Robert Andino, Russell Martin, Sign stealing, Willie Bloomquist

Are You Looking at Me?: Basepath Espionage Breaks Out Across the Land

Pablo Sandoval and Willie Bloomquist get acquainted.

Less than a week into the season, and we already have sign-stealing controversies breaking out on both sides of the country. The more prominent of the two came in Baltimore yesterday, when Yankees catcher Russell Martin lit into Orioles second baseman Robert Andino as the final out of New York’s victory was being recorded.

Andino had been a runner at second, which led to speculation that he was either tipping signs or location, or was doing something that looked remarkably similar to tipping signs or location.

Andino was quick to temper following Martin’s accusation, screaming toward the Yankees as they proceeded through their post-game handslaps. (Watch it here.) He later denied everything, calling it a misunderstanding, and came up with the line of the young season when, asked whether the Yankees might retaliate against him, he said, “I ain’t a future teller.”

Martin, of course, is no stranger to ferreting out this type of shenanigan. Last year, he went public with accusations that the Blue Jays were stealing signs at the Rogers Centre during the course of an eight-run first inning against Bartolo Colon. (Joe Girardi backed him up a day later by continuing to mandate the use of complex signs, even with nobody on base.)

Meanwhile, on Sunday in Phoenix, Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval took exception to some of the movements of Diamondbacks shortstop Willie Bloomquist, at second base with one out in the seventh, as the Giants clung to a 6-5 lead. His ideas about Bloomquist’s motives appeared to closely mirror those Russell Martin held about Andino. During a mid-inning visit to the mound, Sandoval turned toward Bloomquist and let fly with some choice sentiments. (Watch it here.)

Bloomquist had a chance to argue his side of things only moments later, when a walk to Justin Upton loaded the bases, forcing him to third. Sandoval didn’t want any part of an argument and immediately waved away his previous accusation, but by that point it didn’t matter—if Bloomquist had been signaling pitches, he’d already been caught, and his approach was going to have to change.

Which is the thing about sign stealing: Were Bloomquist stealing signs, his actions mandated little more than a brief warning (and a new set of signs), which is precisely what was delivered. (Arizona did go on to score twice in the inning to take the lead, but both runs came on infield errors; if D’Backs hitters continued to be tipped off after Sandoval’s discussion with Bloomquist, they certainly didn’t do much with the information.)

Things will get particularly interesting should such accusations persist the next time these sets of teams meet, or if other clubs begin lobbing similar indictments toward the O’s or D’Backs. Until then, they’ll likely continue to take ’em as they can get ’em—just like always.

– Jason

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