Baltimore Orioles fans want to believe that their guys don’t steal signs. And in fact, the Orioles have rarely been mentioned as a team that engages in that sort of thing. This as opposed to other teams such as the ChiSox, who used lights on the scoreboard to relay signs to hitters. Or the famed “man in white” in Toronto who would supposedly tip pitches.
Last night via twitter, former MLB pitcher Seth McClung delved into sign stealing while watching the ALDS between Tampa and Houston:
For the record, if in fact a camera was in use to steal signs, that’s blatantly against MLB rules. We have no way of knowing if signs were truly being stolen or not. However as a former big league pitcher, McClung’s in a position to know what he’s talking about.
Unfortunately I think there’s more sign stealing that goes on in baseball than what people want to believe. It is against the unwritten codes of the game, but we’re kidding ourselves if we think it doesn’t go on. And in every major league game, on both sides.
I’ll take it a step further; I would bet guys are even trying to steal signs in spring training. You play like you practice. If you can steal signs in spring games you aren’t doing it because you so direly want to win that game. You’re doing it so that when and if you face that team in the regular season you know what to look for.
I’d like to believe that if I were a big league player or coach I wouldn’t do that. However I’d also suggest that there’s a vast difference between a runner at second tipping off the hitter on pitches, and what McClung is alleging above. Using a foreign device to tip pitches is particularly wrong. However in today’s world if you get away with it that means it didn’t happen.