I love this game

Baseball is a wonderful game. No, it really is. It gets criticized for being boring and too slow moving. But the speed of the game allows for a chess match like no other and with a code that most outsiders aren’t privy too. The Twins and Tigers series had some of the typically hidden aspects at its best.

Sign Stealing

The video below came out and it shows what is believed to be Joe Mauer signaling pitch calls to batter Jason Kubel. The Twins of course deny this and laugh it off. If you haven’t seen the video, watch  it and draw your own conclusions.

I think it’s great. Sign stealing happens all the time. There is nothing wrong with it and if the opposing team down’t sniff it out and stop them, that’s too bad. In this case we see Gerald Laird picking up on it and changing the signs.

This isn’t the first time signs have been stolen against the Tigers. I saw it against the Royals on the night of the Ernie Harwell game. Another friend saw it against the Indians and it resulted in Shin Soo Choo lacing a double. I’d guess and hope that the Tigers had done this at some point as well.

The Twins have nothing to apologize for (or even deny it if true). It’s baseball.

The Code

Yesterday there was a brouhaha where things got a little chippy. Denard Span got hit with a breaking ball that slipped. Marcus Thames got hit with a breaking ball that slipped. Both were most likely unintentional. Thames also got buzzed later on by a breaking ball, and he took exception to the height of the pitch…then some other stuff happened.

In a situation I misread, Jose Mijares threw the ball behind Adam Everett. I couldn’t understand a reason why Mijares would throw at Everett so I figured he just lost control of the pitch. It turns out though that Mijares went after Everett because the Tigers ran to get guys in scoring position through “defensive indifference.” I’ve never heard of someone taking such exception to this, but the Twins and Tigers players knew exactly what was going on. The fact that the Tigers bench got warned rightly set Leyland off.

What I really respect about the Twins here is how they handled the situation afterward. They apologized for Mijares. They called him out. Gardenhire called Leyland and said Jeremy Bonderman did the right thing in plunking Delmon Young didn’t get pissed at Bonderman, he got mad at his own guy. Joe Mauer even said Bonderman did it the right way (I don’t agree with the Twinkie Town blog who said Bonderman was going after Young’s knees, I think he was trying to keep the ball down and Bondo’s control hasn’t been good enough since coming off the DL to go after his knees).

The code may be stupid and barbaric. I can’t really argue against it. What I love though is the complex game-within-the-game that takes place night in and night out that we as fans typically don’t even see or only know a part of the story.

13 Comments

  1. Ron

    October 2, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    It’s hard not to respect Gardy and the Twins after what they said yesterday.

    I must admit, I would have liked to see Delmon Young get ahold of Mijares. Bwahaha.

  2. Jen

    October 2, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I can’t believe Mijares was steamed over us taking a base when they weren’t holding us on. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do–get guys into scoring position and try to win the game? If you show defensive indifference, of course we’re going to take the base. Silly.

  3. Joel in Seattle

    October 2, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Try as I might, I can’t hate the Twins. Except in that “won’t these guys go away and quit challenging us for the division” sort of way.

    The White Sox, on the other hand, are easy to hate in every way.

    • Joey in Portland OR

      October 2, 2009 at 8:01 pm

      I agree 100%, but sometimes my dislike level rises.

  4. Coleman

    October 2, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Another example of how complex the catcher’s job is. The obvious skill is throwing out runners (we’ve been blessed with some good arms behind the plate); less obvious and more intangible is the “handling pitchers” skill, which I just rely on others for–I figure if teammates/coaches etc talk about how good a guy is with the pitchers, it’s probably true (on the other hand nobody ever says a guy isn’t good at that…you have to hear the lack of praise to pick that up). But picking up sign stealing/changing signs? That’s also pretty subtle and tough to pick up while watching a game. I imagine there is a range of skills there also; I’m guessing Laird is good at it…I’d be surprised if it were something Avila is good at already…

    • David

      October 2, 2009 at 5:24 pm

      I’m guessing catchers (and some unique MI) are the best at that type of stuff.

      I bet you Poly is fantastic at it. Now that I think about it, it is no wonder why Miguel Torres is doing so well, Poly is flashing him signs ;).

      • Coleman

        October 2, 2009 at 6:22 pm

        The Tigers are at a huge disadvantage in the sign-stealing game–cause you gotta have a baserunner get to 2nd to do it…

  5. jim-mt

    October 2, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Why didn’t Delmon understand the secret code??? He should have been on his toes!

    • Ron

      October 2, 2009 at 5:23 pm

      I think Span mentioned that he was talking to Delmon when Mijares was pitching, and they realized that Delmon was on deck and they knew what was coming. Hard to avoid a 90+ MPH fastball, I guess.

  6. West Coast Tiger

    October 2, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Here, Here. I love the game within the game. It’s like fights in hockey. One thing I would like to see more of, and frankly I think it could have been used to the Tiger’s benefit lately, is is a runner leveling the catcher on plays at home. What happened to lowering the shoulder and making him drop the ball.

  7. Vince in MN

    October 2, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Good gad. It used to be AUTOMATIC that when a team got a player to 2nd base, the pitcher and catcher got together and changed the signs. It is what is called fundamental baseball.

  8. jcm

    October 2, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    You dont steal base winning by six, because you dont pound on a dead horse. If you are trailing there is nothing wrong for the other team. If a player get caught , his team will fine him.
    In 1980 WS, P´s were down by four . Bowa stole second and they went to win the game and the end the series

  9. Chris in Dallas

    October 2, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with the post-age, billfer. The Mauer video is pretty sweet. Most of the time, you don’t realize this stuff is going on in live action so it’s neat to see it broken down like that. I don’t have a problem with it. And I have never, ever seen a player who just got plunked try to go after his own guy. Fun.