Here's a fun story: In 1898, the Cincinnati Reds were playing the Philadelphia Phillies at the old Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds (Baker Bowl) when Reds' infielder Tommy Corcoran, coaching third base, tripped over a wire in the ground. He yanked it up... and followed it all the way to Phillies reserve catcher Morgan Murphy, who was sitting with a pair of opera glasses and a telegraph machine. It was, by far, the greatest attempt at sign stealing in baseball history.
The Phillies went 78-71 that season, but perhaps the Phillies of recent years have channeled their inner Morgan Murphy to better records. Once again, the Phillies have been accused of stealing signs.
This is a common theme in recent years. The Mets accused the Phillies in 2007. You may remember the Yankees accused the Phillies of stealing signs last World Series. Charlie Manuel said the Phillies didn't have the Yankees' signs but were trying to get them. The Mets accused the Phillies of stealing signs earlier this season when the Fightins scored 10 runs off Johan Santana.
The latest accusation is right out of the 1898 playbook: Bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was caught looking in at Rockies' catcher Miguel Olivo with a pair of binoculars (aka opera glasses), while Shane Victorino was on the bullpen phone (aka telegraph machine) in the dugout.
Let's be clear: This is awesome. Awesomely cheating, of course, but also awesomely blatant. I am hoping the Phillies will soon hire one of those airplanes with a message behind it to fly over Citizens Bank Park and relay the signs to the hitters. Or maybe the Phanatic can get involved! That'd be great.
via Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra, who apparently believes that stealing signs is perfectly okay as long as it's not done with electronic equipment