Orioles starter Jason Hammel gave up four runs on four solo homers to the Blue Jays on Wednesday night and left the Rogers Centre a bit puzzled by what he saw from Toronto’s offense.
“The swings they were taking on breaking stuff, it was pretty amazing to me,” Hammel told The Sun’s Eduardo Encina. “I don’t think you can take swings like that not knowing they’re coming. I don’t know. That’s all I can say. There’s rumors and things like that. I don’t know.”
Those “rumors” Hammel was referring to were the accusations last season that the Blue Jays were tipping pitches. ESPN The Magazine did a feature on the Jays sign stealing in August of last season. At that time, Toronto’s GM Alex Anthopoulos called the sign stealing report “stupid” and said it “has got a lot of holes in it.”
Though Hammel never said the words “sign stealing” his comments to Encina certainly alluded to it. “I can’t speak on that, but they were taking very, very big strong hacks on breaking stuff. It was something I’ve never seen before.”
In my opinion, sign stealing is one of those unwritten elements of baseball. Is it wrong? Probably, but it shouldn’t give a team so much of an edge that players should be worrying about it. It certainly isn’t comparable to the way the Patriots cheated in the NFL.
However, I don’t think Hammel was wrong for bringing it up and his comments shouldn’t be taken out of context. He never blamed the sign stealing for the loss, he simply said he had never seen such strong swings on breaking pitches.
Let’s see what the national media does with this.