'Heavy accusations': Dusty reacts to Tepera

October 12th, 2021

CHICAGO -- After the White Sox 12-6 win in Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday, reliever ignited some controversy by implying that the Astros were stealing signs during the first two games of the series at Minute Maid Park.

And, of course, it became a major topic on Monday, when the game was postponed due to rain but both managers and several players were made available to the media. It started with Tepera’s comments after the Astros struck out 16 times on Sunday after combining to strike out 16 times through the series’ first two games.

Houston was investigated by MLB and found to have stolen signs electronically during the 2017 and ’18 seasons, leading to a $5 million fine, a loss of Draft picks and the suspensions of general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch.

“They’ve obviously had a reputation of doing some sketchy stuff over there,” Tepera said. “It’s just, we can say that it’s a little bit of a difference. I think you saw the swings and misses [Sunday] compared to the first two games at Minute Maid. But that’s not really the story, you know? We come here to play. We’re going to compete. We’re not going to worry about what they’re going to do.”

It became a story, however, and Astros manager Dusty Baker used statistics from the 2021 season to back the argument that the White Sox actually have a bigger discrepancy in their home/road splits than Houston. The White Sox had a .789 OPS at home and a .729 OPS on the road, while the Astros were much more even with a .787 OPS at home and a .780 OPS on the road. Houston had more doubles, homers and RBIs in road games than home games this year.

"Those are heavy accusations," Baker said. "We're about the same [at home] in runs, OPS and everything as we are [on the road]. Well, actually, better on the road than we are at home. And then I think they're actually better at home than they are on the road. And so I don't have much response to that other than I was listening to Eric Clapton this morning, and he had a song, 'Before you accuse me, [take a] look at yourself.' You know what I mean? That's all I got to say."

Astros catcher also chimed in by tweeting, “always good to get extra motivation,” but Baker said he didn’t hear from other players using Tepera’s comments as bulletin-board material.

"I haven't heard anybody even talk about it, to tell you the truth," Baker said. "[Tepera] can say what he wants to say. I never even heard his name before until we played the White Sox. So, no, man. I'm not bothered at all."

Houston third baseman tried to take the high road, saying the Astros were just “focused on winning games.” But he also couldn’t help but make a subtle dig that Houston did score half a dozen runs in the loss on the road.

“They executed pitches and held us to six runs [Sunday], so we gave up a few, more than we scored, and we lost, and you move on,” Bregman said. “You turn the page, and you get ready for the next day.”

White Sox manager Tony La Russa mostly veered away from the subject and said he didn’t hear about his reliever’s comments until he got to the ballpark Monday morning. But La Russa did suggest there could be some rule changes to avoid sign-stealing in the future, including making the runner at second turn his back while the signs are being exchanged. The umpire would then tell the runner when to turn back to home.

"I don't get into that stuff," La Russa said. "I just don't get into it. And I try to realize this is America, and players can say what they want to, and I can say that I don't get into it if I want to. I think that they're a very good team, and they're tough to beat."

Fellow White Sox reliever also downplayed Tepera’s comments but did say some teams are better at relaying signs from second base than others. But he didn’t go as far as saying the Astros are one of those teams.

“We're going to go out there and do our business and change up the signs and do the things we need to do that we do with every team, not just them,” Bummer said. “It doesn't really necessarily concern me too much.”