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Defining cheaters

  • Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Alex Rodriguez is done.

A-Roid will never play another game for the Yankees or anybody outside North Korea.

But it’s not because of the lame piece aired on 60 Minutes last week. That segment was a waste of good celluloid.

The reporter sat there and in his practiced, deep, journalism voice, expressed outrage and indignation at what Tony Bosch and A-Roid did with the whole performance enhancing drugs thing. Further scoffing occurred when Bosch sounded unapologetic about cheating or helping baseball players other than A-Roid cheat.

The most telling comment in the interview was how the performance enhancing drugs were merely the latest incarnation of cheating in baseball.

Cheating has been a part of the baseball tapestry since Abner Doubleday picked up a baseball and said, “I shall call this first pitch, ‘strike one.’”

The aim of competition is to gain a statistical advantage over your opponent.

A statistical advantage equates to winning.

And cheating ranks right up there with keeping your shoulders closed, eye on the ball and not stepping in the bucket.

Everybody does it and while that doesn’t make cheating right, it doesn’t necessarily make it wrong either.

The reporter said something about how cheating undermines the concept of “fair play.”

I snorted with derision at that one.

Nobody is interested in fair play.

We want to win.

At all cost.

Grantland Rice said “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game,” but Vince Lombardi said, “Winning isn’t everything it’s the only thing.”

Which of these two statements better represents the fabric of the American sports fan?

It hits you like an umbrella upside the head: it’s all about winning.

One of the very first pitches my grandfather taught me how to throw was a spitball. The second thing he taught me was how to hide it.

“Wipe the sweat off your forehead but brush the palm of your hand only down your pants,” he said. “Then take your sweaty fingers and position them inside the baseball’s horseshoe.”

I was nine years old.

Did I throw a spitball?

Sure.

Baseball says it is against the rules to deceive the opponent, but the whole point of any game is to try and deceive your opponent.

Why do you think they invented the fake?

I taught a balk pickoff move to every left-handed pitcher I ever coached. How to throw a spitball was the second thing I taught them.

Does that make me a bad coach?

No.

I also stole signs from the dugout and the coach’s box, told runners to kick at the glove when they slid, and wasn’t above using the brush-back pitch if it meant getting an out.

I won at every stop along the line I either played or coached.

And my players’ parents were happy.

As for the use of drugs in the game I simply point to the 20-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew found in most dugouts around town.

Playing a 162-game season is a grind on the mind and body.

Think of it as a case of “The Mondays” seven days a week.

We all do it every morning when we fire up the coffee pot. It’s not the wholesome mountain grown flavor we seek. We’d drink coffee if it tasted like mud water.

It’s the caffeine.

The speed.

Cappuccino machines aren’t installed in NBA locker rooms because LeBron has a hankering for a Starbucks latte between quarters.

If that’s called cheating then we’re all cheaters.

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