July 30, 2014

Phillies Get Hand Slapped for Stealing Signs

So that’s how the Phillies do it…they steal the catcher’s signs! 

That’s the interesting little nugget that appeared in Steve Dilbeck’s Dodgers Blog over at the LA Times this morning.  Apparently Philadelphia’s bullpen coach, Mick Billmeyer, was caught on camera looking through a pair of binoculars, trying to read the signs of Colorado Rockies catcher Miguel Olivio.

Per Steve Dilbeck:

“The Phillies cheat! Well, not exactly cheat, but doing something that at a minimum is generally frowned upon, and at a maximum is considered breaking one of the game’s biggest unwritten rules. Stealing signs.”

Steve cites FOX Sports.com’s Hall of Fame writer Tracy Ringolsby, who states that the Phillies have been issued a warning. Per Ringolsby:

“We have looked at the video and talked to the Phillies about the actions of their bullpen coach,’’ a Major League Baseball official told FOXSports.com.

“We found the evidence inconclusive on what was being done, but we have spoken to the Phillies about the situation, and the umpires have been told to be on full alert as to what is going on.’’

Ringolsby goes on to say that there actually may be a second complaint about the Phillies on this same issue, and the other team is the New York Mets.

Look, we all know that professional coaches and players look to get any edge they can over their opponents (remember Bill Belichick’s sideline spying scandal?).

Jeffri Chadiha at ESPN.com had a great article back in 2007 showing how far teams will push the limits on what’s acceptable:

“Kansas City Chiefs coach Herm Edwards uses a familiar message to end the speech he gives his team on Saturday nights before games. Although he can be notoriously loquacious, Edwards refrains from drawing upon predictable clichés or gimmicky references in such moments. Instead, he delivers a brief, pointed statement that leaves his players knowing exactly what their responsibilities are. “I tell them to do whatever it takes to get ready to play,” Edwards said. “As long as it’s legal, I want them to do it.”

The operative phrase here is “as long as it’s legal.” Although Edwards isn’t encouraging his players to break rules, he does emphasize that they need to understand a simple tenet of survival in the NFL: Gamesmanship, even if it falls into the category of cheating, is a way of life. In other words, if a man isn’t looking for a way to gain an advantage, he’s really courting plenty of heartache. Losing in the NFL is bad enough. To lose without using everything at your disposal, well, that’s a fate nobody wants to accept.”

Now back to the issue at hand.  A presumebly bored bullpen coach trying to check out Colorado’s signs isn’t that big a deal in my book, but the fact that he’s using a pair of binoculars?  Come on, my man, you deserve to get caught if you’re going to be so obvious about it!

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