Do stolen signs explain the Orioles' struggles in Toronto?

August 10, 2011|By Matt Vensel

The Orioles have struggled mightily when playing the Blue Jays in Toronto over the past five seasons. The Orioles are 12-42 at Rogers Center since 2006, including a 16-game losing streak they snapped this season. They aren't alone, though; the Blue Jays are 12 games above .500 at home over the past season and a half.

But according to an ESPN report, the Jays may have had an unfair home-field advantage in recent years.

According to accusations from a handful of players on one American League team, the Blue Jays have been stealing signs from their competitors and relaying them to their hitters through a man dressed in white who stands in the bleachers at Rogers Centre. You can read how the operation works -- allegedly -- at this link.

ESPN backed up its reporting with statistical analysis. The Blue Jays hit 146 home runs in Toronto in 2010, which was seven shy of the all-time home record, but their opponents didn’t experience a similar spike. Many Toronto players, including home run machine Jose Bautista, fared uncannily better at Rogers Center than they did on the road. Bautista hit 33 home runs at home last season and 21 elsewhere. All but 10 of Vernon Wells' 31 homers came at home.

The Blue Jays have denied the allegations in the ESPN report, and I hesitate to blame stolen signals for the Orioles’ struggles in Toronto. After all, the Orioles struggle in a lot of places, including Camden Yards.

But if you’re looking for a reason for all those O’s losses, go ahead and add it to the list of possibilities.

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