Yankee fans woke up this morning angry and tired. Some of us are just angry because we’re tired, but others are angry for a variety of reasons. The Yankees lost, we blew a big opportunity, our offense disappeared and many other practical reasons to be angry. One reason that people are mad that is complete bullshit, though, is that the Astros cheated and stole signs. They probably stole signs, but they didn’t cheat in doing it like many people on Twitter are suspecting.
It’s not ironic that James Paxton, who had his fingers exposed and clearly showing Knuckle Curve here, had a rough time while Chad Green, who had his fingers hidden in his glove, couldn’t be figured it out.
In baseball there are two ways a team can steal signs. The first way, which is cheating, is by using technology to do it. In 1951, the New York Giants positioned a staff member in center field with a telescope and a buzzer that went to the dugout to signal pitches. The dugout would relay that info to the batter, and we got the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”. In 2017 the Boston Red Sox were investigated and fined for having a member of the staff pick up the catcher’s sequence when a runner was on second and information was relayed to the dugout via an Apple Watch. There have been many other times that teams have been reprimanded or just accused for using cameras and binoculars to pick up signs from the bullpen or outfield. Since 2001 this has all been illegal because MLB rules prohibit the use of electronic devices or the use of binoculars.
This is not what the Astros were doing in Game 2.
The second way a team can steal signs, which is not illegal, is to use their eyes and minds. This is what the Astros are doing by paying attention to every move the Yankees, or any team they face, makes. When they have a runner on second base, that guy is looking to pick up everything that Sanchez is putting down between his legs. To not do that and try to find an advantage would be moronic. Once the sign is delivered, that runner is now looking into the pitcher’s glove to try and pick up the grip. If he sees an obvious grip for a spike knuckle curve, why would he not try to relay that information to the batter?
This is what the Astros were doing in Game 2.
If you watch Alex Bregman, he is locked in at all times, trying to tell his teammates what he sees. It doesn’t matter if it is a tell by the pitcher or a signal from a coach. The Astros are playing the game within the game and it’s putting everyone on edge. Do Gary Sanchez and our pitchers have to tighten up with their signs and grips with runners on base? Yes. It would also help if James Paxton had thrown more than three first pitch strikes in the 12 batters he faced.
The Astros didn’t cheat, and they didn’t necessarily play better, but they are playing smarter and that is what could decide this series.