The 2016 National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers already was intriguing. And now, it appears there’s some gamesmanship going on.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal said following Los Angeles’ 1-0 win in Game 2 of the NLCS on Sunday that his team knows the Cubs have been stealing signs. It wasn’t an issue in Game 2, as only one Cubs baserunner reached second base, but there apparently were points in Game 1 — like in the eighth inning when Addison Russell worked a 3-0 count against Joe Blanton with Ben Zobrist on second base — where Grandal was aware that something was up.
“All the sudden, Russell is not taking good swings at sliders, looking like he’s looking for a fastball and in a certain location,” Grandal said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Did we know Zobrist had the signs and was doing something for it? Yeah, we did. That’s why we do it.”
Truth be told, this isn’t really a big deal. Teams try to pick up on their opponents’ signs all the time, and it’s up to the team being hijacked to adjust and make sure it doesn’t become a problem.
As such, Grandal doesn’t seem too concerned about the Cubs’ alleged sign-stealing. He realizes it’s his job to ensure baserunners standing at second base can’t relay to the hitter what pitches are coming.
“We are literally paranoid when it comes to men on second and they are trying to get signs,” Grandal said, per the Los Angeles Times. “We know who is getting the signs. We know what they’re doing. We know what they do to get it. In the playoffs, one relayed sign could mean the difference between winning the World Series and not getting there.
“That’s why we have four or five different sets of signs, and we’re constantly changing.”
We’d toss this in the “nothing to see here” basket, but it’s another layer within a fascinating series. And it goes to show just how much every single detail is studied when the calendar flips to October.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images