Here We Go Again with the ‘Blue Jays Stealing Signs’ Thing
Over his nine-year career, Chris Sale has feasted upon the Toronto Blue Jays. In 11 starts, Sale owns a sparkling 2.30 ERA with 99 strikeouts and Blue Jays hitters have a career OPS of .605.
Whenever Blue Jays fans have a ticket to see their team face the Red Sox and Sale is slated to start, the consensus reaction is “damn it”. The left-handed ace of the Red Sox performs like a Cy Young candidate whenever he faces the Blue Jays.
Alarms sounded off when Sale got touched up for three runs during his start on Friday night. Heaven forbid he ever give up a few earned runs to the Blue Jays, but this caused some to believe there were external forces at work helping the Blue Jays.
Apparently, it’s 2011 because here we go again with the whole “Blue Jays stealing signs” thing. During the NESN broadcast on Friday night, Jerry Remy accused the Blue Jays of stealing signs off Sale.
We saw this last time we were here. They felt like the Blue Jays were getting signs somehow. So they go to a multiple set of signs with a man on first base, not second base. They’ve been on everything that Sale’s thrown.
When you see a guy like Sale get hit hard, you start to wonder, “are they seeing something”.
Here’s a thought; maybe Chris Sale occasionally isn’t invincible on the mound? Most times he faces the Blue Jays it’s basically a guaranteed win, but yes, even aces have bad starts from time to time.
The logic Remy tabled was that the Blue Jays were hitting everything from sale until Red Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie made a mound visit in the second inning. Sandy Leon then switched over to a second set of signs.
Prior to that mound visit, four of the first eight Blue Jays collected hits off Sale. Following that mound visit, Sale coasted the rest of the game, striking out 13 of next 25 batters and giving up only two hits the rest of the way.
I won’t deny there’s a possibility the Blue Jays knew what was coming from Sale during those first few innings, but that my friends is what we call an “edge” in baseball. If your signs can be stolen, the onus is on the catcher to change things up.
Remy then doubled down on his sign stealing comments during yesterday’s Red Sox broadcast:
There’s no question in my mind that they were picking something up from the signs and when they switched the signs, it was Chris Sale all over again. That’s been going on up here for years and it hasn’t stopped.
Why is this still a thing? Why are we still pretending like there’s a “man in white” relaying signs from the stands at the Rogers Centre? Are we forgetting this is the same organization that got busted for relaying signs through an Apple Watch last year? Pot, meet kettle.
“Stealing signs” is a bit of a misnomer. It insinuates a team is cheating when in fact it isn’t even illegal to pick up on another team’s signs. That’s gamesmanship; so long as any external sources like Apple Watches or people in the stands aren’t involved.
Renny isn’t the only Red Sox broadcaster to bring this thing up recently; A.J. Pierzynski also dredged up the “man in white” accusations during the Red Sox-Astros playoff series last year.
Why not keep it going? The Boston Herald did a piece with quotes on the apparent sign stealing at the Rogers Centre, quoting former Kansas City Royal: Edinson Volquez.
Weird things like in 2015, when Kansas City Royals pitcher Johnny Cueto gave up eight runs to the Blue Jays in Game 3 of the ALCS and teammate Edinson Volquez believed the Jays had been stealing signs, something he said happens more at the Rogers Centre than at any other park.
“That’s what I hear,” he said, according to the Toronto SportsNet. “Most of the teams come here – we’ve got a lot of friends on different teams – they always say that.”
At this point, the “man in white” myth is an urban legend. It’s been talked about for nearly a decade and yet there’s no shred of concrete evidence that sign stealing is rampant at the Rogers Centre.
If MLB was going to punish the Blue Jays for using external sources to steal signs, they would’ve done it already. Yet this narrative lingers with the Blue Jays whenever they knock around a starting pitcher who is typically dominant.
If the Toronto Blue Jays are truly stealing signs, it didn’t help them one iota last year. They went 2-8 versus the Red Sox at home during the 2017 season and 4-5 at the Rogers Centre during the 2016 season.
Evidently, this is something that’s going to follow the Blue Jays until the alleged “man in white” finally shows up. Until then, the Blue Jays just can’t escape this moniker of being a sign-stealing club.