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.