In first start since no-hitting Twins, Jered Weaver to face … the Twins

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Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire didn’t enjoy Jered Weaver’s no-hitter against his Twins last Wednesday.

Gardenhire paced behind his desk while addressing reporters after the game, the picture painted by Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune showing the manager in a slow burn, using great effort to avoid blowing up. I’m guessing he looked something like this.

That’s understandable. It’s been a long season already for the Twins (and it’s only May 7), who enter the week with the worst record in baseball (7-20). Being no-hit by a great pitcher is one thing, but Gardenhire was unhappy with his team’s pitching, lack of aggression and lack of attention to detail.

He said the Twins’ performance was “not acceptable,” and that his team looked “like Little Leaguers out there, and that’s a bunch of bull.”

Gardenhire missed the Twins’ series in Seattle over the weekend. Not because he needed a break – though that’s entirely possible – but because he returned to Minneapolis for his daughter’s graduation from Southwest Minnesota State.

He returns to manage his club on Monday night, and hopefully his weekend was relaxing because waiting for the Twins will be the Los Angeles Angels with – you guessed it – Jered Weaver on the mound.

Monday night will be Weaver’s first start since his no-hitter, and if you don’t know anything about Johnny Vander Meer, you might want to click here and study up.

The odds of Weaver tossing consecutive no-hitters are essentially zero. There’s no way he’ll be as focused, as sharp and as lucky as he was last week. And as bad as the Twins offense is – they managed just one hit on Saturday against Felix Hernandez and a lone Mariners reliever —  they’re still a bunch of big leaguers like Joe Mauer and Denard Span and Josh Willingham.

Still, as favorable a scheduling occurrence this is for Weaver, it is equally unlucky for Ron Gardenhire’s Twins.

Serenity now, Skip. Serenity now.

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MLB to crack down on sign stealing

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We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.

As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.

Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.

As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.

While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.

Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.