An interesting story broke last night during the Marlins 5-4 come-from-behind defeat of the Atlanta Braves. During the second game of the series in which the Marlins were on their way to scoring 9 runs in consecutive home games against the Braves, the Sports South announcing crew raised the possibility of Miami stealing signs to aid them in the blowouts. This was again mentioned during the series finale by both Rich and Tommy on the Marlins television broadcast and Glenn Geffner’s radio broadcast. They described a situation that included the Braves scanning the crowd for someone sitting in the seats that was tipping the pitches (surely there weren’t so many fans that it took a long time), the Braves battery changing their signs five times, and even searching the home run sculpture in left-center for anyone or camera that could be stealing their signs.
“Just give us a little credit,” he said, after his team completed the three-game sweep Thursday night. “I hadn’t heard anything, but yeah, we’re out there playing the game the right way and guys are battling and competing. That’s how we’re winning ballgames.”
“Actually, I don’t even really think much about it. My focus is on our guys and my team and what we’re doing. We just played a great three-game series and I’m not going to let anything diminish that.”
Rodriguez also mentions that Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez admitted that they were unable to find anything that would suggest the Marlins were using anything illegal or frowned upon to destroy Atlanta’s starting pitching.
Now here is my take on the whole situation. The first problem that I have is that the Braves assume, just because the Marlins bats get hot, that they must be cheating. It is such an elitist mindset that they would even raise the possibility of that. If the Marlins had been any other team, let’s say the Nationals, would they think that Washington would be cheating? I highly doubt it. Even though the Marlins have a .500 record, they must be cheating if they rattle off a couple of high scoring victories.
Second, you don’t hear people raising questions about Aaron Harang. This is a guy who last year posted a 5.40 ERA at 35 years-old. He is a 13 year veteran and over the last 6 years has more seasons of an ERA over 4 than he had seasons under 4 (4-2). This year, he starts 5 games and he has an ERA of 0.85. This is a 36-year-old pitcher with a career ERA of 4.26. Now sporting an ERA of 0.85? I guess their must be magic water in Atlanta right? I didn’t hear Marlins media questioning if Harang’s sudden rejuvenation was due to something unsavory. I didn’t see Mike Redmond heading out to home plate to request a check of Harang to see if he had any foreign substance on him to help his pitches suddenly move more.
It is astounding to me that Atlanta can be so prideful that they can be shocked by a team like the Marlins playing well against them. Atlanta’s starting rotation was decimated by injuries to start the season, so much so that I didn’t think they would have enough pitching to get them to the playoffs. Instead, they have gotten excellent performances from pitchers like Alex Wood, David Hale, and Ervin Santana. I am not saying that these pitchers are bad pitchers, but I would suggest regression to eventually catch up to them, just like I would expect an occasional outlier performance or two from the Marlins to actually score some runs against the Braves, a team they have notoriously struggled against in the past. This regression doesn’t mean that someone was, or is, cheating, merely that baseball is a difficult sport played by talented individuals and people make adjustments.
This type of attitude by the Braves only further cements their commanding hold on
winning whining in the Major Leagues. My message to Atlanta, grow up, and take your losses with some sportsmanship. Or is that not one of the “unwritten rules”?