what is sign stealing, did aaron judge sign steal?

What Should Be Considered Sign Stealing?

Chris Elwell

Sign-stealing has been a part of Major League Baseball since its beginning, and has evolved into something that has changed how the game is played. With the introduction of PitchCom, pitchers now have the option to wear the electronic device that relays pitch signals to the catcher.

In recent seasons, stealing signs has been a major cause of controversy. Perhaps it may never reach the level of the 2017 Houston Astros again, but teams are still concerned about allowing their opponent to know what pitch is coming.

aaron judge sign stealing, sign stealing controversyPhoto courtesy of Larry Brown Sports

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge has been the most recent target being accused of sign stealing when he looked toward the Yankee dugout in the 8th inning of their 7-4 win over the Blue Jays on Monday night. Toronto’s broadcast booth showed a replay of Judge directing his eyes away from Jay Jackson on the mound before he launched a 462-foot home run for his second of the game.

Judge was accused of looking at catcher Alejandro Kirk to potentially see what pitch would be thrown, and was faced with constant questions from the media after the game regarding the at-bat. “I’m not happy about it, but people can say what they want. I’ve still got a game to play. I’ve got things to do,” said Judge.

Judge dismissed the allegations, telling reporters that he was looking towards their dugout to see who was chirping the umpire as well as Toronto’s dugout.

aaron judge sign stealing, did aaron judge sign steal?Photo courtesy of CBS Sports 

No investigation will be launched by MLB to assess the situation, as no rules were violated during Judge’s at-bat and the events that followed.

The allegations that Judge has been faced with are nothing that has any to do with stealing the other team’s signs. There is a fine line between gamesmanship and the actual stealing of a pitcher’s signs, which has become a major development around the league in recent years.

PitchCom has become a very popular asset for teams to have, in an attempt to change the way of delivering pitch signals from a sequence of finger movements by the catcher. Teams have figured out ways to crack the code of these movements, relaying the sign to the hitter in a discreet way.

aaron judge sign stealing, did aaron judge sign steal?Photo Courtesy of Stadium Reviews

If teams do not want players to steal their signs, there is a simple answer: hide your signals better. MLB players have the ability to process the game at an incredible rate while playing, and have found ways to help their teammates in order to come away with a win.

Relaying signs has been an aspect of baseball through generations. It is a part of baseball that cannot be measured by a stat and plays a crucial role in deciding the outcome of the game. Being able to outsmart the other team and figure out their game plan on the field has never been thought to be sign-stealing, and it never should be.

Gamesmanship and being aware of what’s happening on the field is a critical part of baseball, which is far different from actually stealing signs using an external source. The use of electronic devices to steal signs has been banned by MLB, and rightfully so as teams have used them in the past, resulting in fines, suspensions of players and managers, and firing of front office members.

The concept of sign stealing has been blown out of proportion in recent years due to the extent that some teams have gone, but now that punishments have been served, no team is willing to reach that mark.

With all of the changes that MLB is making to speed the game up and draw a bigger audience, there are some aspects that will be around forever. The difference between cheating and stealing signs is considerable and should be realized by fans, media, and announcers before making allegations.


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