Sportress of Blogitude

Justin Verlander ripped sign stealing in 2017 before joining Astros

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander is presumably basking in the afterglow of Wednesday’s announcement that he’s won his second career Cy Young Award.

Unfortunately for the ace, some critical comments he made during the 2017 season about sign stealing have been brought to light this week. Suffice to say, Verlander’s thoughts on the act amid the allegations surrounding the Astros’ ongoing sign-sealing scandal are a bit awkward.

It must be first highlighted that Verlander’s condemnation of teams that steal signs occurred before he was traded by the Detroit Tigers to the Astros on Aug. 31, 2017. That said, Verlander was part of the team that won a World Series later that year, allegedly while employing said sign-stealing practices.

With that said, what follows is what Verlander had to say about stealing signs early on during the 2017 season.

“We don’t have somebody, but I’m sure teams have a person that can break down signals and codes and they’ll have the signs before you even get out there on the mound,” Verlander said in a June interview with MLive.com.

“It’s not about gamesmanship anymore. It used to be, ‘Hey, if you can get my signs, good for you.’ In the past, if a guy on second (base) was able to decipher it on a few pitches, I guess that was kind of part of the game. I think it’s a different level now. It’s not good.”

The allegations surrounding how the Astros employed an electronically sophisticated campaign to steal signs during the team’s run to its 2017 World Series title were first brought to light in a piece published this week by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic.

Regardless of whether or not Verlander has or will ever be implicated in being complicit or having knowledge of his team’s sign-stealing scandal, the case can be made his past comments viewed in light of the Astros’ current situation do not have the best optics.

Beyond that, it’s not like Verlander has never been shy about airing his grievances with Major League Baseball, so the fact that he railed against sign-stealing is hardly out of character.