Posted on October 17, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez stole home during Game 1 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, according to Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, that is the least of what the Cubs have been stealing this postseason. Grandal has accused the Cubs of stealing signs, singling out utility player Ben Zobrist in being involved in the act. However, Grandal says he is at least aware of what the Cubs are doing.
Grandal was asked about the topic following the Dodgers win in Game 2, and he was able to point to a specific moment in Game 1 of the NLCS that he believes is proof of the Cubs stealing signs. “All the sudden, (Addison) Russell is not taking good swings at sliders, looking like he’s looking for a fastball and in a certain location,” the Los Angeles catcher explained, referencing a moment in the 8th inning. “Did we know Zobrist had the signs and was doing something for it? Yeah, we did.”
The Dodgers knowing that the Cubs were stealing signs allowed them to switch things up in Game 2. Of course, against Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, Chicago managed just two hits and one walk over nine innings in Game 2, so there were few opportunities for the Cubs to steal signs. However, that hasn’t altered the level of concern the Dodgers have over the Cubs being able to steal signs.
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“We are literally paranoid when it comes to men on second and they are trying to get signs. We know who is getting the signs. We know what they’re doing. We know what they do to get it,” Grandal said after Game 2. “In the playoffs, one relayed sign could mean the difference between winning the World Series and not getting there. That’s why we have four or five different sets of signs, and we’re constantly changing.”
Of course, stealing signs is not illegal in baseball, and if the Cubs are indeed stealing the signs Grandal is giving to the Los Angeles pitchers, there’s nothing the Dodgers can do to prevent it from happening other than come up with a system that the Cubs can’t track. Stealing signs is obviously not the most noble endeavor, and you may find something in baseball’s unofficial rulebook that implores teams not to do it. Nevertheless, if a team is willing and able to do it, it can be one way to gain an advantage, and few teams would be ashamed to do so if it helps them reach a World Series.
Even with Grandal speaking publicly about Chicago stealing signs, the Cubs are unlikely to be deterred from doing so the rest of the series. The Dodgers will have the off day on Monday to work out a new set of signs for Game 3 that the Cubs won’t be able to steal. Other than that, all Grandal’s accusation does is add another wrinkle to an already compelling NLCS that is tied 1-1, as the series moves to Los Angeles for the next three games.