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Phillies catcher JT Realmuto was the latest player caught stealing signs by Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.
Having a “competitive advantage” over an opponent in baseball has been around for a long time. There are some extremes players will take that are frowned upon such as banging on trash cans or using Spider Tack.
However, a less aggressive and more subtle approach to getting the upper hand comes in the form of sign stealing on the base paths.
Phillies catcher JT Realmuto was caught doing this mid-game by Dodgers starter during Wednesday night’s contest.
Players reaching second base have a fairly easy view of the opposing catcher running through his signs for his pitcher. After seeing this, they’ll relay the information either to the hitter at the plate or the third base coach.
The JT Realmuto-Clayton Kershaw sign-stealing moment is a norm in baseball.
This coded and CIA-type of information is far from high tech, and like pitchers using “sticky substances,” it’s something that’s been around for decades. Normally when caught in the act like Realmuto was, you’ll see either the pitcher, catcher, or someone else on the team call for a mound visit. At this moment they’ll either switch up their signs or verbally say what they’re going to throw on the next pitch depending on the situation.
Some hitters without a runner on base to assist them can be a little more blatant when looking for a tip on the next pitch. In the Padres-Dodgers matchup earlier this season, Fernando Tatis Jr. was called out by some for taking a sneak peek just prior to a Trevor Bauer pitch.
I don’t think these examples warrant any sort of policing to the extremes that are now put into place for illegal pitching substances. If a player wants to put themselves out there with the risk of getting caught for getting pitching tips, so be it.
The situation between Realmuto between Kershaw is far from the first, and it certainly won’t be the last time we see this.