June 3, 2023

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Aaron Judge Yankees ‘unhappy’ about hint of cheating on Blue Jays broadcast

TORONTO — A day after a Blue Jays broadcast caught New York Yankees star Aaron Judge throwing a suspicious look to the side during a game, the MLB’s MVP revealed he was “unhappy” by suggesting he could have acted inappropriately. Prior to Tuesday’s game, Judge was asked again about the situation and said he had some “chosen words” for the Blue Jays announcers, but he would “keep that casual.”

“Especially with the stuff that’s happened in this game with cheat stuff, to put it mildly, I’m not happy with that,” said Judge, who was booed by the Rogers Center crowd during his first two attacks. “But people can say whatever they want. I still have a game to play, I have things to do. I told you guys what happened and everyone else can write their own story about it if they want to.”

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays acknowledged that they had to remain vigilant about their players, especially their pitchers and catchers, and not hold the opposition away from oncoming pitches. But Toronto also opposed hiring Yankees base coaches and contacted Major League Baseball about it Tuesday morning, according to manager John Schneider. MLB is not investigating the matter, but Schneider said the league “will take care of it.”

“What’s fair is fair, I think,” said Schneider, as the fallout continued at the Rogers Center. “If our guys are conceding things, we’ve got to be better at it. I think if things are being picked up from people who aren’t where they should be, that’s where I think the line should be drawn.”

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Schneider explained that he was referring to the Yankees’ first and third base coaches standing outside designated boxes painted on either side of the foul lines. Tensions remained high in the third inning on Tuesday when Blue Jays called Yankees third base coach Luis Rojas to where he was standing in connection with the third base box.

“It’s easy to look at the runner on the second when you’re hitting, it’s hard to look at the dugout,” Schneider said, “and it’s probably a little easier to look at the coach and I think there are squares on the field for a reason and I think when it’s a stark 30 feet where you’re not in that place, You put two and two together a bit.”

Yankees coach Aaron Boone confirmed that his club has been in contact with MLB, adding that the league does not believe any rules have been broken. “There won’t be any kind of investigation because nothing happened last night that was against the rules,” Boone said.

During the eighth inning of the Yankees’ 7-4 victory over the Blue Jays on Monday, Sportsnet cameras showed Judge glancing sideways during a game against Blue Jays reliever Jay Jackson. Blue Jays broadcasters Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez noted that Judge did this more than once and wondered out loud what he was looking at before Judge hit a home run 462 feet above the center field wall on a 3-2 hanging slider.

After the game, Judge explained that he was looking in his stash because his teammates were continuing to tweet after Boone was sacked by home plate umpire Clint Vondrak moments earlier.

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In the aftermath of the 2017 Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, MLB teams have become hyper-conscious about other clubs trying to gain an advantage. But gathering information — or stealing cues — from your opponent between the white lines has always been a part of baseball, especially if the opponent isn’t careful enough. This situation between two opponents in the competitive pitch highlights the game within the game and what constitutes fair gamer statesmanship — a runner on second base fists, for example — and what crosses a line, such as using technology to help predict pitches, which was a case of the Astros.

“The fairness of the game is very important, and people are always trying to look for competitive advantages,” Schneider said. “If you’re doing things in plain sight, I think you have to be able to get it right and you have to be willing to take the consequences as they come.”

Boone added, “I think most people who know, they know there’s nothing out there. I’m sure that’s going to be the prevailing wisdom as it unfolds. I understand the hype around it, but I think we’re all in the game and you guys covering it, you understand that no Something is happening here.”

The Pitch Com app — which Jackson and catcher Alejandro Kirk were using on Monday — has largely eliminated teams’ ability to steal cues. But searching for other narratives, such as location based on catcher’s setup, other inclinations or pitcher’s grip, happens all the time. Asked if he thought Kirk might have provided information inadvertently, Schneider said, “Not for my eyes.”

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The Blue Jays confirmed a day later that the judge’s glancing to the side during the game was “bizarre” and there are people around the game who think his explanation stretches credibility. Schneider was asked if he had bought the judge’s explanation.

“I’m not in the business of buying post-game media,” he said. “Again, he’s a really fine hitter, he won Player of the Year last year and I know he means nothing but work and wants to win. I found it a little funny that he was worried about his dugout while he was in the batsman’s box.”

The Blue Jays and Yankees played game two of a four-game series on Tuesday as the two rivals continue to vie for a spot in the hotly contested American League East.

“I think we respect them. They respect us,” Schneider said. “And it’s fun to compete against them.”

Athletic Brendan Cotey contributed to this report.

(Aaron Judge top photo: Cole Burston/Getty Images)