Joe Torre Continually States That MLB Hasn’t Had Any Complaints About The Blue Jays Stealing Signs, Eludes To Playoff Expansion Being Inevitable
It’s one thing for a guy to try to steal signals at home from second base, but having a fan relay the information on from the stands? Wow. You’d think Major League Baseball would be all over that kind of allegation. Joe Torre, Major League Baseball’s Executive Vice-President of Operations agreed in his comments about the allegations surround the Toronto Blue Jays and stealing signs. Torre told The Fan 590 in Toronto that it’s fine for players to steal signs at second base if the catcher behind the plate isn’t smart enough to pick up on changing his signs, but if a fan is in any way involved, MLB would quickly intervene.
According to Torre, the Major League Baseball front office hasn’t received one complaint on the Blue Jays sign stealing allegations and they won’t start an investigation based on a single, unverified television story. But there is still smoke. Yankees catcher Russell Martin claimed on July 14th that he thought Toronto was stealing signs from second base, and the conspiracy theory has stayed alive and gained momentum ever since. Joe Torre joined The Fan 590 in Toronto with Bob McCown and Damien Cox to discuss sign stealing being a part of baseball, if he can recall any player or team ever being caught or admitting to sign stealing, if Major League Baseball will investigate the allegations based on the ESPN story, what the league’s firm stance on fans playing any role in sign stealing would be were there evidence of it occurring, and why he thinks expansion of the playoff format is an inevitability.
Has sign stealing always been a part of baseball from the start of the game where someone is trying to gain an edge by stealing signs?
“Well I don’t think there is any question when you can get away with it. Normally it’s within the confines of the field. This allegations seems to be stemming from something in the stands. Not that that hasn’t been the case in the old days. I remember at Wrigley Field and this was before I was in the big leagues there were a couple of pitchers getting signs with binoculars and scorecards and they were signaling to the players at the plate. They were exposed based on the fact that they were the only two guys in the bleachers. You get at second base you always change your signs as a catcher based on the fact that you don’t want to give yourself away, but as far as doing something mechanically or electronically or whatever? Then it becomes an issue. The only thing in responding to the allegation these days with free agency and players switching teams so often it’s tough to keep something like this a secret. That’s confusing to me that this would be a part of it.”
To your knowledge has anybody ever been caught or admitted to stealing signs in baseball?
“Nope. I don’t remember anybody raising their hand or admitting to it. There’s always been he said…he said. It’s never really gone anywhere. The only thing it really puts a damper on is the fact that when Jose Bautista is having a couple of great years and all of a sudden it takes away from the fact that this young man has found his stroke. He seems to be doing something that all of a sudden he can do because mechanically he found something, but you don’t want to look upon it as this is the reason he is having such a good year. Again we have never been as Major League Baseball…we have never been asked to investigate this. This thing showed up in I guess it was ESPN and normally if there was an issue the league office would get some kind of heads up on it, but we had never had any heads up on it. That’s the curious part about it for me.”
As a result of the ESPN story is Major League Baseball investigating into the Toronto Blue Jays sign stealing allegations?
“As much as we like to watch all these sports shows I hate to have them dictate what we do in our office. I’d like to have it come from someone with a little more connection to the teams on the field. Until we get someone looking for help and asking us to look into something I am certainly not going to do it based on a story in the newspaper. You wind up…or on TV…you wind up chasing your tail.”
Let me get this straight: It’s one thing for a player at second base to steal signs, but if fans in center field were to be helping in sign stealing Major League Baseball would take an issue with that right?
“Yeah and we’ve been asked over the years…even before I got here I think Philadelphia comes to mind for me in fact we had some curiosity when we played them in the playoffs because they have so many cameras in center field. There have been things that have been investigated and really they found nothing in Philadelphia, but as far as anything on the field yeah that’s all legal anything that you can get away with on the field is legal. If you look in and the catcher doesn’t want to change the signs well he deserves to have his pitches picked off. Anything that is sort of planned like that then it becomes an issue, but as I said we haven’t had any complaints about it.”
Is playoff expansion inevitable? Will we see it next year in your opinion?
“I think it is inevitable. Right now you are going to have a collective bargaining agreement being negotiated. It’s up this year and they continue to talk about things. I think that down the road it’s certainly realistic to think about the extra wild card team. I think there has been talk about it. As far as…I think realignment has been talked about? As far as making it 15 and 15 [teams] in each league. A couple of things have been talked about, but I’ve never been a big fan myself of the fact that…first of all I wasn’t a fan when the commissioner said we are going to have a wild card team. I said I didn’t like that and then it turned out he was right and I am not saying that because I am working for him. It certainly made it more exciting for teams in September, but I didn’t think there was any penalty or handicap for being the wild card team in the postseason. I think if you add another wild card team at least it gives that wild card team another layer of playoffs to earn their way into the big dance.”