there.

      • kopy - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:42 AM

        http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/08/02/tony-la-russa-thought-the-brewers-were-up-to-some-funny-business-last-night/

      • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:54 AM

        Well, I know he filed a complaint about some lighting issue, but we all know he is too busy pouring through match-up numbers and changing pitchers 6 times per game to investigate anything.

  5. proudlycanadian - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    How many former Blue Jays have confirmed this story? As far as I know, none of them has.. Think about it. The hitters are supposed to be able to pick up signs waived at them 400 feet away, while almost simultaneously concentrating on the pitcher and trying to see where the ball is actually going. This canard does not fly. It is the baseball version of an urban myth. On the other hand it sure messes with the minds of visiting teams.

    • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      Stick to curling, Canadian. If you don’t think signs can be stolen from the stands, then you are hopelessly naive to the game.

      • cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:34 AM

        Stick to deficits American, if you don’t think its simpler to get a sign from a guy less than 90 feet away, never mind 450 feet. Sure signs get stolen from the stands, but from behind the catcher is the obvious spot not way out there in center. I’m sure teams have tried it and I’m equally sure its much less complicated to have someone closer and on the field do it.

      • b7p19 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:45 AM

        Whoa, whats with the all the country bashing? I have no idea what the hell that has anything to do with this. Saints, you should probably go back to PFT where the favorite activity is trashing people using the same tired, thoughtless, and immature jokes over and over.

      • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:47 AM

        You think signs can be stolen from behind the catcher? Good for you. You are hopelessly naive, too.

      • cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:08 PM

        saints: read this genius,

        http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/06/26/yankees-kick-keith-olbermann-to-the-curb-on-old-timers-day/

      • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:18 PM

        Cur, read this genius:

        http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/04/02/were-the-yankees-cheating-on-opening-day/

        He was not stealing catcher’s signs – he was (allegedly) relaying pitch types and velocities, which is also illegal. Thanks for playing, though.

      • cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:34 PM

        Its the easy way of getting info on pitches, NOT from center field but from behind the catcher. You seem to be having trouble with the obvious, then when its pointed out, seem to be unable to grasp the simple related concepts around ‘stealing signs’ and the intuitive leap of ‘getting info’. So thank YOU for trying to play, but perhaps you ought to get out of your basement a bit more? Adjust your foil hat as you go of course. Buh-bye now.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        cur68,

        I have been enjoying this banter between you and saints97. Raise of hands: How many people are commenting from their mom’s basement right now?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:47 PM

        I haven’t bothered to read anybody comments, but I agree with whatever Cur says.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:49 PM

        Doctor, now that what I call faith. Faith in the good cur68.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:58 PM

        If it comes to the Blue Jays, I’m sure Cur has a better handle on the situation than I do.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:01 PM

        Agreed, Doctor. cur68 knows the Jays aka Beavermen better than anyone I’ve read on this site. We defer to him in all that is the Blue Jays.

    • IdahoMariner - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:00 PM

      tha’s actually what I was trying to figue out — how in the heck are they supposed to see some guy (out of many other people) in the stands 400 feet away give THEM a sign, when the PITCHER has such trouble seeing the catcher’s signs that they wear tape on their fingers? It’s crazy. In order for the guy to communicate to the hitter so they can see it, everyone — the UMP, the catcher, the guys in the dugout, the people sitting behind home plate — would know that’s what they are doing. Big old pile of BS.

      • IdahoMariner - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:03 PM

        it just occurred to me that there could be a guy out there, TRYING to give signs to the batters…but he’s probably just some sad, misguided fan thinking he’s helping his team. Because, seriousl, that’s a long way to spot a sign when you are trying to bat. it just wouldn’t be worth it.

      • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:06 PM

        It is very simple, and there are multiple ways to do it. The signal stealer wears a solid colored shirt, most of the time, so that he can easily be picked out. The guy does nothing if it is a fastball, and he has a list of several things he could do if it is an off speed pitch. Clap his hands, raise his arms, scratch his head – you can see all of that from the plate (just like the spectators can see the batter swing from out there). There is also usually something done if the guy can’t pick up the signals, so that the batter knows he has to go at it alone.

        Yes, it happens. No, it is not kosher. But the idea that it is not possible is just silly.

      • proudlycanadian - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:20 PM

        You should probably stick to aligator wrestling Saints fan. CF is a long way from home plate and hitters have to concentrate on the pitcher, not CF. There are several recent Blue Jay’s playing for other teams and none of them have said anything.

      • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:22 PM

        It is amazing that they can get people to sit in seats where you can’t even see the batter, right, proudcanuck?

      • proudlycanadian - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        Look Saints fan. You lost any credibility with Canadians when you told me to stick to curling. Curling is a fine sport and qite difficult to play well. HOWEVER, as cur68 and I have been telling you Americans, the favourite sport in Canada is BEAVER WRESTLING.

      • cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:47 PM

        We the world champs at that.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:28 PM

      thats pretty sad if the Jays are cheating cause they still suck doing it!! hahahahhaa cant wait for the jays to join the expos!!

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:35 PM

        Way to contribute to the discussion.

  6. rynev - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    I have no idea whether they are stealing signs or not, but citing home/road splits as evidence without any context is pointless. The average player on that list has a difference of .092 in the splits.

    I did the same thing for every Red Sox player with at least 180 at bats, and their average difference is .117, so they must be stealing signs even better than the Blue Jays (or most teams just have a home road split…).

    • mogogo1 - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:00 PM

      @rynev
      Exactly what I was thinking. When the article said they were “faring much better” at home I figured this might be interesting. Then I saw it was a miniscule difference and my first thought was “Wow, if they are cheating they’re doing a horrible job at it.”

      I know signs get stolen but relying on somebody in the outfield stands seems like a lousy way to do it. Not saying it’s impossible, but you’d want something that was as obvious as possible so your players could still concentrate on the at-bat…and anything obvious from that far away would be seen by the opponents, the umps, you name it. I’d be more inclined to believe it was just some random fan doing it on his own, thinking he was helping out than an organized effort by the team.

    • clydeserra - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:00 PM

      Actually its true of pretty much everybody. Generally players perform better at home.

      It has been studied. Its not remarkable.

      PS Bobby Thompson’s home run in 1951 was aided by pitch stealing from the outfield wall.

  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    So MLB investigates an ARod poker game (did any team complain about that?) but teams cheating THE ACTUAL GAME of baseball don’t come up on their radar?

  8. cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    How is this breaking news? The 3rd base coach or the runner has been relaying signs all season. It was pointed out months ago. Its nothing new as the team philosophy in the minors is to do exactly that. All teams do it and all teams make a point of defending against it.

    If signs are coming from the center field stands at Roger’s Center then that’s a LONG way away to get a sign from. Makes more sense its from the coach or a runner. With the rate Escobar gets on base, its most likely him or the coach not some guy 450 feet away.

  9. kellyb9 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    I think allegations like this need to go away. That being said – all games are televised with some delay. If you can either binocular in to the catcher from center field (or whatever seats you’re sitting in), and then signal the batter about the next pitch before its thrown, then you should be playing for the team because you are likely some kind of superhuman.

    • cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:35 AM

      Yup.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:13 PM

      If only there weer some way for human eyes to see greater distances…

      http://marlamurasko.com/blog/when-it-comes-to-your-business-i-am-always-looking-out-for-you/best-binoculars/

      • Utley's Hair - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:51 PM

        Those might be a tad big for the purposes of looking, putting them down and signaling all within a half a second or so.

      • Utley's Hair - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:54 PM

        Damn…premature post-ulation…or something.

        Add “without looking conspicuous” to the end there.

  10. b7p19 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    I could not possible care less about teams stealing signs.

    • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 11:52 AM

      And yet you still felt the need to read the article and make comments about it.

      • cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:11 PM

        So what? You still feel the need to read someone’s perfectly reasonable comment and be a dick about it. I’d take b7’s comment any day over yours, genius.

      • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:20 PM

        You keep thinking that you can see the catcher’s signals from behind home plate, Cur. You are a real asset to this blog.

      • b7p19 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:31 PM

        I wouldn’t say I felt the NEED to let my opinion on the matter known. Questioning whether or not it should matter is a valid first step in deciding whether anything should be done about it.

        If you can steal ‘em, then steal ‘em. Other teams will adjust and change signs.

    • kellyb9 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:10 PM

      I agree.. I care so little that I decided rather than posting my own comments about how much I don’t care, I’m simply going to reply to the comment that you posted about you not caring. I’m glad people now know how little we care. Thanks a ton B7!

      • b7p19 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:36 PM

        Um, Ok. Aparently everybody here really cares about sign stealing. Guess I’m in the minority, what do you know.

  11. cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    It kills me, really, the whole “it’s simple” argument with sign stealing from the center field stands. In practice, its FAR from simple. For the on field staff basic human biology, the ability to switch from far to near vision, gets in the way a little. Then spotting one guy from hundreds, even in a distinct shirt would be hard enough. Then the stealer not being noticed by the other fans, media and the other team with his binoculars and his odd behaviour. If Keith Oberman could do it then any one can spot someone doing that stuff. Then you are depending on him to even see the catcher’s sign while holding binoculars that are shaking. I’ve used binoculars from similar distances. Unless they are resting on something they shake to the point that you can’t focus on anything. Then he’s gotta be quick enough with the sign so that’s it’s of any value to the batter. The sign then has to be relayed in a non obvious way, like someone isn’t going to notice coaches staring out to center for no reason then signaling the hitter or another coach. The play by play guys would be all over that sort of thing. They notice tons of stuff that would go missed. Its not simple at all. Its the hard way of doing it and easily detected and proved.

  12. crusty14 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    Saints…… That’s quite the conspiracy theory you’ve got going on there ! You honestly believe that a batter is going to pick that one guy clapping in a red shirt from 459 feet away? If you think that’s naive to not thi k that, then you’re absolutely nuts!

    I’ve played the game at several levels for 30 years, and the only time I’ve come across any sign stealing was when there was someone on 2nd base…. Even then it was more about location than pitch selection! There is not enough time to scour the stands, look for your sign stealer, as well as watching the pitch come in.

    Let’s face it, if the jays were stealing signs, they are doing a terrible job of it or their record shoud be a lot better!

    • cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:41 PM

      Ahhh give old Saints a break. He aint too bright and he’s trying to come off as such. Poor devil is in over his head, you know?
      I agree with you by the way. What he describes is so ridiculously complex that you probably couldn’t get it to work even if it were legal and the guy in the stands was allowed to use semaphore flags. I’ve had 90mph pitches coming my way and the only thing I could cope with was trying to determine the grip on the ball an if the pitcher was going fast or slow. A quick glance at the coach or runner in the near distance was the best I could manage.

      • seattlej - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:00 PM

        I don’t want to jump into your little spat, and I won’t, but sign stealing has happened in elaborate ways for over a century. When done well, it seems that it can be effective. I don’t mean this as an insult, as it applies to me as well, but MLB level players have far better hand-eye coordination than you, me, crusty or saints. What you can do is in no way indicative of what Jose Bautista (for example) can do. To use your own experience as an example adds nothing. Same with Crusty’s experiences — I’m guessing that in all the levels he played, there was probably not enough on the line (tens of millions of dollars) for the people around the game to make the effort to steal the signs.

        Here’s a good article about it:

        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB980896446829227925.html

      • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:50 PM

        No, no, Seattlej, those old players are all lying. Cur and Crusty already told us that it is too complicated and you can’t see that far.

        Shocking that there is actually proof and the people who claimed it was unfeasible are nowhere to be found.

      • cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:58 PM

        Yeah, yeah saints, whatever. Look, adjust your foil hat a moment, OK? Have a look at that comment from Glenn (@12:40 PM) for me and tell me what you think. Are we crazy, man? Are we so gone in the head that we’re posting to ourselves? You gotta help me man! I might be having an out of basement experience here and I need to know: ARE YOU ME???!!!

      • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:05 PM

        Haha, well, we both do enjoy beaver wrestling. Neither of us believe the evidence is compelling against the Blue Jays for sign stealing. And we both probably like curling and drinking beer.

        I suppose it is possible. Here’s the clincher – how’d you enjoy the nachos we just had for lunch?

      • cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:14 PM

        GASP !!!! IT’S TRUE !!!! We did just have lunch! Only you are still wrong. We are on a diet remember? On account of our mid-life crisis? Remember? The new Audi, the waitress, her much cuter, much smarter roommate? You were there man! We promised to carve some of the lard off our ass, remember?

        Now stick with the plan, ok? We gotta stop eating carbs. We got to lose some love handles here, so no more nachos! Anyhow, you were wrong about the nachos; lunch was a virtuous chicken salad with a light vinaigrette. Tasty.

        Damn. Now I want nachos. Damn you saints97!

      • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:27 PM

        That life sounds pretty good, sans the dieting and the living in an extremely cold weather environment. Tell me more about the waitresses.

      • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 4:41 PM

        I still find it funny that Crusty and Cur both said it was too complex to be done, and then when someone posts an article talking all about how it was done in the 1950’s, they do not address it at all.

        Typical bunch of internet genius.

  13. Glenn - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    What’s really weird is that cur68 and saints97 are the same person.

    • cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:45 PM

      Wow. I mean, like . . . wow. Didn’t see that coming. So, um . . . ‘Glenn’ is it? How did you arrive that? Frankly, I’m less interested in what you have to say as what old saints97 has to say. However since he’s ‘me’ I suppose I know. Or something.

      • Glenn - Aug 10, 2011 at 9:09 PM

        It was meant to be amusing – to take the edge off what seemed like a bit of an overheated argument. What’s with people today fighting over nonsense on a baseball blog? Doesn’t it seem a little ridiculous?

  14. seattlej - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    Good post. But Matthew, as to your shot at ESPN, don’t you think it’s possible that they got the information from the same place that you did? They cited the fact that the original comment came from Jerry Remy. This is exactly what you did in your previous post. It’s completely possible that ESPN also got the info from Jerry Remy (or passed on to them by some other third party) rather than from reading your blog. It doesn’t really seem that this was “your” report, as you claim, but rather it was Jerrry Remy’s report that you happened to cite to and write a commentary on. You guys do good work here by taking information from other sources and spreading it to a larger audience. When you do, you provide us with a cite and generally also a link to the original work. Kudos on that, I really do mean it. However, that does not give you ownership over the reports that you write commentaries on and there are generally other ways of accessing the information that appears on this blog (such as the original source from which you culled that information). Just my thoughts since that kind of stood out to me.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      Anything is possible, but judging by the ESPN article, I think it’s pretty obvious they were going off our report. If they had contacted Remy, they would have said so.

      Regardless, it’s not something I’d want to make a big deal about. Like you said, it wasn’t really an exclusive for us; I had just built on something Remy threw out there. But no one else picked up on it from there. I was surprised it didn’t become something of a story afterwards (which is why I’m confident ESPN was just using our account; there weren’t any other accounts out there).

      But I just wanted to throw in that note there because I hate ESPN’s policies on such things. They don’t give credit unless they have to, and they hate linking to outside articles. I don’t blame the writers at all. It’s entirely possible one might have included the old “hat-tip to HBT” if given the option.

      • seattlej - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:19 PM

        Got it. Thanks for expounding on that, it certainly adds more context.

      • proudlycanadian - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:44 PM

        Hi Matthew I just read the ESPN story and based on what I read, I looked at the Jay’s schedule in late 2009 and the spring of 2010 and Bautista’s home runs. Based on my research, the 4 bull pen sources quoted were either from the Orioles or the Red Sox. There is a reference to a Bautista home run in a game in the spring of 2010 that was followed by a Bautista strike out. The 2 games that fit were an April 26 game against Boston and a May 28 game against Baltimore. I do not have enough data to know if in either game the strikeout occured before or after the home run.There is also a reference to the last series that this team had played in Toronto in 2009. The last series played by Boston in Toronto in 2009 was in July. The last series played in Toronto in 2009 by Baltimore was played in September. Thus it is most likely that the team with the paranoid bull pen was Baltimore. As Scutaro played for the Blue Jays in 2009, I would think that if the paranoid team was Boston, he would be quoted in any story.

      • cerveceros82 - Aug 10, 2011 at 4:18 PM

        I’ve got some time on my hands today, So i’m gonna go through and watch all the Jays at bats for the April 26 and May 28 games. I’ll let you know if anything interesting turns up!

      • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 10, 2011 at 4:28 PM

        Bautista said the accusor was a White Sox player. Waiting for a little more info and then I’m going to followup.

  15. phillysoulfan - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    Being a Phillies fan, this reminds me of Rockie-gate. When Mick Bullmeyer (our bullpen coach) was accused of stealing signs. Everyone who thought we were stealing signs said that the proof was the BA and OBP after the incident. What they neglected to realize is that the BA and OBP went down as we lost more and more of our Major League roster. Now, I don’t know the Blue Jays injury situation, nor do I have an explanation for the drastic home/road splits, all I am implying is that maybe, just maybe, there’s something else going on and that you shouldn’t take the word of people who just had their asses handed to them.

  16. dexterismyhero - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    I stole signs before. Hung one up in my bedroom at college. Big ol Stop Sign.

  17. HL - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    Really? A guy in the outfield stands in a white T-shirt? That’s funny.

    Don’t teams typically play better at home than on the road? I guess that’s almost universally true, except for teams like the Royals, Orioles, or Padres.

    • FC - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:44 PM

      Actually the Royals and Orioles DO play better at home, in that they suck less playing at home than on the road. The Padres… may be a victim of their own park…

  18. Mark - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    If the Jays are stealing signs, then they really don’t like Hill.

    The simple explanation is that Rogers Centre works better for RH power hitters, so it’s no surprise the 3 biggest differences in home/away are Yunel/Bautista/Encarnacion. All right handed hitters. Plus there’s the fact most players do better at home anyways.

    Seems like a non-story to me. Arencibia did have an amusing tweet about the Jays being no-hit at home, so if they’re stealing signs you’d think they might have done a better job vs Verlander.

    • cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:42 PM

      Well, sh!t. We agree, Mark? You & I actually agree on something? This isn’t a joke on your part is it? I mean I’m pretty gullible about somethings, like the ‘obvious easy way’ being the most likely, and that smart girls are sexy and so on. What you wrote there ^^^ is so obviously, easily, correct that it almost HAS to be true in my view. You messing with me man?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:59 PM

        Cur, I find your absence from this board recently very suspicious. I’m putting together some theories on you….Could the mysterious RC been under my nose the entire time?

      • cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:25 PM

        Yep. Look down, under your nose, and you’ll see most of him standing there. Probably has long sleeves on to keep his anti-authoritarian streak under cover :)

        Actually my absence has been because of writing up a chapter for my thesis & finalizing the sale of my house. Things are complicated recently because of a young lady I met not long back. I’ve been trying to explain, in long earnest detail, for the past week that I’m not interested in a long term relationship right now. I will certainly regret breaking up with her, but I can’t string her along in good conscience. I don’t know what’s better, the quick “it’s over” vs the long winded “it’s me not you” stuff. Girls sure cry a lot and I feel like a total jerk about it. Cuts into my HBT time A LOT.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:41 PM

        Now I am reading that you are having arguments with yourself while using two different handles. I am worried about you Cur my boy.

      • cur68 - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:58 PM

        AND I can’t stick to my diet either. Gotta go. She’s come over. Yikes!

      • Mark - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:52 PM

        World’s are colliding, George is getting upset!

        I guess you and I agreeing on this is a sign of just how bad the ESPN article really is.

  19. koufaxmitzvah - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    If I understand correctly, when the Red Sox and Yankees accuse a team of cheating, ESPN produces a 30 minute expose about it.

    Awesome.

    • b7p19 - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:41 PM

      Wait, the Expos were doing it too!? Maybe it IS a Canadian thing…

      Of course the Expos signs would likely be in French, so I doubt their players understood them anyway.

    • HL - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:27 PM

      I’m surprised ESPN isn’t dedicating the remainder of the month of August on the topic. Anything to keep the Yankees and Red Sox fans happy.

      That’s also the reason why I’ve removed ESPN from my channel lineup during baseball season. It’s not like I’m missing any baseball because they pretty much only display Yankees and/or Red Sox games. They really should just buy YES and NESN and rebrand as YENESN.

  20. franklapidus316 - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    Also lacking in context is that Rogers is a hitters park. How about home/road splits on Jays pitchers? Cecil has an ERA of 5.54 at home vs. 3.15 away, Morrow goes 5.95/2.97. Villenueva goes 4.97/3/70, Drabek went 6.75/4.75, Romero the only starter with any significant innings with any opposite split, and its a whopping .20 runs.

    Maybe every other team in the AL is stealing signs from Jays pitchers, I want an ESPN Special Report!

    • jtorrey13 - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:00 PM

      Nice point. Here are the Fangraphs Home and Away lists and to put a couple more along with the number of IP for each:

      http://www.fangraphs.com/winss.aspx?team=Blue%20Jays&pos=all&stats=pit&qual=0&type=0&season=2011&month=15&season1=2011

      http://www.fangraphs.com/winss.aspx?team=Blue%20Jays&pos=all&stats=pit&qual=0&type=0&season=2011&month=16&season1=2011

      Pitcher/Home IP/Home ERA/Away IP/Away ERA

      Romero / 73 / 2.84 / 86 / 3.03
      Villanueva / 41.2 / 4.97 / 56 / 3.70
      Cecil / 37.1 / 5.54 / 40 / 3.15
      Reyes / 54.2 / 5.93 / 55.1 / 4.88
      Morrow / 62 / 5.95 / 57.2 / 2.97
      Drabek / 34.2 / 6.75 / 38 / 4.74

      Probably not the biggest of samples, but just like the hitters, there is a definite trend between the home/road splits.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:13 PM

      It has played as a hitter’s park this year. Jays pitchers allow a .759 OPS at home, compared to .712 on the road. Last year, though, Jays pitchers allowed a .730 OPS at home, compared to .733 on the road.

      Meanwhile, Jays hitters had a .799 OPS at home and a .735 OPS on the road.

      • franklapidus316 - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:34 PM

        Thanks…..so it looks like Rogers explains maybe half the difference.

      • jtorrey13 - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:36 PM

        Good point and more data points. For 2010 and 2011, min 50 IP and let’s look at Home/Away FIP (as a better measure than ERA.)

        http://www.fangraphs.com/winss.aspx?team=Blue%20Jays&pos=all&stats=pit&qual=50&type=1&season=2011&month=15&season1=2010

        Pitcher / Home FIP / Away FIP

        Morrow / 2.61 / 3.58
        Romero / 3.34 / 4.06
        Frasor / 3.62 / 3.32
        Reyes / 3.94 / 5.29
        Camp / 4.01 / 4.19
        Cecil / 4.15 / 4.37
        Rzepczynski / 4.48 / 3.73

        Yeah, that doesn’t say the same thing as ERA in 2011. Interesting.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:46 PM

        Maybe the guy is giving signs to everybody. Possibly because he wants more offense. Or maybe because he doesn’t want to hunt through garbage cans for a foul ball.

        Or maybe he is a she. Or maybe he is dressed as a she. Or she is dressed as a he!

        Goodness. That’s a lot to throw in a 30 minute special news program produced for Red Sox and Yankee fans.

  21. jaysfan64 - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    Ha – this has been talked about since Bobby Cox managed the Jays….even in the World Series years it was a hot topic too (supposedly someone in one of the hotel rooms was relaying location to I believe it was Bob Bailor (first base coach at the time)…nothing was ever conclusively proven and over the course of almost 30 years no former player or coach has ever admitted guilt….is it possible? Yeah, it’s possible but no organization in their right minds would go that far…between the white lines, though – sure, it happens..it’s part of the game…

  22. ta192 - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Is sign stealing REALLY illegal, or is this another example of an unwritten rule?

  23. psousa1 - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    Just STFU with the sign stealing stories. It’s as old as baseball itself. Why wouldn’t you decode signs if you can? Only in the NFL are we supposed think sign stealing is an act of treason towards your country or as illicit as drug trafficking.

    Every year during the dog days of the baseball season we get this same story.

  24. crusty14 - Aug 10, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    Saints and seattleJ … Although I played fairly high levels of both hardball and fastpitch (which is a harder game by the way! Sorry baseball purists!) I am in no way saying I’m in the same calibre of MLB players. I was simply stating the fact that sign stealing from such a distance would probably distract the batter as much as it helps!

    When I played fast pitch , I had a guy on my team that always tried to give you hints while at bat. He had certain words he would yell to signify rises, drops, location etc. For me, all it did was confuse me and distract from the focus needed to hit an 80 mph pitch coming from 46 feet away! I found it easier to hit after I told him to shut the hell Up so I could concentrate !

    If you plated the game long enough and have some knowledge of the pitcher your facing, you probably have a good idea of what’s coming anyway…. As an old coach use to say. See the ball, hit the ball! It’s not that difficult!

    • saints97 - Aug 10, 2011 at 4:47 PM

      Crusty, you are on record here as saying it is too far and too complicated to relay signs in from CF. So what say you to the article posted above about the ’51 Giants doing that exact thing?

      To eliminate an excuse, here is the link:

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB980896446829227925.html

      Now that you know that it is not only possible, but has been done, do you think you might need to “update” your hypothesis?

  25. a125125125 - Aug 10, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    What’s more shocking?
    A) Sign stealing occurred
    B) Someone sit through every home game played by the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Orioles turn AL East on its head
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. G. Stanton (4168)
  2. R. Castillo (3061)
  3. A. Rizzo (2611)
  4. A. Pujols (2313)
  5. B. Belt (2311)
  1. J. Hamilton (2192)
  2. H. Ryu (2159)
  3. E. Gattis (2108)
  4. C. Young (2092)
  5. C. Davis (1971)