Oh, goodness. The baseball world is in a mild kerfuffle about the Toronto Blue Jays. It seems that more than just a few people outside their organization feel very strongly that the team has been stealing pitching signs to allow their batters a better idea of what kind of pitch is coming.
This is scandalous. This is outrageous. This is egregious. According to this ESPN article written by Amy K. Nelson and Peter Keating, the Blue Jays have had someone sitting in the stands who signaled to the batter what kind of pitch was about to be thrown and this has led to an increase in home runs for them. The writers provided some interesting anecdotes as well as statistical evidence from Colin Wyers that shows there is something spicy in Toronto’s home cooking.
Well, the Blue Jays front office and players and coaches and fans and ushers and peanut vendors have all denied that anything even remotely resembling this has ever happened, or would ever happen, and that the claims are just the most ridiculous things ever written. Of course they denied it. Has anyone ever in the history of everything ever admitted to a crime they are guilty of?
A lot of the evidence that was presented is hard to verify and is somewhat circumstantial, and some have challenged the accuracy of the statistics as being math-nerd paranoia, while others have even challenged the accuracy of the article because it was co-written by a woman. Hey, it wouldn’t be the first time a woman made up something just to cause some drama — it wouldn’t even be the 100-billionth time — but that’s a stretch here.
Stealing other teams’ signs during a game has long been a part of the game, and it’s not really considered cheating. Players and coaches use complicated hand signals to talk on the field without the other team hearing, but the other team also has eyeballs, so you have to be careful. The other team can use these eyeballs to see what kind of pitch the catcher is telling the pitcher to throw. However, using some method to steal signs outside the field of play and without just the eyeballs of players is definitely considered cheating — but still not actually “against the rules.”
Baseball history is riddled with tales of sign stealing. Some of the 1951 New York Giants have admitted to stealing signs to help them win the pennant and even for Bobby Thompson’s “shot heard round the world” game-ending home run. The Blue Jays have actually been accused of this stuff for years. There was a story going around for a while that the team’s manager placed someone in one of the hotel rooms that overlooks the field to steal signs. And these days, when the Red Sox or Yankees play there, they mix up their signs so that no one “watching” can figure them out — something they don’t bother to do at other stadiums.
They haven’t named this scandal yet, but you can bet whatever they call it, it will have “gate” on the end, because in America, despite our boundless imaginations and occasionally superior intellects, we have to put “gate” at the end of any scandal. So this will be “Stealing Signs-gate” or “Spy in the Bleachers-gate.” What on Earth did people do before Watergate when a scandal happened!? (I mean besides just not giving a crap.) I propose we start referencing other past scandals like the Whiskey Ring Scandal or the Newport Sex Scandal (I don’t know what either of these were, I just Googled “political scandal” and they sounded like fun). Then we could call this “Stealing Signs-port Sex” or “Spy in the Bleachers-key Ring.”
Before we go any further I want to be very clear about this: I absolutely support teams doing stuff like this. If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying. The Tampa Bay Rays used to run the air-conditioning when the home team was batting to push fly balls just a little further. I love this. This is good. I encourage this sort of forward thinking.
And it’s not that I care whether or not anyone thinks the Blue Jays are cheating. There is a bigger issue here — a deeper issue — that very few people know about and many of those few are afraid to speak for fear of the repercussions. So, I’ll tell you right now: The accusations against the Toronto Blue Jays are completely accurate. “But, Jed, how can you possibly know this?” you ask.
The answer is simple -– because they are Canadians. And Canadians are secretly some of the worst people this planet has to offer. “But, Jed, how can that be with their maple syrup and their cute mounted police and their passion for hockey?”
Have you ever tasted real maple syrup? It tastes like liquid tree bark — because it comes from trees. Give me some Log Cabin synthetic syrup any day of the week. The mounted police are mounted on horses and those horses drop their feces all over town — not nearly as charming, is it? Oh, and hockey? Are you kidding me? Only six of the 30 NHL teams are in Canada — meanwhile, there is a hockey team in Phoenix, Arizona. And a Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993 — and Montreal had to cheat then to win.
“But, Jed, with their ‘Sorry, mum’ and their ‘take off, hoser’ and their ‘eh,’ they seem so nice.” That’s exactly what they want you to believe. I’m not sure who it was who started this propaganda about Canadians being nice, and I don’t know what his or her master plan is. But I have been to Canada three times in my life — the cities themselves are quite lovely — but when you look closer, you will see these “loveable Canucks” smoking marijuana in public and making homophobic remarks about a somewhat stylish shirt I was wearing and rioting about losing hockey games. It becomes clear that these are truly terrible people.
“But, Jed, what about the French?” Okay, yes, no one is worse than the French. Except — wait for it — the French Canadians! Imagine the absolute horribleness of a French person and multiply that times the awfulness of a Canadian and you have a level of unjustified snobbery, arrogance and body odor that is almost a violation of human rights.[Editor’s note: Just as a reminder, the content and opinions expressed by Jed Rigney in this and any other article do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by Through The Fence Baseball — or any normal-thinking person for that matter.]
Look, I’m not really angry at the Canadians for being horrible — everyone has that right. Heck, I’m horrible on a regular basis. There are many that will corroborate this. I just wish they weren’t trying to trick everyone into thinking that it’s a country full of clones of the loveable John Candy and Rick Moranis, who will give you a jelly donut and a beer and be your best friend.
I understand where their horribleness comes from. One month a year of summer and 11 months of winter would ruin anybody’s disposition. Plus, imagine being from a country that hasn’t ever really done anything. Their primary export is actors and actresses. And why are these actors and actresses so successful? Easy, because they have already spent their whole lives trying to convince the world they are “super nice, eh.”
So, yes, the Blue Jays are taking advantage of a loophole and gaining an advantage. Yes, they are “cheating.” And I would do the same thing, because, as I mentioned, I can be quite horrible. Is there enough evidence to prove they did it? Who cares? I’ve seen the only evidence I need to see: they are Canadian!
Oh, by the way, please do me a favor: if you see my wife, don’t mention I said any of this stuff. She’s from Canada and I really don’t want to make her upset, eh?