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Don Mattingly on St. Louis Cardinals sign stealing

As baseball fans remember, some not-so-good-natured barbs went back and forth between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals during their 2013 National League Championship Series match-up, won by St. Louis in six games.

Some discomfort still lingers.

With all 30 MLB managers in the house at Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Orlando this week, Dodgers’ skipper Don Mattingly spoke with ESPN Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Here is a brief summary of Mattingly’s thoughts in bullet points. See how well you think this holds together.

  • The Dodgers knew the Cardinals had a reputation of stealing opponents’ signs.
  • Stealing signs is not why St. Louis won the series.
  • The Dodgers complained to the umpires about how Cards 3B coach Jose Oquendo positioned himself.
  • Mattingly used someone else to relay his signals from the dugout to keep the Cards from stealing them.
  • The Dodgers did not change their signs from the regular season because they feared it might cause confusion among their players.
  • Some Dodgers thought Cards baserunners were signaling their catcher’s signs, helping the batters with pitch location. (The Cards batted .190 with bases empty and .259 with RISP.)
  • Mattingly said it was the Dodgers’ responsibility to stop the Cardinals from stealing signs from second base.

So there you have it. I get what it says about the Cardinals, but what does it suggest about Mattingly, his coaches and his team?

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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14 Responses to “Don Mattingly on St. Louis Cardinals sign stealing”

  1. crdswmn says:

    The Cardinals have a reputation for stealing signs?

    I thought all teams tried to steal signs.

  2. blingboy says:

    I would think its a base coach or baserunner’s duty to steal signs if the opponent is going to let them. Its like how players put their glove over their mouth when having a conversation on the mound. If they choose not to, they could hardly complain if opponents could tell what they were saying.

    Along the same lines, a base coach should not be allowed to position himself outside the box over the objection of the opponent. I doubt teams would object to the 3B coach positioning himself further out of harms way in the case of certain hitters, nor moving out of the box once a ball is in play.

    Spotters with binoculars or the like would be a whole different conversation, as would some system of quickly relaying info from TV.

    • crdswmn says:

      I agree that stealing signs from a position off the field with spotters and the like is not kosher. But I think anyone on the field, either player or coach, is fair game to try to decode signs, and it is up to the other team to prevent it. If you don’t take steps to do that, then you have no basis for complaining.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Long before and independent of this goofy situation, I have said for years that MLB needs to re-size the coaching boxes and make the coaches remain in them for the entire time the ball is in play. No exceptions and if not followed, the coach is ejected and fined. They may as well not even have the boxes today so how can anyone complain when the coaches are out of them?

  3. crdswmn says:

    It sounds like the author of that ESPN article is suggesting that the Cardinals’ success in hitting with RISP in the NLCS was based on sign stealing. Is he suggesting that the entire season’s success with RISP was all related to sign stealing? If so, the Cardinals have a person or two who might be of interest to the US government if they are that good at decoding. That is a lot of team’s signs to steal.

    As for the allusion to Kershaw’s meltdown in Game 6, it’s not like that has not happened before to Kershaw. The Cardinals scored 8 runs off him in a regular season game in July of 2012. They have always managed to hit him better than other teams.

    • blingboy says:

      Not that I agree with him, but I have not heard an especially plausible explaination for the outsize RISP numbers.

      • crdswmn says:

        Why does there need to be an explanation?

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        Cardinals aren’t stealing signs………… they aren’t…………. there is a dramatic suspension of hitting rules in certain situations that I believe has a dramatic effect on there numbers. Those aren’t HR numbers………..they really aren’t doubles numbers so much……….. the opposition are the one that are caught over emphasizing their own tactical exploitation of Cardinal tendencies………….they often just aren’t making good pitches to players that suddenly are suspending their power stroke attempts ……… Craig OPO was the most successful…….. Holiday is happy to dink singles……. Those Carpenter doubles did a lot more to unnerve pitch sequences than you might think………….

      • blingboy says:

        Well there it is. A plausible explanation. Thanks Westy.

  4. kray66 says:

    Talk about a bunch of whiners. The 2013 Postseason was pretty exciting, despite the loss in the World Series. And I thought there was great respect between the Cardinals and both the Pirates and Red Sox. Hard fought series for each, and in the end I respected both of our opponents for the way they played.

    But the Dodgers? To hell with them. They acted like a bunch of spoiled brats and got sent home. Boo hoo.

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