Stealing signs a part of the game

Updated: May 12, 2003, 1:39 PM ET
By Jim Baker
A conundrum exists in baseball regarding signs. Those silly hand signals that players and coaches give one another to announce pitch selection, play choice and action desired. Some folks in the game get quite bent out of shape when their opponents make an attempt to ascertain and decipher these primitive codes.

The latest to be accused of this greatest theft since the Allies nabbed the Enigma wheel from the Germans in World War II, is Mike Scioscia and the Angels. Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca got all prickly under the collar yesterday when he told Joe Haakenson of the Los Angeles Daily News, "There are teams around the league, and this team (Angels) is probably one of them, that is trying to steal signs from second base," Scioscia's response to this was to say, ""Sign stealing's been in this game for 150 years, as long as we've been playing this game. I don't think it's an issue. We're not getting anything from those guys, but if they would like to give us something, we'll certainly take it." If that doesn't sound like a full denial to you it's because it really isn't one.

The Washington Post's Dave Sheinin reports there were similar accusations coming out of yesterday's Royals-Orioles game as well. The O's thought Ken Harvey was tipped off just prior to hitting the game-winning home run. Raul Ibanez -- the runner at second at the time of the fateful homer -- took umbrage to the very suggestion that he would even consider such an act. "We don't do that stuff. I was too busy worrying about getting picked off. I guarantee you, if they look on the videotape and see me signaling anything, I'll give up my entire year's salary."
Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at