Seeing that the Orioles were able to win the final two games of their weekend series with the Cleveland Indians, it seems that there isn't much to complain about in Birdland (in terms of wins and losses), at least for this evening. Last night Alfredo Simon provided the Orioles with an A-List effort as he turned in seven innings of two-run baseball. The O's made it interesting in the end as they allowed the Indians to put three across in the top of the ninth, but held on to win 6-5. This afternoon the Indians took a 3-0 lead in the first inning, and chased starter Mitch Atkins (who was optioned to the minor leagues after the game) after two innings. However Mark Hendrickson was excellent out of the pen, and the Oriole offense was able to come to life again to the tune of four HR's. I will say that Atkins and (backup) catcher Craig Tatum appeared to be out of synch from the beginning, and Atkins of course had been caught by Matt Wieters in his other two starts.
Speaking of catchers, I found it interesting that New York Yankee manager Joe Girardi accused the Toronto Blue Jays of stealing signs. However let's be truthful about this; he didn't just accuse them of stealing signs, he accused them of doing it electronically and thus illegally. The rules state that stealing of signs using artificial means (ie-flashing a light on the scoreboard) is illegal. However stealing signs in the sense that a runner on second is watching what sign the catcher puts down is not illegal per the rulebook. That's not what Girardi is saying; he's saying that it's being done by artificial means, and thus if that's true the Blue Jays would be subject to punishment from the league.
As I said, stealing signs on the field isn't illegal, but it does go against the unwritten codes of the game (which I feel are almost more important than the written rules). The Blue Jays, under Cito Gaston, were known as a team that would consistently steal signs. Gaston retired after last season, so it's not unreasonable to expect that they might still be doing it. Having said that, there were never any charges of illegal sign-stealing under Gaston, however the possibility certainly exists. So am I siding with the evil empire? I'm not really sure. I know the Blue Jays' reputation, so I suppose it wouldn't surprise me. Furthermore, one would also hope that if a big league skipper was going to make a charge as such there'd be some substance to it. On the flip side, the Yankees are the type of team that likes to complain when something doesn't go their way.
Whether or not this charge is true is beside the point of this discussion. Let the Blue Jays, Yankees, and MLB sort through that. I will say that I've seen some things that has led me to believe that teams steal the Orioles' signs. Last weekend in Boston it seemed like a lot of homers were being hit with guys on second base. All it takes is for the base runner to see the sign as put down by the catcher, and do something along the lines of pat his helmet for a fastball, pat it twice for a changeup, etc. So am I accusing the Red Sox of stealing signs and/or other teams? I suppose I am. However this is almost one of those what comes first the chicken or the egg questions. I do believe that teams/catchers have a responsibility to protect their signs as best they can. I'm not pinning this on Matt Wieters per se, but I notice him going to the mound often to check signs with pitchers. That tells me that teams are easily picking up the signs that Wieters is putting down.
One would like to think that players would have the integrity not to steal signs. However the fact is that they're out there and if catchers don't take measures to protect them games can get ugly. When Oriole pitching struggled immediately out of the gate last year (when the Birds started 2-16) I had the same hunch. It could even be something as simple as Wieters flashing the signs and teams in the opposite dugout are able to see his fingers under his legs. But I'm the first one to say that sign stealing of any sort (electronic or otherwise) is wrong. So if you're asking if I'd throw at a guy that I thought or knew was stealing signs, the answer is no. However that's not to say I wouldn't throw behind him...