Accusations of sign stealing at center of on-field argument between skippers
BALTIMORE -- As the playoff races heat up, emotions boiled over between the Orioles and Yankees on Monday night, with managers Buck Showalter and Joe Girardi engaging in a heated on-field exchange that involved accusing Baltimore of sign stealing.
The incident -- which briefly caused both benches to empty -- took place after the first inning of Baltimore's 4-2 win over New York, with Showalter coming out of the home dugout to yell at Girardi, although the Yankees' skipper had already made his complaint known to Orioles third-base coach Bobby Dickerson. Showalter, who had to be restrained by the umpires as he came out angrily, pointing and shouting, "That's not right, Joe," took particular exception to the fact that Dickerson was getting accused.
"Somebody's wearing black and orange, I'm not going to let that happen," Showalter said of the accusations. "I know Bobby Dickerson pretty well, and so I knew Bobby might have something to say on his way back to the dugout. And he did."
Dickerson, a first-year coach on Showalter's staff, said the yelling from the visiting dugout started immediately when he got out there, and it took him a few minutes to realize what was going on.
What were Girardi's words?
"'I know what you're doing'," Dickerson said. "Yelling it, body language, pointing at me. That's it. And I'm a grown man, that's all. I don't see why he was yelling at me. I just said, 'You don't know anything. You don't even know me to be yelling at me.'
"I assumed it [was about stealing signs], I guess, after. I was still trying to figure what happened. [Leadoff batter] Nick [Markakis] was just batting. As a matter of fact, the ball was in the air and going off the wall when we were having our first exchange."
Both Dickerson and Showalter adamantly denied the Orioles were stealing signs, although Showalter didn't take particular exception to the accusation so much as a member of his coaching staff taking the verbal lashing.
"I think when people are at second base you, or we, constantly change our signs with them and the other clubs that you see a lot in our division," Showalter said. "Obviously, we're not, in our mind, it's not happening so … it was something in our dugout our guys were wondering what in the world [the exchange] was all about. Because, obviously, [sign stealing] wasn't happening."
Girardi declined to even confirm his accusations, telling reporters after the game only that he was trying to look out for his team.
"The one thing that I've done, the whole time that I'm here, and everywhere I've been, is I'm going to protect our players at all lengths," he said. "That's what I'm going to do, and there was something that I saw, and I'm just going to leave it at that."
Yankees catcher Austin Romine said that he was too involved in the game to know why Girardi and Showalter were arguing, but added that he asked someone on the Yankees' bench if his signs had been visible.
"They said no," Romine said. "I knew I was doing my job and not letting them see my signs. I mean, everybody's trying to steal signs. I wouldn't be surprised if they were, but I really don't know what was going on. No one even said anything to me.
"I saw our manager out on the field, so you go out there and you stand behind him. I don't really need to know what was going on, I just knew my manager was out on the field. You go out there and you stand behind him."
Asked if he would reach out to Showalter, Girardi reiterated he was going to "leave it at that", while Showalter said, even if he was planning to talk to Girardi, he wouldn't broadcast it through the media.
"I gained a lot of respect for Joe over the last couple of years, especially when he was going through the thing with his dad last year in the playoffs," he said. "Two competitive, good teams, and we're fighting for the same thing, so there's a small margin for error. I look at those things the first 10 or 15 pitches every night. There's certain little check points. I go around the field to see if everything's in order before you get into the game. But Bobby's not giving pitches."
Following the yelling, the benches briefly emptied with order restored after several minutes and no ejections issued. Orioles starter Chris Tillman, who was informed of a general warning to both teams before he opened the second inning, said he -- like some of his teammates -- were baffled as to what was going on in the rare on-field manager spat.
"I don't get into theatrics or whatever," Showalter said. "If I feel something, I'll express it. Simple as that. And Joe will, too. I don't get into the history or the protocol. I could give a you-know-what less. It strikes a chord in me and I stand accused. And so does Joe. We've got two good teams and we're competing for something very special with 19 or 20 games left, and nobody's going to apologize here for caring about giving both of our teams the best chance to win."