This one had it all—flexing after home runs, mocking the opposing dugout mid-HR trot and even the ultra-rare pause during a different trot so said trotter might have some words with a fielder. We saw emptying dugouts and the highest order of New York drama.
All because of a whistle.
The Yankees and Mets beat the stuffing out of each other all weekend, with the Yanks’ 8-7 Saturday victory built atop a five-run second inning. The Mets suspected foul play.
“Something out of the ordinary was going on,” said Francisco Lindor, discussing the incident with reporters after Sunday’s game. Whatever it was, he said, “I took it personal.”
What he took personal was a series of whistles coming from the Yankees’ dugout, which the Mets took to be pitch signaling—particularly against Saturday’s Mets starter Taijuan Walker, who gave up three homers in that fateful second frame. Jonathan Villar went so far as to call a mound meeting because he thought that Walker might be tipping pitches and that the dugout whistles could be keyed to that detail.
With this in mind, the Mets were paying attention on Sunday. Sure enough, there was reliever Wandy Peralta, whistling away in their dugout in the early innings. When reporters asked about it later, Yankees players did not even try to hide it. Their excuse: Peralta was just trying to “bring some noise.”
Lindor was having none of it. When he connected for his second homer of the game in the sixth inning—notably, against Peralta—he stared directly into the Yankees dugout while rounding the bases, and mimed a whistling motion.
In the scope of possible responses to signaled pitches, this one was mild. Nobody was thrown at and no on-field shouting matches ensued. Still, the Yankees were displeased. So displeased, in fact, that when Giancarlo Stanton hit his own homer in the seventh, he all but stopped between second and third base to give Lindor a piece of his mind. The players never came into physical contact—Lindor was out near the grass when it happened—but dugouts and bullpens emptied in response. Lindor and Javy Baez made keep-on-chirping puppet signals with their hands toward the Yankees’ scrum.
Today’s focus is on the fireworks, but the lasting import from yesterday’s game is that the Yankees’ upcoming opponents will now pay extra attention to possible signals from the New York dugout. If it exists, such a relay system doesn’t break any rules, but it’s certain to raise hackles in the opposing dugout.
For a team on the outside of the wild-card picture looking in, the Yankees need every advantage they can get. If similar whistling helped them at all during their 21-8 August, it’ll be a blow for them to curtail the practice now.