The Blue Jays have the right to a Jay Jackson anecdote. Well, at least he had one until the Yankees’ Aaron Judge took him on Monday night, prompting the pitcher to return to Triple A.
Before Jackson got into a set position, he raised his hands near his ear as he caught the ball. The fist, indicating the type of pitch he was about to throw, was visible to Yankees first base coach Travis Chapman, according to multiple Jays sources. Jackson admitted, in a phone interview Tuesday night, that he tended to slide, but said the timing of his delivery was more of an issue than his grip.
So, there you go. Judge was not illegally stealing signs when Jays announcers Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez noticed he was glancing sideways during his eighth inning against Jackson. He was apparently looking at Chapman, who could have conveyed Jackson’s saying through hand signals, behavior that is perfectly permissible under Major League Baseball rules.
The judge, though, probably didn’t need to be so critical.
“From what I’ve been told, I’ve been kind of turning the field,” Jackson said, after hitting the first two batters in the eighth inning Judge threw six straight slides, the last on 3-2. “It was[lower]my grip when I was trailing behind my ear. That was when he would take me out of my set position, from the glove coming from my head to my hips. On fastballs, I would do it faster than on sliders. They were kind of They pick him up.”
Such behavior is part of the ethos of the games in which smart teams go after every possible advantage. The Blue Jays didn’t say the Yankees did anything outrageous, other than perhaps incorrectly positioning their coaches. No one has accused the Yankees of using any of the electronic equipment that has been banned in Major League Baseball in the wake of the Astros signal theft scandal.
“If they knew it was coming and he clipped me,[then]he clipped me,” Jackson said. “I’m glad he hit her as much as he did.”
Jackson’s comments should provide some insight into the matter, but in an era of paranoia in baseball, fans will believe what they want to believe, and the league’s failure to enforce its rules and stop illegal electronic sign theft in the late 2010s.
Conspiracies abound on social media these days, and when Schulman and Martinez noticed the movement of the judge’s eye and wondered aloud what he was looking at, it was a trigger.
In this case, though, the collective side eye is gratuitous. Even if the Yankees coaches are out of their boxes, a point that Jays officials brought to the league on Tuesday, Toronto pitchers need to remain consistent in their handoffs, hide their grips, and do whatever is necessary to mask their pitches. Likewise, catchers must mask locations, but Blue Jays manager John Schneider said he “didn’t see anything” with Alejandro Kirk, his team’s catcher.
Schneider declined to comment the athleteCaitlin McGrath when she learned of Jackson’s remarks. But before the game, talk about the importance of teams needing protection from opponents who adopt their bias.
“If you’re doing things in plain sight, I think you have to be able to get it right and you have to be willing to take the consequences as they come,” Schneider said. “If it’s done fairly, it’s part of the game, everyone is looking to help out their teammates, everyone is looking to get a sense of inclinations, so anything that happens on the field the right way, absolutely fair game.”
Regarding the situation for Yankees coaches, Schneider said, “I think there are boxes in the ballpark for a reason. And yeah, I think when it’s a stark 30 feet where you’re not, you put two and two together a little bit. … If things are picked up from People who aren’t where they should be, that’s where the line has to be drawn.”
Trying to make sure the line was drawn Tuesday night, the Blue Jays asked Yankees third base coach Luis Rojas to stay inside his box. The Yankees later made the same request of Blue Jays third coach Luis Rivera. But the bigger question, that of Al-Qadi’s eye movements, seems to have already subsided.
A league source said the athleteBrendan Cotey, “There is no indication that anything that happened last night was in violation of our rules.” Yankees manager Aaron Boone added that he did not expect an investigation by the league. And Schneider certainly wasn’t calling for anyone.
Jackson said the Geese first told him he might have been leaning after he walked out of the game on Monday. He was working at Rogers Center on Tuesday, shortly after learning he had been optioned back to Triple A, when the topic came up again.
“One player said to me that maybe I was filtering my shows,” Jackson said. And then the video guy came back later and said, “Hey, maybe we picked something over the difference between a slider and a fastball.” Maybe it was something these guys were getting carried away with. Just be aware of it. You may want to change it next time.”
Often when an opponent detects a pitcher tipping over, it is the runner on second base who acts as an investigator and relays the information to the hitter. Jackson said he could accept such an outcome easier than a hitter who “peeked somewhere”. As the coaches said, “They shouldn’t transmit signals.” But he added, “If I give out pitches, it’s on me. I’ve got to fix that and make a better 3-2 pitcher in that situation regardless. I left it at center field.”
Major League Baseball regulations, a copy of which was obtained from before the athlete, prohibits the delivery of signals or pitch information from the dugout. The introduction of PitchCom, which enables direct communication between the pitcher and the catcher, made streamer stealing obsolete. But the regulations, which are updated each year, clearly state that the base coach or runner on the field can pass on other news.
Regulation 1-1(b) states that “during a game, no member of the club shall communicate in any way opposing team signals or pitch information to the batter, baserunner, or coach on the field,” “The only exception to this rule is that The baserunner or field coach who identifies opposing club signals or pitch information through his unsupported observation of the opposing team’s pitcher, catcher, or dugout may communicate this information to the batter or other coach on the field.
“Presentation information” means any information about the type or location of an incoming pitch, or any signals to the pitcher that may assist the batter in recognizing information about the pitch (for example, “tipping” information).
The Yankees’ past isn’t entirely clean. Commissioner Rob Manfred fined them $100,000 for using their stash phone to relay information about opposing teams’ signals during the 2015 season and part of 2016. Back in 2015, the Yankees used a video replay room to learn other teams’ signal sequences, a common practice used by clubs before the league tackled such This behavior prior to the 2018 season.
The league continued to establish new rules and new methods of enforcement after the Astros scandal. The Yankees, in this tougher era, are among the clubs most astute at legally detecting pitchers’ inclinations. They picked Tigers pitcher Elvin Rodriguez who was a tipped center fielder last season, prompting the right-hander to say, “They got me.” And Monday night, they got Jackson.
“It is what it is,” Jackson said. “I have to clean it up, come back and get it next time.”
(Top photo: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)