The Bill Belichick Scandal: A $1.7 Million Fraud?
Sitting in the bullpen was backup catcher Salvadore Yvars, easily seen by the batter just over the pitcher’s left shoulder. One buzz meant a change-up, whereupon Yvars would cross his legs. Two buzzes would signal a fastball and Yvars would sit motionless, which is precisely what happened at 3:57 p.m. when Ralph Branca—who was 13-12 for the season with 118 strikeouts and a 3.26 ERA—unleashed that historic pitch.
In the words of announcer Russ Hodges on WMCA:
Branca throws. There’s a long drive. It’s going to be—I believe! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands. The Giants win the pennant! They’re going crazy! Oohhh-oohhh!
Sign stealing in baseball is no big deal. Just last month Spencer Fordin, a reporter for the official Major League Baseball Web site, MLB.com, wrote that “stealing signs is an age-old baseball tradition that is still practiced in virtually every clubhouse—though players generally don’t admit it on the record.” It wasn’t until 1961 that MLB outlawed the use of mechanical devices for stealing signs.
Signal stealing in professional football is a zebra—a horse of a very different color.
The Belichick Conspiracy
Judy Battista’s story in The New York Times that linked Michael Vick’s involvement in dog fighting with the New England Patriots’ stealing the signals of its competitors is stupid, sappy journalism that would never have gotten by a competent editor.
Michael Vick was a renegade—an individual—a single bad actor—just like Pete Rose (suspended from baseball for gambling). Other individuals in professional sports who recently disgraced themselves:
* NBA referee Tim Donaghy (throwing games for payoffs from the mob)
* Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis (obstructing justice in a murder investigation)
* Titans cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones (who started a brawl at the Las Vegas Minxx Gentlemen’s Club & Lounge that resulted in a triple shooting)