May 12, 2010, 8:16 AM EDT
Tracy Ringolsby reports that Major League Baseball has issued a warning to the Phillies over allegations that they have been stealing signs.
The latest: during Monday night’s game against the Rockies, bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was seen using binoculars to look in at Rockies catchers. Meanwhile, Shane Victorino was seen in the dugout on the bullpen phone. You don’t have to be Josh Beckett’s wife to figure out what was going on.
There’s nothing in the rule book about sign stealing. There is, however, what amounts to an executive order on the matter. Back in 2001, then-Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Sandy Alderson sent out a memo to all teams that restricted the use of
electronic equipment during a game. Such equipment and technology, Alderson wrote, “could
not be used for communications or for the purpose of stealing signs or
conveying information designed to give a club an advantage.”
Binoculars aren’t electronic equipment. I suppose the bullpen phone could technically be considered that, though I’m guessing that’s not what Alderson had in mind. He was probably thinking about teams having laptops and cameras and Dick Tracy wrist-radios and light-signals a la the 1951 Giants and stuff. What the Phillies are doing is a bit more low-tech than all of that.
But there is something that seems like a transgression here. Yes, we’re deep into the murky world of the unwritten rules again, but do you not agree that it’s one thing for, say, Chase Utley to pick up a sign while leading off second base and flash it to Jayson Werth, but something different for the bullpen coach to be doing it via binoculars and telephone?
The former seems like competition. The latter seems, well, rather unseemly. And that’s the case if, for no other reason, than because Utley can get a ball thrown at his ribs if his subterfuge is discovered where the bullpen coach can’t, and that sort of thing tends to matter when it comes to violating unwritten rules.
So shape up, Phillies. It’s bad enough that you’re getting three more home games this year than anyone else. You don’t need the advantage that comes from stealing signs too.
- Pitchers batting is dumb and the DH should be universal 332
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights 69
- Alex Rodriguez hits 659th career home run, now one shy of tying Willie Mays 45
- Max Scherzer doubtful for next start due to thumb injury 5
- Protesters converge on Oriole Park at Camden Yards 149
- It sure sounds like Adam Wainwright suffered a torn Achilles tendon on Saturday night 44
- Settling the Score: Saturday’s results 33
- Report: Rangers will pay Josh Hamilton less than $7 million; deal includes opt-out after two years 99
- Pitchers batting is dumb and the DH should be universal (331)
- The early leaders in MLB’s “Franchise Four” thing have been announced (166)
- The Royals and White Sox had a benches-clearing fracas, five players ejected (160)
- Protesters converge on Oriole Park at Camden Yards (149)
- Kelvin Herrera gets a five-game suspension; Yordano Ventura fined (133)