Earlier this week, a story broke through ESPN that the Toronto Blue Jays involved in sign-stealing. Collectively, this doesn't matter a great deal as, barring a miracle, the Jays will miss the playoffs for the umpteenth year in a row. However, individually, it means a bit more.
At the All-Star break, my personal choice for the American League's Most Valuable Player was Jose Bautista, who, like last season, is one of the lone bright spots for a rebuilding Jays team. At said break, Bautista had more home runs that anyone else in the 34-year history of the club and, despite some minor injuries along the way, is still proving that he is an integral part of his team's future success.
However, when the report broke out that the Jays were accused of sign-stealing, it started to put Bautista's credibility in question. To show that there is nothing personal towards Bautista, the same thing can be said for the rest of the lineup, who boasts the largest margin of home runs on home field in the entire Major League.
When the report surfaced, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos adamantly denied the report. According to said report, there was a man wearing a white shirt in the center-field bleachers who would make various signals for various pitches. For example: the man would raise his hand over his head if a changeup pitch was coming.
What is going to happen now is unknown. Personally, I don't see how their can be any truth to this. After all, can the batters really see the man in the outfield seats that clearly? More importantly, though, if this story is deemed to be true, what does this do for Bautista's MVP status? With Gonzalez and Ellsbury in Boston, Cano in New York and Hamilton in Texas, Bautisa may not have won the MVP anyway. That's besides the point, though. Again, if it's true, how much is it going to matter? Not to justify the act of sign-stealing but, like it or not, it's been part of the game for as long as anyone can remember. To question the credibility of Bautista or the entire Jays organization is one thing but the league is going to need very substantial evidence to put a black mark on this team.
Considering my personal bias, I could say to immediately dismiss Bautista's chances at the MVP crown and give it to Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox. That's not exactly fair, though. This story may snowball into one of the biggest headlines of 2011 or it may just fade out with time.
So, regardless of the outcome of this, should Jose Bautista's MVP status (and credibility) be in question? I say no.