Jarrod Saltalamacchia on sign-stealing accusations: “You kind of sit back and laugh a little bit.”

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Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia responded to the Braves’ recent accusations of stealing signs after being swept in a three-game series in Miami. The Marlins outscored the Braves 23-7, a far cry from the four runs they scored when they lost two of three to the Braves in Atlanta earlier in the week.

Braves starter Aaron Harang, who entered the game with a 0.85 ERA but was hammered for nine runs in 4 2/3 innings, said, “It was baffling, like, where were these guys last week? They were way too comfortable. It seemed like they were all hitting like Ted Williams.”

All Salty can do is laugh. Via MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro:

“I think the Marlins have kind of been a punching bag almost for the past few years, because of things that have happened,” said Saltalamacchia, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday. “It doesn’t bother us, as far as we go. We’ve got to go out there and control what we can control.

“At the same time, as a player, you kind of sit back and laugh a little bit. From my perspective, I like it. I think they’re focusing on the wrong things. For them to focus on what we’re doing, and ‘Are we stealing signs? Are we doing this?’ That means they’re not focusing on what they should be focusing on. That kind of gives us an advantage.”

The Braves are certainly not the only team to accuse an opponent of stealing signs. The Rockies accused the Phillies in 2010. The Yankees accused the Blue Jays in 2011. The Orioles accused the Blue Jays again in 2012. The Athletics accused the Yankees last season. But there’s only so much you can do with stolen signs and the Braves’ series sweep at the hands of the Marlins had much more to do with their own poor performance than any edge allegedly gained by impropriety.

But it’s been a common thread with the Braves lately — of blaming others without introspection. They have become the baseball police, arbiters of fun, deciders of “the right way” to play the game. They can only complain so often before everyone starts to tune them out. Perhaps it’s already begun.

Astros defend barring reporter from clubhouse

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As we wrote about this morning, last night the Houston Astros, at the request of Justin Verlander, barred Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse during Verlander’s media availability following the Tigers-Astros game. After Verlander was done talking to the press in the scrum setting — and after a call was placed to Major League Baseball about the matter — Fenech was allowed in.

As we noted, this was done in violation of agreements to which Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Baseball Writers Association of America are parties. The agreements are meant to ensure full access to BBWAA-accredited reporters as long as they have not violated the terms of their credentials.  In no case do the clubs — and certainly not the players — have the right to bar access to BBWAA-accredited reporters. Indeed, the whole point of the BBWAA is to ensure such access and to ensure that teams cannot bar them simply because they are unhappy with their coverage or what have you.

This morning Verlander tweeted, obliquely, about “unethical behavior” on the part of Fenech that led to his request to the Astros to bar him. As we noted at the time, such an allegation — however interesting it might be — is of no consequence to the admission or barring of a reporter. If Fenech has acted unethically it’s a matter between him and his employer and, potentially, between him and the BBWAA. At the very least, if Verlander has a specific concern, it would be incumbent upon him or the Astros to take the matter up with either the Free Press or the BBWAA.

In light of all of this, it’s hard to make a case for Verlander’s request and the Astros’ honoring it. A few moments ago, however, the Astros released as statement on the matter which, basically, says, “so what?”

Which is to say, the Astros have made a decades-long agreement between the BBWAA and MLB regarding reporter access optional, because a player does not like a reporter who is covering him.  Someone without the power to alter the BBWAA-MLB relationship has just done so unilaterally. And they have done so in such a way that any player, should they decide they don’t like a reporter, will now presumably rely on it as precedent. Finally, it should be noted that in issuing this statement, the Astros have given at least some tacit credence to Verlander’s thus far unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Fenech, which seems less-than-ideal at best.

It’s your move, Major League Baseball and BBWAA. Whatcha gonna do about it?