Were the Yankees cheating on Opening Day?

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You may have seen Keith Olbermann tweet this picture of Brett Weber, who regularly charts velocity and pitch type from behind home plate for the Yankees, holding up four fingers towards the field during the season opener Thursday against the Tigers.

It seemed more weird than anything else at the time, but it turns out that MLB rules prohibit team employees from using hand signals to communicate pitch types or speeds to players. Who knew?

According to the Associated Press, Brian Cashman confirmed that Joe Garagiola Jr., the senior vice president of standards and on-field operations for MLB, spoke this morning with Yankees vice president and assistant general manager Jean Afterman about the issue. Cashman feels that he has a reasonable explanation for Weber’s actions.

“The scoreboard went down. He was relaying after the fact with his fingers to some hitters who wanted it what the velocity was, pitches to the opposing teams’ hitter, to the guy on deck,” Cashman said. “There’s nothing to hide. We’ve got nothing to hide.”

Furthermore, Cashman said that Weber wears headphones during home games so he can communicate with the scoreboard operator in order to relay pitch information that can be displayed in center field.

Oh, and if you’re calling the Yankees “cheaters,” Cashman has a message for you.

“It’s probably more work talking about than it’s worth,” Cashman said. “The psychotics that obsessed about it all day yesterday, I think we all did ’em a favor by keeping them off the street and preventing them from hurting others.”

For what it’s worth, Weber is not behind home plate for today’s game against the Tigers. That means they’ll have to find some other way to win. You know, like rely on the $200 million worth of talent they have on the field.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.