SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

STEALING SIGNS? SO WHAT. IT'S BASEBALL. Sports stories in both of Seattle's big newspapers discuss yesterday's Mariner loss to the Toronto Blue Jays wherein some sign stealing apparently hurt Mariner pitcher Ryan Franklin. The articles raise the issue of whether it is cheating for a baserunner to decipher the signals being made between a pitcher and a catcher--and then relaying those deciphered signals to one's own batter. To me, its not cheating. It's simply part of the game.

Of course, it is not a good thing to be relaying stolen signs to a batter in an obvious manner. The trick is to relay the intercepted signs in a subtle manner that goes unnoticed by the other team.

But that's not the end of it. John Hicky's Seattle P-I article summarizes steps that can be taken by a team when they suspect their signals are being stolen:

One is to keep men from getting to second base too often. Two is, frankly, for a pitcher to hit the batter or threaten to, and let him know the reason why. The third, and easiest, is to change signs. Repeatedly.

It's not terribly uncommon to find little league or senior little league kids yelling out another team's signals. Obviuosly, those are embarrassing, bush league antics. If a team has a coach who is anything other than a cad, he will tell the kids on his team to knock it off. (Another annoying little leaguer antic is for a baserunner to clap loudly while on base loud to distract the pitcher.)

As with evident sign stealing, any of the foregoing would result in a good beaning by the pitcher were it to take place at higher levels of the game.

In the end, the team whose signs are stolen have to take responsibilty for making their signals too easy to intercept. Pat Borders acknowledges as much in Bob Finnigan's Seattle Times story:

"That sort of thing happens," Borders said of stealing signs. "If I can't figure out a way to prevent it, I'm not doing my job. For one thing, I set up just as late as I can so the other team has as short a time as possible to get location."

Actually, you have more options to evade signal stealing at lower levels. I was catching in a senior little league game once where the other team was stealing signals and bragging about it. Since beanballs are never called for at that low of a level, we had to make due. The pitcher on my team was a GIGANTIC 300+ lb. man-child, but he was primarily a junkballer. So I went out to the mound and told him to throw whatever he wanted whenever he wanted--and that I would catch it. I went back behind home plate and made gibberish signals for the rest of the game and our pitcher threw whatever type of pitch delighted him most. It wasn't easy to catch, but we made it work. The other team simply thought our new signals were too hard to read and just gave up on it.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)


  • At 9:59 AM, Blogger (Doxxiegirl) said…

    hmm...interesting. Yet another reason why I dont really think professional sports are serious games anymore, Especially when half of the players are hopped up on steroids and the other half are from some foreign country, cant speak english and are not allowed to retire when they want or take a break.

    Also, I thought that the catcher was suppose to basically make the sign only visible for the pitcher??

  • At 8:29 AM, Blogger (Doxxiegirl) said… clarify. sort of...sort of goes off on terrorism...I am not anti foriegner...I am all American. (and...if you watched the news this year, you will have seen the outrage in the baseball community from the increase of steroid cant be a real player if you need drugs to play the game)

    I believe that if you cannot make a winning team out of naturalized citizens, then you just dont need to have that team at all. How many players were recruited from other countries in 1845 when baseball was started? very very few...How many pennants were won by teams that were all American teams built from american players? lots. It isnt that I do not want foreign people on our teams, it is simply that I want Americans to have to first choice to partake in this game. Japan...they have their own baseball league...their own competitions..etc...(let me clarify also, that I am not asking for teams to be all white, I dont care about the color of skin, I just think in the billions of people that we have in America, there are enough people to make a team of Americans)

    We recruit members from other countries and we sign contracts with them..which only dilutes our country... for example, Ichiro...must send a portion of his money back to Japan.(ok, no prob...but it isnt by choice, it is required)..did you know his family is not allowed to come all at the same time, they keep them in Japan for collateral...that way he cant quit playing...take that basketball player from China...who wanted to take the summer off...but China refused to let him..and said if he didnt play their summer all star team, they would deport him and return him to China...Why are we involving ourselves in messes like this?

    After all the bombings that have happened in the last 3 years...I am just tired of catering to other countries..its hard for me to trust not a bigot or racist...I am just smart...and I want my country protected. Which, I think means, until we get some handle on terrorism..we need to close America, lets keep who we have, and quit adding more people..the more we allow in, the more terrorist slip by, how do you think they got here in the first place.


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