Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

Clearly the NLCS was too boring. It needed a drama injection.

If you notice Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal going to the mound a fair bit this series, he says it’s because he wants to make sure he and his pitcher are on the same page … without the Chicago Cubs sliding into the communications.

That’s because Grandal thinks the Cubs may have been stealing signs on Saturday.

“All the sudden, [Addison] Russell is not taking good swings at sliders, looking like he’s looking for a fastball and in a certain location,” Grandal told the LA Times. “Did we know [Ben] Zobrist had the signs and was doing something for it? Yeah, we did. That’s why we do it.”

Well, then. You can read more about the Dodgers’ sign-stealing concerns, dating back into the NLDS against the Nationals, here at the LA Times.

Sign-stealing of the variety charged by Grandal is something of an understood and long-standing part of the gamesmanship of baseball, and is the very reason catchers run through a serious of finger signals while runners are on base. Runners on base can see what the catcher is calling and can inform the batter – so the catcher disguises the call. The other team still tries to figure out what is coming, and so it goes. It’s not a huge deal, as far as I’m concerned (and I don’t think Grandal was all that fired up, either), but I know that some pitchers and catchers take great umbrage, and the practice might get a batter buzzed. But if it can be done with human eyes – no technology, no real “cheating” – I don’t have a beef with it.

In this instance, the charge is kind of strange. EDIT: Hey, way to read, Brett. Grandal was talking about the game on Saturday, not last night’s game. What I’d previous written is still below, crossed out as a sign of shame. My apologies.

The only time Russell batted with a runner on base last night was in the 7th inning, with Anthony Rizzo on first base. I’m not entirely sure, then, how Zobrist, who’d struck out before Russell got to the plate, factors into things, but maybe the accusation is that Zobrist was stealing signs from the dugout? And then relaying them to Russell while Russell was staring at Kershaw on the mound? I can’t say I understand how that would work.

And even in that case, Russell didn’t take any sliders in that at bat. Russell took just one slider in the entire game. Maybe Grandal had a name or two mixed up? Or maybe he was talking about the Dodgers gaming the signs to make Russell take a bad swing at a slider he thought was going to be a fastball? (Russell flew out to left on a slider in that 7th inning at bat.)

In any case, this will likely be a whole lot of nothing, but it’s always one of those fun things to discuss.

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