This has been going on for years. When will baseball do the right thing and banish the Phillies to an Italian baseball league and bring an honest franchise into the fold? From today's paper:Phillies Are Accused of Stealing Signs Illegally
The Philadelphia Phillies have been one of the best teams in baseball over the last two seasons, capturing two straight National League pennants and the 2008 World Series. Now, they are dealing with accusations that they are, and have been, stealing signs with methods that violate baseball's rules.
The Colorado Rockies accused the Phillies of using binoculars from the bullpen on Monday to gain an unfair advantage. On Wednesday, several people in baseball acknowledged that similar concerns were expressed by two of the Phillies' opponents during last year's postseason.
According to the people, who were directly involved in discussing the issue, the Los Angeles Dodgers told baseball officials during the National League Championship Series that they were concerned the Phillies were using video cameras to steal signs. The Yankees, whom the Phillies faced in the World Series, expressed similar concerns, as did the Mets in 2007.
Officials in the commissioner's office looked into the accusations, reviewed tapes of Phillies games and found no evidence that they had broken rules.
The accusations of spying from the outfield are reminiscent of the sign-stealing scheme that is believed to have aided the New York Giants in their storied comeback to win the 1951 N.L. pennant.
In mid-August of that year, the Giants were far behind the Brooklyn Dodgers in the standings, but caught the Dodgers by the end of the season, and beat them in a playoff series on Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard Round the World home run.
Decades later it was revealed that the Giants had situated members of the team 500 feet from home plate in the center-field clubhouse. From there, they peered through a telescope to spy on the opposing catcher's signs and relayed the signals to Sal Yvars, a backup catcher in the Giants' bullpen.
Yvars then used hand signals to alert the Giants' batters.
The issue with the Phillies publicly resurfaced Monday when the Colorado Rockies accused the Phillies' bullpen coach, Mick Billmeyer, of using binoculars to steal signs when the Phillies were hitting in the top of the second inning. Television cameras also captured Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino on the dugout phone during the inning.
Players, managers and coaches are allowed to try to steal signals, but they cannot use cameras, binoculars or any method beyond their eyes to do so.
On Tuesday, Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's vice president for on-field operations, told the Phillies that Billmeyer could no longer use binoculars during games. A preliminary review of game tapes revealed nothing that led baseball officials to believe the Phillies had used the binoculars to steal signs.
Victorino told reporters in Colorado that he was calling Billmeyer in the bullpen to tell him to put the binoculars away. He said that the crew chief, Jerry Crawford, had just talked to Manager Charlie Manuel.
"I actually told him: 'Mick, you just got kicked out of the game. Jerry just talked to Charlie and said somebody complained,' " Victorino said. " 'You've got to come off the field.' He said, 'No, no, no.' I was like, 'No, I'm just kidding.' But that's why I called down."
Manuel said he did not know anything about it.
"Mick watches Ruiz catch," Manuel said, referring to Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, who could not have been catching in the top of the second inning because the Phillies were hitting. "That's what it was"
"We took care of it," Manuel said. "I can understand why they'd be concerned about it, but at the same time, that's the truth. That's what happened."
Manuel tried to deflect attention from the Phillies and toward the Mets, saying, "Their home record is out of this world and they're losing on the road."
He added: "That's a good indication sometimes, if you want to know about signs. When I see somebody 17-2 at home and 4-12 on the road, I kind of get concerned about that. That kind of crosses my mind."
Actually, the Mets are 14-8 at home and 4-8 on the road. After they lost at home to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, Manager Jerry Manuel laughed when asked about Charlie Manuel's comments.
"Tell Charlie our bullpen is a little far and we have a few things" in the way, Manuel said of Citi Field's layout.
Mets starter Mike Pelfrey said that the Phillies had a reputation for stealing signs and that he heard from players who played for the Phillies that they stole signs. He did not say whether they stole signs using their eyes or cameras.
Both Pelfrey and Johan Santana were hit hard by the Phillies in back-to-back games at Citizens Bank Park early this month.
Mets catcher Rod Barajas, who played for the Phillies in 2007,said some teammates were suspicious during the game in which Santana was pounded.
"Some people were talking, amongst us, the bullpen coach would come out and hang over the fence when they were hitting," he said, according to The Associated Press. "And somebody said -- I didn't notice it -- but somebody said he came over and hung over the fence while they were hitting for the first couple innings and then when we were hitting they were sitting back."