By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Red Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie wants Manny Machado to know that he knows what he's up to. It's no surprise that the Red Sox and Dodgers would try to steal signs with their baserunners. But apparently, in Machado's case it's just blatantly ovbvious.
Speaking to Bleacher Report's Scott Miller, LeVangie spoke in detail about what he saw from Machado while he was on second base during the fourth inning of Game 2 of the World Series. Offensively, it was by far the most productive inning of the game for the Dodgers against David Price. LeVangie believes it was partially because Machado was clearly relaying signs to Yasiel Puig and Kike Hernandez during the rally.
"I wish I would have gone out there before the [Yasiel] Puig at-bat, before he came up in that situation, because I saw the whole thing," said LeVangie. Puig flaired a go-ahead base hit off Price during the inning, turning on a fastball up-and-in with seeming ease. Price did strike out Hernandez, but only after nine pitches.
Per Bleacher Report, Machado made all kinds of exaggerated gestures while taking his lead off second base.
As Price was coming set, Machado, leading off from second, would place his hands on his hips. Then, just before each pitch, Machado would begin a series of motions: touching his helmet with either his right or left hand, sometimes then touching or pulling the script on his jersey afterward and other times grabbing or touching the thigh/groin area of his pants.
LeVangie visited with Price after the Puig hit, in part to clue the lefty in on Machado's sign-stealing.
"I had a clear point I wanted to [make] after that at-bat because I saw Manny the entire time. I knew what he was doing," said LeVangie.
This certainly sounds like excuse-making for a shaky inning from Price. But LeVangie wanted to make it clear that he's not necessarily accusing Machado or the Dodgers of cheating.
"Oh, it's clean," he said. "It's baseball. If you're not hiding your stuff with a runner on second base and you're giving them a free view, that's on you, the pitcher and the catcher. It's up to the pitcher and catcher to manage that and to us to oversee it and make sure we're going about it the right way.
"We see this all the time. Not just him, with everyone. We are very respectful of all this, and it's a big part of who we are and what we try to manage. As far as our pitching staff, we want to make sure we control those guys at second base and [that] they're not stealing our signs. We're changing our signs constantly, every pitch. Typically, every one of our pitchers will change every pitch."
Sign-stealing in baseball has for a long time been Part Of The Game™. It's when teams use electronic devices or other aids, like the Red Sox' Apple Watch controversy last year and the Astros' curious use of a photographer during the ALCS, that it starts to go beyond the acceptable limits of the rules.
Teams essentially know they're going to do it. Just maybe don't be so blatant about it, like Machado apparently was. It's like Michael Pineda slathering his neck in pine tar. Just don't be obvious and we won't call you out.
LeVangie's message to Machado is simple. Don't insult our intelligence. Relay signs if you must, just don't make such transparent gestures. You can reasonably expect this minor controversy to spill over to Games 3 and 4 at Dodger Stadium.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].