Cheating accusations are suddenly all the rage in baseball.
Just a day after news broke of the Boston Red Sox’s elaborate scheme to steal signs from other teams using an Apple Watch, the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics had a brief confrontation Thursday about a similar tactic – this time without help of technology.
The exchange resulted in A’s rookie third baseman Matt Chapman getting ejected by home plate umpire Mike Everitt, although it did not keep Oakland from earning a 3-1 victory that snapped its losing streak at eight games.
When Chapman stepped up to the plate in the fourth inning, he and Angels catcher Juan Graterol engaged in a conversation that prompted Everitt to intervene and separate them. Everitt then lectured Chapman, who kept talking and was tossed.
Two innings earlier, Graterol had warned outfielder Mark Canha against peeking back at his signs to the pitcher, which is not technically illegal but is deemed a violation of baseball etiquette.
“He told me, ‘We’re not looking at the signs,’’’ Graterol said of Chapman. “I said, ‘I believe you are because I saw it.’ That was it. Then he talked back to the umpire after the umpire told him it was over, and that’s when he ejected him, because he didn’t shut up.’’
Chapman acknowledged he continued pressing his argument, believing he needed to make his point because Graterol was constantly looking for any indication that A’s hitters were peeking.
“That’s not a very comfortable feeling having the catcher stare at you when you’re digging into the box,’’ Chapman said. “A little disrespectful, to be honest, so when I got into the box I just let him know that we weren’t stealing their signs and that there was no need for him to be staring at us. ... He obviously didn’t take kindly to those words, and the umpire said that it had been handled and he came in between us and that’s when things came together and then obviously the rest is history.’’
Thursday’s incident won’t generate anywhere close to the attention bestowed on the New York Yankees’ accusation against the Red Sox, first reported Tuesday by the New York Times and now the subject of an MLB investigation. But it provides another example of the extent teams will go to in pursuit of an edge, regardless of their spot in the standings.
The Angels are half a game off the second wild card in the American League, while the A’s are buried deep in the AL West cellar.
Both Graterol and Chapman said they were standing up for their teammates, with Chapman making the point that the youthful A’s won’t allow other clubs to push them around.
Canha said Graterol had also stared down rookie utilityman Chad Pinder during an at-bat in an attempt to intimidate him.
“When they did it to Pinder earlier I was like, ‘That’s a (manager Mike) Scioscia/Angels/Graterol tactic to make young players feel uncomfortable or something,’’’ Canha said. “They’re just trying to get in my head.’’