Major League Baseball may be in its offseason, but Chicago Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich took to social media to discuss one of the league’s hot button issues.
In a recent report, The Athletic alleged that the Houston Astros were using technology to steal signs during the 2017 season, during which the team won the World Series.
The story has generated shockwaves throughout the sport and has sparked an investigation by the league, and one of the players most affected by the alleged sign-stealing happens to be Darvish.
At the time of the incident, Darvish was pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and was shelled during two World Series starts against the Astros, giving up eight earned runs in just three innings of work in the series.
Darvish, in a video posted to his YouTube page earlier this week, didn’t blame the alleged “sign-stealing” for his struggles, but said he was never satisfied with the Astros’ explanation that he was tipping his pitches.
“I feel that if I absolve myself and say it was the Astros’ fault I was bad in Game 7, in the World Series, I can’t develop as a person,” he said in the video. “Because I had that experience, I was able to work hard these last two years and become the person I am now.”
After the Astros’ story broke, the spotlight turned toward other potential instances of sign stealing. The popular Cubs blog Bleacher Nation published a tweet showing Darvish step off of the mound while Yelich was batting during a game at Milwaukee’s Miller Park, and while some alleged that it was evidence that Darvish suspected that the Brewers’ slugger was stealing signs, Darvish wasn’t as sure:
“I’m not sure what he is trying to do,” he said. “But to be clear his eyes move first. That’s why I stepped off.”
As some fans pointed out in replies to the tweet, the bullpen at Miller Park is in left-center field, the same direction that Yelich appeared to look in the video. In a follow-up tweet, Darvish said that he did not mean to say that the Brewers were conclusively stealing signs, but Yelich did not take too kindly to the inference, saying that “nobody needs help facing you” and calling on Darvish to “be better:”
Darvish replied to Yelich’s tweet:
“Easy man,” he said. “I’m not saying you are stealing signs.”
The sign-stealing discussion will likely last through the remainder of the offseason and into the regular season, but Atlanta Braves slugger Josh Donaldson tried to inject some levity into the situation by replying to Yelich’s tweet:
After Donaldson asked Yelich for help in facing Darvish, the Cubs pitcher responded, saying that he didn’t think Donaldson “needed help” in the batter’s box.
With the sign-stealing story seemingly generating new headlines every day, this likely won't be the last time that a team has to face questions about its practices, but the Brewers have not been formally scrutinized.