Sign stealing is as old as the game of baseball itself. Pitchers and catchers will often have a different set of signs to use when an opposing player gets to second base, just to try and prevent them from getting a sneaky look and tipping off their teammate at the plate.
The Cubs played the Rockies in Colorado on the weekend, and Javy Baez seemed to think that D.J. LeMahieu was trying to steal signs. In a hilarious passive-aggressive move, Baez (who plays shortstop) began standing directly in front of the Rockies second baseman, obscuring his view. He would then scramble back into his proper fielding position before the pitch from Jose Quintana.
After a few rounds of this, words were exchanged and umpire Vic Carapazza had to come over and break up the argument. If you thought that would be the end of it, you’re completely wrong. The words continued after the game.
“I don’t know if it was the pitch or the location, but they were doing something,” Baez said, according to Owen Perkins of MLB.com. “I’m 100 percent sure.
“We got to protect our team, our pitchers. This game is hard enough. If they’re going to do it, don’t do it to our face, because we’re going to do something about it.”
LeMahieu, on the other hand, denied everything and accused Baez of overreacting.
“We have a good hitting team,” LeMahieu said. “Teams think we are stealing signs all the time. We don’t steal signs because no one in our lineup wants them. Their (shortstop) was trying to make a big deal out of nothing.”
On the play in question, Colorado slugger Nolan Arenado struck out. Baez viewed that as vindication.
“After (Nolan Arenado) struck out, I turned to the outfield and said, ‘See the difference when they don’t know the signs,’ and then (LeMahieu) said something,” Baez said. “He told me, ‘Then change the signs.’”
Baez replied to LeMahieu: “Why are you telling me? Tell me to my face. Are you giving the signs?”
“I’m really mad about it, but I’m really smart,” Baez said. “We won the game and the series.”
The Cubs won 9-7 and took two out of the three games at Coors Field. The two teams play again in the first week of May. Hopefully there will be more sign stealing shenanigans and comedic overreactions!