Two weeks ago while broadcasting a New York Yankees game former pitcher and current color commentator Rick Sutcliffe said that Alex Rodriguez was giving his teammate Mark Teixeira verbal indicators on where the catcher was setting up behind him while in the box. How exactly Sutcliffe could hear these verbal cues from Rodriguez while up in the television booth I'm not entirely sure.
Not surprisingly both Rodriguez and Teixeira were informed of Sutcliffe's on-air claims and neither were very happy about it. So with Sutcliffe back in town with ESPN to broadcast tonight's latest edition of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, both players took the opportunity to confront Sutcliffe on his accusation before Tuesday night's game.
"Me, Alex and him talked about it," Teixeira told the Daily News, confirming that the conversation took place. "No doubt it's disappointing when someone makes an accusation like that. Whatever. I can't control what they say."
Teixeira said he has known Sutcliffe "for years," adding that he's always considered him to be "a great guy and a great pitcher." Teixeira wouldn't comment any further on the tone of the conversation, although he and Rodriguez were clearly upset with Sutcliffe's words and let the former All-Star know it. Sutcliffe will be part of ESPN's broadcast team for tonight's game.
"You can ask him about it," Teixeira said.
If I were in Teixeira or Rodriguez's shoes I'd probably be pretty upset about this myself, because as I said earlier, how can Sutcliffe have any idea what Rodriguez is saying or whistling from all the way up in the press box? Did he sneak a microphone on him before the game?
On the other hand, I'd get over it pretty quickly because what exactly is the big deal here? I know that the recent allegations that A-Rod tipped pitches to opposing batters in Selena Roberts' book is problematic because he's helping the competition, but aren't teammates supposed to help each other out?
It's not cheating if a player in the on deck circle is signaling where the catcher is. I mean, it's the baseball equivalent of a player yelling "screen!" to a teammate in the NBA to warn him that he's about to run into a screen from another player.
A hitter can just look to see how the outfield is playing him to figure out where the pitcher is going to try to get him out anyway. If he looks out and sees the outfield playing him to pull, then he better look inside. If they're playing him to go the other way, then he better cover the outside portion of the plate.
That's not cheating in any form but rather just being a smart player.