As the Yankees and Astros prepare for Game 4 of the ALCS on Thursday night, pitch tipping and sign stealing have become two of the hot topics surrounding the series.
It was reported by SNY's Andy Martino that the Yankees were not happy about a whistling sound coming from the Astros' dugout in Game 1. Martino then confirmed that an MLB investigation found no wrong doing by the Astros.
On Thursday, Astros manager AJ Hinch as about sign stealing on the first question of his pregame interview, and Hinch had plenty to say on the topic.
"Man, I'm glad you asked that question, and I thought it would come up today. We talked about this the other day, and in reality, it's a joke, but Major League Baseball does a lot to ensure the fairness of the game," said Hinch. "There's people everywhere, if you go through the dugouts and the clubhouses and the hallways, there's like so many people around that are doing this. Then when I get contacted about some questions about whistling, it made me laugh because it's ridiculous. Had I known that it would take something like that to set off the Yankees or any other team, we would have practiced it in spring training, because apparently it works even when it doesn't happen."
The Yankees won Game 1 7-0 in Houston behind another strong postseason outing by Masahiro Tanaka, and Hinch pointed to the Astros' lack of production in the game.
"To me, I understand the gamesmanship, I understand kind of creating a narrative for yourself or wondering how things are going," Hinch continued. "Now the game in question, we got three hits and no runs. Nobody heard it. You guys have audio, video, people in places and there's no evidence of anything. To the Yankees, there's nothing bad going on."
On the topic of pitch tipping, though, Hinch explained that deciphering what pitch a pitcher is about to throw based on any giveaways is perfectly within the realm of what all teams are looking to do.
"Pitch tipping is a little bit of a different story," said Hinch. "If you don't want us to know the pitches coming, don't do anything that demonstrates what pitch you're going to pitch or what you're going to throw, but they're doing the same thing. Every hitter wants to know what's coming, by virtue of what a pitcher is doing or not doing."
The Astros manager also voiced frustration in the fact that unnamed sources were providing information about the things going inside the dugout.
"The problem that I have is when other people take shots at us outside this competition," he explained. "When you guys ask me this question, my face, my name is by my quotes. My opinions, my reactions are all for you guys to tweet out and put on the broadcast, but when we have people that are unnamed or you guys have sources that are giving you information, I suggest they put their name by it if they're so passionate about it to comment about my team of my players.
"There's nothing going on other than the competition on the field. The fact that I had to field questions about it before a really, really, cool game at Yankee Stadium is unfortunate, but we can put it to rest. That will be the last question I answer about pitch tipping or pitch stealing.
Justin Verlander, who will get the start for the Yankees in Game 5 on Friday, also touched on the subject.
"It sucks for our players because those guys are so talented and I don't think anything should take away from what they're able to accomplish. So in that aspect it's disappointing, but I think we know what's going on," said Verlander. "Look at what we're getting accused of. How many runs did we score in that first game? But I understand where the paranoia comes from. We have it, I have it, as far as tipping and signs. I mean, I'll be using multiple signs here tomorrow night. There's just so many cameras and there's so much video now."
Yankees skipper Aaron Boone was also asked about sign stealing accusations prior to Thursday's Game 4, and he gave a very brief answer, saying that there are definitely certain things that could fall outside the rules of the game.
"Sure there are boundaries," said Boone. "There are things you're not allowed to do and things that are perfectly within the context of the game."