There’s a long list of brothers who’ve had overlapping careers in the major leagues, from Hank and Tommie Aaron to Felipe, Matty, and Jesus Alou to B.J. and Justin Upton. In fact, Baseball-Almanac lists over 350 groupings of related players, of which the Astros’ Yuli Gurriel and Blue Jays’ Lourdes Gurriel Jr. are only one of the most recent. Although the brothers have yet to play on the same MLB roster, they still found a way to make history together after recording separate multi-homer performances for their respective teams on Friday — a first for any set of brothers in major league history.
Both brothers kicked off their performances with moonshots in the first inning. Lourdes pounced on a 99.1-MPH fastball from the Rays’ Diego Castillo and parked it 450 feet away in the center field seats of Rogers Centre, while Yuli muscled a 368-footer out to right field in Minute Maid Park for a grand slam, his second of the year.
In the fourth inning, with the Blue Jays hanging onto a one-run lead, Lourdes returned with another solo shot, this one a 415-foot drive off of rookie lefty Jalen Beeks. He tacked on another base hit in the sixth and finished his night 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI.
Yuli, meanwhile, saved his final home run for the third inning. Backed by a 4-0 lead over the Angels, the result of his first-inning heroics, he crushed a curveball from lefty reliever Andrew Heaney and drove in Marwin Gonzalez to boost the Astros’ advantage to six runs. Like his brother, he also added another base hit to his total for the night and finished 3-for-4 with seven RBI. Of course, there was one perk Yuli got that his younger brother didn’t — bragging rights after the Astros clinched a playoff spot with their 11-3 win over the Angels.
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.