x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

More than just bases being stolen in MLB

Hard to believe Yankees' manager Joe Girardi was surprised to see the kind of gamesmanship promoted by Baltimore Orioles.

Buck Showalter, left, a former New York Yankees manager now managing the Baltimore Orioles, was quick to compliment his former organisation's ability to steal signs a day after the current Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, accused Showalter's Orioles of doing just that in a heated argument. AP Photos
Buck Showalter, left, a former New York Yankees manager now managing the Baltimore Orioles, was quick to compliment his former organisation's ability to steal signs a day after the current Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, accused Showalter's Orioles of doing just that in a heated argument. AP Photos

Players rushing the field, threatening to brawl? Happens all the time. Managers on the verge of trading blows?

Not at all the norm.

That would explain the interest among fans when the Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter and his New York Yankees counterpart, Joe Girardi, jumped out of their respective dugouts and began yelling at each other. Umpires and players kept the two from something even stranger – a managerial fistfight.

The dispute was over alleged “cheating”. Girardi accused the Orioles of stealing catchers signs or, more precisely, according to some reports, that the Orioles third-base coach was telling the batter where the Yankees’ catcher was setting up.

Hard to believe that this was a surprise to Girardi, as such gamesmanship is part of baseball. It is why pitchers and catchers often change signals, especially when a runner reaches second base. Everyone assumes thievery goes on.

The next day, Showalter even praised the Yankees as “one of the better teams” at stealing signs.

There is a code among thieves, of course. You cannot use binoculars from the bleachers, for example. And the batter is not supposed to peek at the catcher as he sets up. Girardi’s code, apparently, excludes third base coaches from participating.

One might suggest it is time the thieves had a private talk to iron things out and perhaps remind themselves of their own rule No 1: if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying.

sports@thenational.ae