Uh, don't look now but the Philadelphia Phillies have found themselves in the middle of another controversy.
Only the instrument at issue this week is not a Taser gun but a pair of binoculars.
The Colorado Rockies allege that Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was using his field glasses to steal signs from catcher Miguel Olivo(notes) during Monday night's game, a 9-5 win for Philadelphia.
Though cameras showed Billmeyer using the binoculars during a Phillies at-bat, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel says that his coach was just using the binoculars to check out the positioning of his own catcher during Colorado at-bats.
Tracy Ringolsby of Fox Sports first broke this story on Wednesday morning, and reports that Major League Baseball has issued a warning to the Phillies, but that the league can't say for certain that Billmeyer and Victorino were talking about something more nefarious than their theories on the final season of "LOST" or what nightspot they'd hit in LoDo after the game.
"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.''
Phillies fans, of course, are on the defensive, but as I said when that goofy "Joe Mauer stealing signs story" came out last fall, there probably isn't a team in Major League Baseball that isn't trying to steal signs at one point or another. It's part of the game, and I've heard one manager say that if you're not doing a good enough job of concealing and mixing up your signals, you deserve to get them intercepted.
But I also think there's something quite different in a baserunner or a manager swiping signs with their own two eyes and employing more artificial means — one tale I've heard is that some teams will get their in-house center field cameraman in on the act — to gain an edge. It's a less-fair level of gamesmanship, like asking an eagle-eyed drink waitress to tip you off on an opponent's poker cards instead of reading the tells on his face.
Yeah, yeah. Billmeyer could have been using those binoculars to check out his own catcher or even a good-looking woman in the stands, but the simple appearance of stealing signs doesn't shine a positive light on his Phils.
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