Doubleheader, Injuries and Sign Stealing Mania
After the Phillies – Rockies rain out on Tuesday, a day-night doubleheader was scheduled today and things did not go well for the Phils. First, the Roy Halladay magic fizzled a bit in the 4-3 loss. Second, the injuries are continuing to pile up. The game going into extra innings did not help either.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz left the game in the 4th inning with a right knee injury. Back-up Brian Schneider is already on the DL, which means the Phillies are now onto their 3rd string catcher, Paul Hoover. Not only that, but now he will have to play both games of the double header. The Phillies are also short one spot in the bullpen as Brad Lidge flew back to Philadelphia to see the team doctor about his eternally injured elbow. This is more tragic news for a doubleheader during which the first game went long.
Halladay could not save the bullpen for the second game as he struggled to get through 6 1/3 innings. 10 hits and 3 runs later (2 earned), Halladay was pulled from the game. The biggest nightmare for the Phillies was Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo. This guy is a career .242 hitter, batting .240 coming into this game. Can someone then explain to me HOW Olivo goes 5 for 5 with the game winning walk-off homer in the 10th inning? Wow.
The defense did Halladay no favors by committing 3 errors in the field, although I think the scorekeeper only recorded two. Give the scorekeeper an error too then; why should he miss out on the fun? So, Chase Utley watched a ball roll right under his glove, which must have a hole in it. Jayson Werth bobbled a ball in the outfield…twice in the same play. And Ryan Howard bounced a ball to second, which should have been handled by Wilson Valdez but wasn’t.
Then again, Utley, Howard and Valdez made up almost the entire offense for the Phillies with 3,3 and 2 hits respectively. Placido Polanco had 2 hits in the game and no errors, so I guess he gets two thumbs up for the day.
So the series is now tied 1-1 and game 3 will begin at 8:40pm. The Phillies will rely on Jamie Moyer, who pitched a complete game shut-out in his last game. They will need him to go long in order to preserve the weak bullpen.
There has been a big to-do today over the allegations that the Phillies are stealing signs from opposing catchers. The Rockies complained about it after Monday’s loss, saying that bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was using binoculars during the 2nd inning and Shane Victorino was on the bullpen phone. MLB has issued a “warning,” stating that there was no conclusive evidence.
According to Victorino, he called to tell Billmeyer to put the binoculars away after the Rockies complained and manager Charlie Manuel spoke to the umpire. You can see this does match the sequence of the events on the game tape. Billmeyer uses the binoculars to watch the action and check on his catchers.
So, answer me this. HOW is Billmeyer supposed to relay the signs in a split second all the way from the bullpen to the batter? It is impossible. Think about how fast things go from giving a sign to throwing the pitch. The batter doesn’t have time to look to the dugout for a sign once he is in the box. Again, it is impossible. Billmeyer was likely watching the opposition in order to scout the pitcher; the same thing he can do by watching the video after the game, only doing it during the game is a time saver.
Besides, are some baseball fans and the media really convinced that no one tries to steal signs? If so, they are delusional. I really don’t care who steals signs. It is a competition and teams will take any advantage they can get. Trying to figure out what the opposing team is going to do is part of the game.
A guy standing on second can read the signs from the catcher and relay it to the batter. No one complains about this. Base coaches use stop watches to time pitchers in order to gain an advantage for stealing bases. No one complains about this either. A-Rod yells for a pop-up when he is running the bases, not fielding. Ok, so people did complain about that one…
But if teams are so concerned about the sign stealing, then they need to do a better job preparing and coming up with signs that are difficult to figure out or that change frequently. Or, do like the Phillies have done in the past and change signs or don’t use them at all. This is a matter of better managing your team and ensuring your pitchers and catchers are all on the same page.
In this case, there is no way the bullpen coach could have sent a sign fast enough to get to the batter. Even if it was possible, whether it is a fast ball or a slider coming in, the batter still has to hit the ball. Same as a runner trying to steal base; he still has to execute. But it is not against the rules of baseball to steal signs by non-electronic means. If people are unhappy about it, then the rules should be revised.
So, should the Phillies now accuse the Rockies of stealing signs since they collected 10 hits off Roy Halladay? Frankly, I do not care. Kudos to the Rockies for hitting our ace and shame on them for whining about something that did not happen just because they were upset about losing the game. This is a practice that has gone on for over a century amongst all MLB teams. I think we all have better things to worry about; of course, that is just one gals humble opinion ;o)
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography