Baltimore Orioles manager Frank Robinson was impressed with the new Comiskey Park, but he wasn't thrilled with a couple of features he feels might give the Chicago White Sox an unfair advantage.
Robinson told The Evening Sun that he feels the White Sox video room is too close to the dugout and that a panel of padding in front of the home dugout shields the White Sox from view while allowing them to watch everything that goes on in the visitors' dugout.
"It's no big deal," Robinson said. "I just said that whatever they have in their dugout should be given to the visiting team, too. I didn't accuse anyone of anything. It was just conversation."
The irregularities -- if they can be called that -- touch a nerve with the Orioles because of an incident last year in which White Sox scout Joe Nossek was detected in the stands, apparently stealing signs and relaying information to the White Sox dugout with a walkie-talkie.
The Orioles and others complained to the American League office, and Nossek was moved into an area near the press box and prohibited from communicating electronically with the coaching staff.
Robinson stopped short of accusing anyone of wrongdoing this time but said that last year's sign-stealing controversy has made him ultra-sensitive to White Sox gamesmanship. He and Sox manager Jeff Torborg are close friends, and the teams have close enough ties that the White Sox allowed the Orioles the use of Sarasota's Ed Smith Stadium this spring.
"Jeff and I are good friends," Robinson said. "I didn't accuse him of cheating. I just said that the rules say you can't have a monitor in the dugout, and their video room is very close to the dugout."
White Sox officials responded to the initial report with dismay and denied any intent to gain advantage from the positioning of the video room or the difference between the two dugouts.
"I'm disappointed that Frank would say that," general manager Ron Schueler said. "I think he might just be disappointed in the way his team is playing right now."
Torborg emphatically denied any wrongdoing on the part of the White Sox.
"We're definitely not cheating," he said. "If we were, I wouldn't admit it, but I guarantee that we're not."
There will be no complaints to the league office, Robinson said, and no further action on the part of the Orioles, who might not have happened upon the video room if club officials hadn't toured the stadium in anticipation of the opening of the new Camden Yards ballpark in Baltimore next year.
Robinson would, however, like each dugout at Comiskey to be equally visible from the other.
"They do that [have their dugout obscured] for a reason. [Torborg] can hide so that the visiting dugout can't see him, but the visiting dugout is exposed," Robinson said. "They can look at me and Johnny [Oates] and see what we're doing and try to steal signs or whatever. The rules say, what the home team has, the visiting team should have, too."