Judging the Royals

Tulowitzki gets tossed, and are the Blue Jays stealing signs?


Most of the time, umpires don’t want to eject players and they really don’t want to eject players from a playoff game.

Generally speaking, umpires do not want to affect the outcome of an important game by being thin-skinned; so you know Troy Tulowitzki was really pushing it when he got thrown out of Monday night’s game against the Royals.

It was a selfish move on Tulowitzki’s part.

Go back to the seventh inning: Tulowitzki gets called out on strikes and as he leaves the plate, barks at home plate umpire John Hirschbeck. You can argue balls and strikes with an umpire as long as you do it the right way: keep your head down and speak your piece. Do not turn and glare at the umpire.

Keep your head down and it’s just between you and him. Turn and stare at him and now everyone in the park knows there’s an argument going on.

Tulowitzki was probably already on thin ice because the Toronto hitters — Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin come to mind — have been turning and arguing with the umpires when they don’t like a call.

(On the other hand, Billy Butler did the same thing all the time, but now he’s somebody else's problem.)

After being called out on strikes, Tulowitzki went out to play short in the top half of the eighth and apparently would not leave it alone. He got into it again with Hirschbeck and got tossed.

Three things make that a really selfish move:

One: Tulowitzki’s team was winning 10-4 at the time, so the argument was really about him and his at bat, not his team.

Two: You want your pitcher to get the same call. That’s why Russell Martin arguing balls and strikes isn’t cool either. When he’s behind the dish, Martin will want that call for his pitcher.

And three: The Royals made a comeback and got within three. If there had been a play not made, or a double play not turned, that allowed the Royals to come all the way back, you could throw Tulowitzki under the bus for worrying more about himself than his team.

In Tuesday’s game, watch the Toronto hitters and how they react to borderline calls that go against them. If they keep their heads down when they talk to the umpires, that’s OK. If they look back, that’s not OK.

And let’s hope that the Royals hitters are smart enough to avoid showing up the umpires.

Let Toronto’s hitters get the umpiring crew mad and see how many borderline pitches they get.

The Star's Andy McCullough and Sam Mellinger discuss how Johnny Cueto fell apart in the Royals' 11-8 loss in Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday night in Toronto. Game 4 is at 3 p.m. Tuesday on FS1.

Are the Blue Jays stealing signs?

I mentioned this in a previous post, but let me expand on it: On Monday night Tom Verducci — one of the better baseball analysts — pointed out that Salvador Perez was using multiple signs without a runner on second base.

A simple sign system might be: last sign, shake, first. Put that in English and it means the catcher will give a series of signs and the last one in the sequence is the only one that matters. If the pitcher shakes that sign off, the first sign in the next sequence is the real sign.

Got it?

Johnny Cueto and Salvador Perez have hard a time getting on the same pitch-calling page, and using multiple signs for every pitch probably didn’t make things go any smoother.

So why do it?

There have been rumors for years that the Toronto Blue Jays steal signs.

There are hotel rooms over the outfield with a wonderful view of home plate. I’ve got no idea if any of this has really happened, but one theory is that the drapes on a certain room will be opened or closed depending on whether the pitch is a fastball or something off-speed.

If Toronto is stealing signs from a hotel room they’d have to get that information to a hitter quickly.

I’ve heard about a red light on a certain camera being off or on, depending on what pitch is about to be thrown next.

Another theory holds that Toronto’s hitters are just really good … but I think we all enjoy a good conspiracy theory.

Anyway, if you see Salvador Perez give multiple signs without a runner on second base, you know the Royals believe someone is stealing signs, or they’re just making sure if someone wants to steal signs they can’t.