What happens when you take the Dodgers, the Padres and sign stealing and put them all together? You get the biggest ongoing beef in Major League Baseball.
Here's the setup: on Saturday, Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. took Dodgers ace Trevor Bauer deep twice in what ended up being a 5-4 Dodgers win. Tatis celebrated each blast by mocking Bauer's previously-used antics—first by covering his right eye while rounding first base, then by mimicking the "Conor McGregor strut" on the second home run.
After the game, Bauer said he had no problem with Tatis's celebrations, saying that the game needs more of that type of excitement.
“I like it," Bauer said in his postgame press conference. "I think that pitchers that have that done to them and react by throwing at people ... I think it’s pretty soft. If you give up a homer, a guy should celebrate it. It’s hard to hit in the big leagues."
So all seemed well and good—that is, until Sunday, when Bauer publicly took issue with Tatis appearing to peek in at catcher Will Smith's signs just before hitting his second home run. In a tweet, Bauer told Tatis to "just ask daddy nicely next time" if he wanted to know what pitch was coming. Tatis had his own tweet ready in response.
Ahead of Sunday's series finale, it became clear that Bauer was not the only one who took issue with Tatis' apparent sign stealing. When asked about it in his pregame press conference, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts took issue with it, and insinuated that Tatis could be in store for on-field repercussions going forward.
“When you talk about peeking, that’s just not the way you play baseball," Roberts said. "If that is the case, which I don’t know, that’ll be noted.”
When asked to clarify whether he meant adjusting how catchers give signs, Roberts was curt.
"No, that's not what I'm talking about."
In a video posted to his YouTube channel in which he gave his thoughts on Tatis's celebrations and alleged sign stealing, Bauer was also adamant that looking at the catcher's signs was crossing a line, and that type of behavior would likely result in getting hit with a pitch against another opponent.
“That’s the type of stuff that would get you hit in other games," Bauer said. "Now, I’m mild-mannered about it…flip the bat, do all that stuff, fine. If you’re gonna look at the signs, not OK, and if you do it again, the team that you’re playing probably isn’t gonna take too kindly to it, and there might have to be some on-field stuff.”
Based on his Twitter response to Bauer's barb, Tatis doesn't seem too concerned about any retaliation. Nor does it appear that his success relies on knowing what pitch is coming. In his second plate appearance on Sunday, he took Dustin May deep for his fifth home run in his past three games.
Tatis is the first visiting player to homer five times in a three-game span at Dodger Stadium, per MLB's Sarah Langs.
That blast helped set the stage for yet another thrilling showdown between the two teams that San Diego won, 8-7, in 11 innings after trailing 7-1 through the sixth. Tatis scored the game-tying run on an RBI single by Manny Machado, then scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Eric Hosmer.
After meeting seven times in 10 days, the rivals will get a bit of a breather between now and their next matchup. The two teams face off next on June 21 in San Diego.
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