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Baseball question - stealing signs

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by LarryDavenport, Jun 5, 2003.

  1. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport Cinematographer

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    With all the talk of corked bats and steroid use in the MLB I have heard many discussions about what is the worst form of cheating in baseball; corked bats, doctored balls, drugs, or stealing signs. I never thought stealing signs was illegal. Can anybody who knows MLB rules tell me where it is written that stealing signs is against the rules?
     
  2. Christopher P

    Christopher P Supporting Actor

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    I don't think it is against any written rules, Larry, just one of those "unwritten" rules that baseball seems to pride itself so much on. I thought it was odd that the guy (can't remember who now) who got his hair cut in the club house a few weeks back, and was chastised for it, because apparently that goes against one of these unwritten rules.

    Chris
     
  3. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    While I can’t quote the rulebook in its entirety, I am reasonably sure that there is no rule against stealing signs. In fact it is assumed by everyone that the other team will try to steal signs.

    The classic example is that the universal sign for a fastball is one finger. So when a runner gets on second he can pick up the sign from the catcher and relay to the batter (perhaps via the third base coach) what the next pitch will be. As everyone knows that this will happen, all teams have an alternate set of signs when that they use when there is a runner on second. Who may still try to steal the (more difficult signs). And if the opposition is successful, or it is just believed that they have been successful, yet another set of alternate signs will be trotted out.

    Usually a coach or two (and perhaps a senior player) will try to steal the signs from the third base coach. And they are sometimes successful. A good indication of success is when a pitchout is called when the runners are off and running.

    I’m not sure if there are any specific rules against using technology (such as the outfield camera) to steal signs, but there may be.
     
  4. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport Cinematographer

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    Thanks. I think it was Mo Vaughn who got the haircut.
     
  5. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Screenwriter

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    Yeah, I think it is one of those unwritten rules that you are not supposed to do but almost everyone does it.

    A few weeks ago Bobby V and Harold Reynolds were talking about that and showing the signs players use to tell the batter. It was great b/c Harold Reynolds was getting all into it and than said "How could you not want to know what's coming?....Well, I wouldn't." it was too funny.

    Stealing signs is pretty much like holding in the NFL but I doubt it happens as much.
     
  6. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport Cinematographer

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    When I watch M's games the announcers often say what the next pitch is going to be.
     
  7. Denward

    Denward Supporting Actor

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    There's nothing illegal or unethical about stealing signs by normal methods. It's expected. That's why they don't hold up cue cards that say, "BUNT".

    However, it's not proper to do stuff like use binoculars and walkie-talkies to peer into the catcher's crotch and relay the signs to the players. An article came out a few years ago that the Bobby Thomson homerun off Ralph Branca ("The Shot Heard Round The World") may have have been tainted by high tech sign stealing using binoculars and a telegraph wire to the dugout.

    I don't think there's an unwritten rule against haircuts. But to do something like that while the game is going on shows a lack of interest in your team and how they're doing. That's bad for morale in any team sport.
     
  8. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    The announcers get to look at the centerfield camera all the time. So when there are no runners on base all they have to do is look for the common signs (1 finger for a fastball). Often the viewer can do the same thing. I’m sure that you are aware that you can also pick up the location of the pitch from that camera via the catcher.
     
  9. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    It is illegal to steal signs by electronic means. A few years back the Red Sox caught a team (Cleveland maybe? I forget) with an unmanned centerfield camera trained on the catcher and a close circuit monitor in the dugout. The Sox even recorded audio from the dugout which picked up the whistle from a coach whenever a fastball was coming. It was so obvious it was almost a joke and when the evidence was sent to MLB, the camera was covered and the monitor was removed. Don't know what happened to the offending team for punishment, but I'm sure they were chastised somehow.
     
  10. Andrew Pezzo

    Andrew Pezzo Second Unit

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    The fact that catchers change signs when men are on base is a good example that players/managers worry about the opposing team stealing signs. Otherwise we would see every single catcher using 1 for fastball, 2 for curve, and so on for every pitch no matter what the situation in the game is.

    If what they say about hitting a baseball being the hardest thing to do in sports I as a hitter would want every advantage I could get. There are other illegal ways to get an advantage, which many players do (steriods, corked bats -Sammy isnt the only one) so if someone has figured out the sign more power to them.

    A good, smart hitter can sometimes guess the pitch. I dont see much difference in stealing signs since the pitcher still needs to get the location right.
     
  11. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Actually I couldn’t hit the curve when I knew it was coming.
     

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