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Sign Stealing in Toronto, Logan Morrison, Umpires

August 16, 2011 Leave a comment

By: Aaron Booth

About a week ago, Amy K. Nelson of ESPN wrote an article exposing an elaborate sign stealing scheme the Blue Jays were using at the Rogers Centre. Assuming the report is true, the Blue Jays crossed one of many unwritten rules of the game. I’m not big on these unwritten rules, but as a long-time baseball fan I can’t deny that “everybody” knows that it’s unacceptable for teams to use sign stealing tactics outside the lines.

Also, assuming it’s true, it seems pretty wild that observer X could read the sign, relay it to white T-shirt guy, who can then send the signal to the batter, who will have enough time to see the sign and adjust accordingly, all in the time that elapses between the catcher giving the sign and the pitcher throwing the ball.  Seems like an awful lot to do in one second, but that’s okay. Let’s just assume that all of it is true and the Blue Jays are twice as good as a result. I have a suggestion for the other teams in baseball that don’t like sign stealing: use better signs.

I know this seems like a simplistic solution, but think about it: what is a sign in the first place? A sign is an attempt for players to communicate information they would prefer to be private, but they have to do it in a public setting. For those who don’t know the signs, the sign somewhere between an unknown mystery to completely unnoticed. For those who know the signs, it is the equivalent of shouting, “Hey, throw him fastball, in.”  If the guy who does not know the sign learns the sign, the other guy has to decide to either accept the fact that the signs are known or decide if it is important to maintain secrecy and change the sign. When I was a toddler, my parents would spell things to each other when they wanted to discuss a topic in my presence and still keep me from knowing what was going on. When I got older, they switched to Pig Latin. When I figured that out they left room. This is the same thing. If the opponent knows the sign, change the signs.

Obviously some teams have alternate sets of signs they use at different times, especially when there is a runner on second base. That’s great. The problem is that they go back to the standard signs the rest of the time. Why should there be such a thing as “standard signs?” Everybody in baseball knows what it means to “give ‘em the ol’ #1.” Ridiculous. If Joe Blow in the stands can accurately read the signs with a pair of binoculars the team deserves what they get.

On another note, the Florida Marlins have to be the absolute worst organization in MLB. I can’t think of another team where the owner and front office could possibly be more clueless. The recent release of Wes Helms in conjunction with the demotion of Logan Morrison is lunacy. Seth Everett of “Stayin’ Hot w/Seth & Bone” gave a fantastic rant about it on their 8/15 episode.

Two Quick Thoughts on Umpires:

1)      Does umpire Rob Drake have a background in pro wrestling? In the scuffle with Yadier Molina a little over a week ago, Drake flopped like an international soccer player when a little bit of spittle came out of Molina’s mouth. Does Molina spit acid or something?

2)      This is older, but remember umpire Joe West? Cowboy Joe West? In 2010 he got some attention for some quick ejections to Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buehrle and the stole headlines a few weeks later for criticizing the pace of a Yankees/Red Sox game. He’s also frequently near the top of the worst umpires list from annual player polls. Good umpires are supposed to be invisible. This guy is the opposite. He has a nickname! A nickname people know! In fact, he even has his own website: www.cowboyjoewest.com. Hilarious.

Aaron Booth lives in Monroe, LA with his wife a five children. He makes his living in the real estate world, which gives him the opportunity to listen to a lot of audio, including a fair amount of sports radio and podcasts. Aaron loves his i-devices and 24-hour sports media, but also fondly remembers the days when he calculated his fantasy standings from the newspaper. You can follow him on twitter @da_booth.

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