Most of my focus has been on the Flyers lately. As a matter of fact, all of my focus has been on the Flyers. I may be watching every Phillies game, but I'm thinking about the Flyers. Game seven of the Eastern Conference semi-finals is Friday and I'll be at the Wachovia Center watching it with about 20,000 other Flyers fans. But the Phillies are still playing and are being accused of doing it illegally.
The Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer, during the first game of their series against the Rockies, was seen with a pair of binoculars focusing on home plate. The Colorado Rockies filed a complaint with Major League Baseball accusing the Phils of stealing their catcher's signs and relaying them to the batter. Later on in the game, Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino was seen talking on the bullpen phone in the Phillies dugout (the MLB has reprimanded the Phillies for their apparent sign stealing).
Let's take a quick look at what sign stealing actually is. It has been done in baseball for decades. Usually there is a man on second who figures out the opposing catcher's pitch signs and quickly and discretely relays them to the hitter. But how is Shane Victorino supposed to get Mick Billmeyer's relayed signals all the way from center field?
All of this relaying has to be done very quickly. It's literally impossible for Billmeyer to have his binoculars on, see the catcher's sign, relay some sort of sign to the hitter, and have the hitter recognize it from 400+ feet away in center field. All of this needs to happen in the matter of seconds between when the pitcher sees the catcher's pitch sign and when he throws the ball to home plate.
Why would the Rockies accuse the Phils of sign stealing if they didn't actually do it? Coach Charlie Manuel said, “Because we beat ‘em. That’s why.’