If You Ain’t Cheatin’, You Ain’t Tryin’

Standard Bullpen Equipment.

If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t trying.  The official motto of the golf scramble.  Go out there and give the boys a pencil whipping of a lifetime. Of course the charity scramble is one of the least honorable sporting events in the World.  Our professional sports leagues we like to think are populated by people with a little more honor.  Maybe the NBA refs are shady, maybe NFL coaches get a little frisky with the videotape, but all in all, it’s a level playing field, right?  Yeah, ok.

This brings me to the Phillies getting accused left and right of stealing signs.  Now, there’s a lot of levels of this.  It’s another one of baseball’s odd unwritten rules, I suppose.  The general consensus is, if you can steal signs in the everyday flow of the game, then you go right ahead and do it.  There are coaches, players, staff, who spend a lot of time looking for tipped pitches or trying to figure out a third base coach’s signs.  They are often successful.  Signs, indicators, that kind of thing get changed multiple times a year.  I saw a video clip once where a third base coach said the most effective set of signs he ever had was based on number of touches.  There was no rhyme or reason to the signs, no indicator, it was all about how many times he touched his face.  It lasted almost the whole season.  Anyway, that’s just a digression I find interesting.

What the Phillies are being accused of, though, falls outside of what people would consider acceptable sign stealing practices.  The Phillies bullpen coach, Mick Billmeyer, has been accused by multiple teams now of looking in at the catcher’s signs from the bullpen with a set of binoculars.  The Phillies official “excuse” is that Billmeyer is using the binoculars to check catcher Carlos Ruiz’s set-up.  You see, Billmeyer is the catching coach as well.  Oh, that explains everything.  The only problem is, the Rockies are saying Billmeyer was using the binoculars during the Phillies at-bats.

Now, what Billmeyer is doing out there could fall across a broad spectrum.  Checking Ruiz could be the initial reason, and from there it could be something innocent like just wondering if he can see the signs, to some diabolical plot that involves the bullpen phone.  I can’t really come up with a scenario where the information could be relayed in time to a hitter, but who knows, really.  In this situation it’s my stance that you don’t want to be accused of anything like this.  It’s unbecoming a first place team.  They probably don’t need this help.  It’s like when the Patriots got caught with the video thing.   Did that help them win, we don’t know for sure, but it casts a little shadow on things, which we don’t want.  So, go to work on the third base coach, whatever, but put the binoculars aways, it’s bush.

One of My Favorite Stories of the Year.

Oh, Glory Days.

I saw this over at Deadspin.  Guerdwich Montimere is 22.  His alter ego, Jerry Josepeh, is just 16.  Montimere, a one-time high school basketball standout from Florida, decided to adopt a new identity, move to Texas and enroll in a high school.  I wasn’t aware that things like this happened in real life.  This is a bad movie plot.  The old guy goes back to high school, no one notices he’s freakishly old, he becomes popular, it’s not weird when the underage girl falls in love with him, that kind of thing.  For Joseph/Montimere to actually pull this off, for a decent amount of time, is pretty amazing.

Montimere had a pretty good back story, told everyone he was from Haiti, no parents, staying with a relative.  And, let’s be honest, they probably don’t do too rigorous testing when a physically mature “15 year-old” shows up at a high school in Texas.  The first question is probably more like, “What positions do you play?”  That’s a joke.  Kind of.  In fact, it was Montimere’s old AAU coach that outed him, had he not been exposed to his past, he theoretically could have pulled this off for a while longer.  The end result being what?  He gives junior college another try?  He heads for New Orleans or Oklahoma or wherever for round three?  At what point would someone say, “You know what, you aren’t 15.”

I wonder if this was a glory grab, or if he was trying to push the reset button on his life, or what?  I can see the appeal in that.  You hit 22, realize you probably should have done a couple of things differently and say, ok I’m going to run this back real quick.  I had my fun.  The second time around High School is serious business.  I have to assume it was more of a glory grab.  People like you more when you are making it rain in high school gyms.

I certainly couldn’t pull off a return to high school, and I probably wouldn’t still be any good at sports.  If I really wanted to dominate again, I’d probably have to go all the way back to T-ball, or something of that nature.  I could still dominate T-ball.  That is a fact.  The sixty foot base paths and everything, that is right up my alley.   Bottom line is, you wouldn’t catch me trying to go back to school.  I still have an occasional dream where I’m back in college or something, and I’ll be thinking about all those damn classes I took.  Then I wake up, and say, thank goodness that is over.

That Wasn’t it For LeBron, Was It?

Oh, Cleveland.

I feel sorry for Cleveland sometimes.  I really do.  It’s my kind heart.  I think I wrote a post about it once, what to make of these sports cities where they just wait for the next terrible thing to happen.  Even though they fall one team short of the four teams worth of misery that we suffered through in Philly for 25 years, Cleveland can hold its own with any town.  The Browns.  The Indians.  That basically sums it up.  The saving grace for the last several years has been LeBron.  They seemed fated to win the lottery for him, and up to this point I’d say LeBron has exceeded expectations in every category except winning titles.  Is that his hump to get over?  The team’s?  The city’s?

The Cavs lost game five at home on Tuesday night, and while I didn’t catch much of the blowout, the early reactions indicate that LeBron had a terrible night at the least opportune time.  Maybe someone can explain to me what is going on in this series.  The same two teams are playing all these games, right?  A few nights back in game 3, on the Celtics home court, the Cavs won by 29.  Tuesday night they lose by 32 at home.  That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  This is a close series, but none of the actual games are close?  What is going on with the Cavs?

The supporting cast has to shoulder a lot of the blame here, don’t they?  The Celtics are riding Rondo, who is channeling Oscar Robertson, but they have a couple of options, more than one guy to carry the load.  Cleveland has been working on this for years, and as recently as late this season they added Antawn Jamison.  The Cavs never win, though, when LeBron has an off night.  They never even seem to be in the game.  Contrast that with the pedestrian effort that Boston has gotten out of Paul Pierce for most of the series, yet they still lead 3-2.   Is that the fault of the other eleven guys, or someone else?  Maybe Mike Brown is at fault.  I have to admit, this guy reminds me of Boris the Bullet Dodger.  He dodges bullets, Avi.  He also maybe should have been fired when the Cavs pulled this the last time?  Or the time before that?

LeBron has to man up, though.  I don’t know if he’s hurting, or what, but 15 points on 3-14 shooting in a critical game five?  That can’t happen.  Not by the guy who is going to be the best player ever.  It’s a little odd to me that everyone has projected championships for LeBron.  The inevitability of that team finally winning the title.  Even before tonight, as a casual observer I had my doubts.  Could they get by Orlando?  What about the teams out West?   As it turns out, they’re in the fight of their life against the Celts.  I don’t see a reason to be optimistic, do you?

So, this could have been it for LeBron in Cleveland.  If free agency ends up taking him to New York, Chicago, wherever, this could be the last performance in front of the home faithful.  What a way to go out.  I always thought that LeBron would stay, but if he did leave I didn’t feel he was breaking any unwritten obligation.  Cleveland was tortured, yes, but they weren’t owed anything.  But I think they’re owed better than what they got Tuesday.   We’ll see if LeBron can make amends.