The ALCS is getting chippy.

Jim Rome
October 17, 2019 - 10:23 am
Houston Astros

USA Today


Game 4 of the ALCS was postponed from last night to tonight. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t news coming from the Yankees and Astros. There was. And it was kind of stupid.

And if it was baseball and something dumb happened, that probably means it involves the code. And it does.

Fresh off the suggestion from Alex Rodriguez that the Astros had discovered something in Luis Severino early in Game 3 that he was tipping pitches, comes more intrigue and allegations of espionage.

According to SNY, the Yankees believe the Astros were stealing signs earlier in the series. Here’s an excerpt from the report: According to three sources, a Yankees coach noticed a whistling sound in the opposing dugout on certain pitches on Saturday night in Houston. The Yankees started yelling across the field, and people in the dugouts argued back and forth. "The whole dugout was pissed," said one source. "Everyone was chirping."

Listen, there are few sounds more annoying that someone whistling. The only person who enjoys whistling is the person doing the whistling. Whistlers are just like mimes: everyone hates their guts: the most annoying people in the world. Ever hear a whistler and think or even say, dude, that is a bad ass tune, what else you got?? Do you take requests? No. You hate that person. In fact, add that to our list of reasons to go. Someone insults your race or religion, or spits you’re in your face, or threatens you or someone close to you; all universally accepted reasons to go. And so is whistling. 

Anyone who hears whistling is going to be pissed. Anything that hears whistling will be pissed. It even transcends the animal kingdown. I’m not afraid to share this: we have two cats: Cody and Sapphire. I wanted to name them Bombay and Sapphire; but Janet killed that idea. Anyway, super cool dudes. When I met Janet, she had a cat, a beautiful, chunky little Persian: name Allie. Damn. I loved this cat. Who am I kidding, this cat was my best friend in the world. There wasn’t a human being I liked better than that Cat. Just saying.   So chill. So sweet. Loved her. One day I’m kicking it in on the couch, watching a game, and start whistling and I have no idea why. She looks straight up at me: again, super chill, super laid back cat: she’s look up at me, and I give her the old Kirk Cousins you like that!! You like that! So I go right back to whistling a few bars….this old gal jumped on the couch, ran up on me, and Literally bit me in the cheek. Dammenst thing: never scratched or bit anyone or anything. Until I started whistling.  I see you working Allie cat. RIP. Everyone hates whistlers. So I can see where the Yankees were pissed.

But the Yankees beef with the whistling isn't that someone in the Astros dugout was busting out a whistled version of Careless Whisper, it's that it was being done to alert Astro batters about specific pitches. 

The report goes on to state that “According to sources, the Yankees' loud objections on Saturday night led to the Astros cutting the whistling act in Game 2.”

There are a couple of different things to pull apart here. The argument from the Yankees side of things is that the “whistling sound” would be a violation of the unwritten code on sign stealing.

According to the code experts, finding out that a guy is tipping pitches is fine. Stealing signs might even be fine: but it’s how you share the Intel once you get it that matters. 

One unnamed major league executive told SNY: "I would consider whistling a tired act that goes beyond what is acceptable. If the Astros or anyone else was doing it, it would be considered a break in the unwritten rules. I have not been part of any team that used a whistle from the dugout for pitch type or location."

Another coach told SNY: "Baseball, traditionally, doesn't like audio signs. For some reason we are more comfortable with the opposite. So did the Astros go over the line? Probably. But honestly I don't know where to draw the lines anymore."

So there’s the argument about what is and isn’t okay, and what is over the line and what’s not over the line, but then again, even people in the game don’t know where the lines are.  So it’s ok to pick signs.  It’s ok to pick signs and tell your teammates what they are: just don’t whistle whatever Intel you’ve picked up. Oh…ok. 

Here’s the other point with that report that I read you and I’ll read you one sentence again: According to three sources, a Yankees coach noticed a whistling sound in the opposing dugout on certain pitches on Saturday night in Houston.

And then I’ll remind you that there was no whistling in Game 2.

Now, for the record, the Astros were shutout 7-0 in Game 1. And they won Games 2 and 3. So exactly what are they complaining about? Something that got the Stros hammered in game one!?

It’s not just a matter of the Yankees being bitter that they’re down 2-1 in the series and coming up with excuses. The excuse comes from a game that they won. Not only did they win it, they dominated it.

Houston had three hits in Game 1. And zero runs. So the Yankees are allegedly complaining about a team allegedly stealing signs in a game where they had three hits and zero runs? And then they allegedly stopped doing it and won the next two games?

So is the allegation that the Astros cheated in the game where they got smoked and they didn’t cheat in the two games they won? That’s one of the weirdest allegations ever. 

To read that report, you'd think the Houston Astros were the New England Patriots when it came to espionage. Until you realize they did it in a game where they got completely shut down. .

Based on that, if I’m Aaron Boone and the Yankees, instead of complaining that the Astros were whistling, I’d complain that they stopped. I’d want the Astros dugout whistling in every game. What did it get them? Besides shut out. 

So you tell me – are the Yankees right or are they paranoid? Or are they right to be paranoid?

Again, figuring out that someone is tipping is fine. That’s on the pitcher and the catcher to self-scout and eliminating tipping.

Because if you tip, the Astros will find you. They figured out Yu Darvish in the World Series. They figured out Tyler Glasnow in the NLDS. They might have figured out Luis Severino in Game 3.

As AJ Hinch said: "If they don't want to tip their pitches, then they should take consideration into doing the same thing over and over again.''

Do the Astros notice things? It sure seems like they do. Do they steal signs and then whistle about it? I don’t know.

But I do know they’re in the Yankees heads. They’re so far inside there, the Yankees are complaining about things that might have actually helped the Yankees.

It’s Zack Greinke v. Masahiro Tanaka tonight in a rematch of Game 1. Bring on Game 4 tonight. Bring on the action, bring on the tension, and bring on the paranoia.