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March 8, 2012

The BP First Take

Thursday, March 8

by Daniel Rathman

There was not a whole lot of bad blood between the Giants and Angels coming out of the 2002 World Series, and a decade later, the wounds inflicted on this then-12-year-old fan have mostly healed. The sight of a rally monkey still makes me cringe, but there is no longer any internal debate as to which Los Angeles-area franchise I find less tolerable.

Wednesday’s tiff between Angels scout Jeff Schugel and Giants manager Bruce Bochy won’t do much to change that, but it does raise the issue of talent evaluators’ access to other teams’ facilities. Bochy told CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly that he was putting his players through a “fundamental drill,” and intimated that rival scouts have no place at such activities.

This was not a Major League Baseball parallel to the National Football League’s “Spygate” incident—Schugel was not attempting to hide his presence—but according to Baggarly’s report, the incident is not an isolated one. Diamondbacks skipper Kirk Gibson also had scouts removed from a drill session in recent days.

Interestingly, just hours after Bochy told ballpark security to give Schugel the boot, general manager Brian Sabean said that the team would welcome evaluators to its facilities at any time. Bochy, on the other hand, was unapologetic.

Sabean’s statement likely served a twofold purpose of smoothing things over with the Angels and ensuring that Giants scouts would be given similar privileges while on assignment at other teams’ camps. Based on comments from Schugel and general manager Jerry DiPoto, the Halos have long adhered to such a policy, allowing anyone from fans to rival personnel to watch practices and pregame activities.

Ultimately, what matters here is consistency. If teams want their scouts to be granted access to other organizations’ camps, then they should be equally transparent when it comes to their own practices. A clearer, standardized policy implemented or reiterated on a league-wide level might be useful, but misunderstandings like the one that occurred in Scottsdale on Wednesday can just as easily be resolved by following the Golden Rule.

From an outsider’s perspective, an open-door relationship between teams seems desirable, particularly considering that—unlike football, where players rely on calls and signs to influence every decision—there is little need for secrecy in baseball apart from baserunning and pitcher-catcher communication. If the result of Wednesday’s incident is greater access for fans and scouts, the league as a whole will be better for it.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

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