Back in August during a radio interview Tigers manager Jim Leyland accused the A’s of stealing signs:
I still think that they were getting something somewhere. I’m just not believing. I know we made a lot of bad pitches, but I just don’t believe you wear the ball out like that. I’ve seen a lot of games and a lot of series and I’ve seen teams get hot, but I’m a little suspicious that somewhere along the line they were getting something somewhere.
He later backed off those comments, at least publicly, but obviously the A’s still remember. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle followed up on the topic before the two teams match up in the ALDS and here’s what Josh Donaldson told her:
We haven’t stolen a single sign all year. We don’t have a guy in here who even wants a sign–some teams will steal pitch location and we don’t even do that. We laugh when catchers are changing signs because we don’t want them, anyway.
Of course, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a player who says “yeah, we’re constantly stealing signs and everyone on the team would love to have that help all the time.” And if the A’s knock around one of the Tigers’ stud starting pitchers during this series you can be sure Leyland will be asked to revisit the sign-stealing quotes.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.