Eyes, the mirrors to your swing

At the time of writing, it’s been just over two weeks since the latest ‘scandal’ engulfed Major League Baseball.

While you’d think it was just a storm in a teacup that would blow itself out, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Chris Bassitt has now called New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge a liar when commenting on his suspicious side-eyes.

Judge would deliver a 462-foot home run to the Yankees’ 7 – 4 GAME 1 win on Monday night, but it would be the build-up to the run that’s the most interesting part.

Bassitt wants Judge to admit what really happened.

What’s the story?

2R27494 Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Chris Bassitt works against the New York Yankees during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

During Monday night’s GAME 1 of the Yankees – Blue Jays Second Series, Judge would be at-bat, giving viewers and commentators a good look at the 31-year-old two-time AL MVP winner.

The cameras would then capture the moment during Jay Jackson’s pitch that Judge would look off to his right and back up to Jackson. Where’s he looking, the commentators would ask?

The second pitch would come in and Judge would ping the ball off to the left 462-feet, giving him ample time to pick up his second homerun of the night.

What did Judge say?

2R1X8DT Toronto, Canada. 15th May, 2023. May 15, 2023, Toronto, on, Canada: New York Yankees Aaron Judge hits his second homer of the game during 8th inning AL action against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto on Monday May 15, 2023 (Credit Image: © Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via Credit: Zuma Press/Alamy Live News

Judge had responded to the incident saying that he was actually eye-balling his teammates for talking smack about the Jays and it was distracting his swings.

‘I said a couple things to some guys in the dugout and especially after the game. Hopefully it won’t happen again,’ Judge had said.

What did Bassitt say?

2R27494 Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Chris Bassitt works against the New York Yankees during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

Bassitt called Judge’s story a lie.

The pitcher reiterated the Jays’ complaint that claimed the Yankees’ First and Third base coaches were relaying information to Judge about Jay’s pitches and he was picking up the signs.

In his recent interview with the ‘Chris Rose Sports’ podcast, he said that they knew the Jays were pitch tipping.

Bassitt understood that it’s something that happens in games of this level and Judge’s gesture got him caught.

Lands in a Grey Area

2R274G0 Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Chris Bassitt works against the New York Yankees during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

Relaying Jays’ pitch-tipping to Judge wasn’t illegal but it does land in a ‘grey area’.

Speaking to Rose, he said, ‘If the First and Third Base coaches are having to relay tips, is that kind of a grey area, where it’s like, should that be allowed for First and Third Base coaches to do?

‘You can argue that back and forth all you want. Judge’s response to it? I had no problem with it. Was it a like, Yeah, it was a lie.

‘What, do you want him to do? Come out and say “Hey, all their pitchers were tipping and I’m going to tell them how they’re tipping”.

‘I think he kind of made up a story just to basically kind of say, “I’m not going to tell them they’re tipping, why would I say that?’

Jackson’s response

2P6TEDM BRADENTON, FL – MARCH 07: Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Jay Jackson (64) delivers a pitch during an MLB Spring Training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 07, 2023 at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

The pitcher who gave Judge his homerun opportunity did admit that he was pitch-tipping.

Jay Jackson told the Athletic, ‘From what I was told, I was kind of tipping the pitch.

‘It was (less) my grip when I was coming behind my ear. It was the time it was taking me from my set position, from my glove coming from my head to my hip.

‘On fastballs, I was kind of doing it quicker than on sliders. They were kind of picking up on it.’

What are all these rules?

The reality is, if the Yankees’ coaches or players were relaying any such information to Judge, it wouldn’t be considered illegal or even cheating.

Visually studying a pitcher’s throws and passing that information down the line to a batter, wouldn’t be prohibited.

If there was a ruddy great camera filming them, then there would be problems… cue the 2017 Houston Astros sign stealing controversy which used camera feeds.

Sign Stealing?

Considered to be an artform, players and coaches will often use hand signals to indicate strategic decisions on everything from stealing bases or bunts and those can be seen by the opponents.

Then the opposing team’s players or coaches will try and figure out what the signs mean and if they can, get an edge over their opponent.

With the arrival of PitchCom, there are much less hand signals because the calls for fastballs, curveballs or other tactics, can be communicated through the wristband.

They issue the command and the message is received via their batterymate earpiece.

2MBF254 A PitchCom transmitter is seen on the forearm of Minnesota Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers prior to a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Thursday, May 5, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Pitch Tipping?

These are circumstances when the pitcher will broadcast his intentions before he makes the throw.

It could be a whole manner of signs from where he puts his feet on the pitching rubber or how much he grips the ball.

Hitters will glue their eyeballs on these subtle gestures, to determine what’s coming their way. Coaches will also be checking the after-game footage of pitchers to decipher their technique.

More on the grey

2NC61RN February 14, 2023, DUNEDIN, FL, UNITED STATES: Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider watches a drill from second base during spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Tuesday, February 14, 2023. (Credit Image: © Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via ZUMA Press) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE!

So we’ve established that there is ‘technically’ nothing wrong with these two tactics in-game but in this game in question, there is still a grey area, especially with their base coaches.

Speaking to the Associated Press following the game, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider did raise concern about where the First and Third base coaches positioned themselves.

Jays had spoken to the MLB Commissioner about their claim that these two coaches were not sticking to their boxes.

While it’s not unusual for coaches move outside the box, Schneider had alleged that the First Base Coach Travis Chapman had left his so he could grab a sneak peak of Jackson’s grip.

“There’s boxes on the field for a reason,” Schneider had told AP.

Posted on: 01 Jun 2023