Buchholz cheating accusation isn't the first or the last

Cheating in baseball is nothing new

5/3/13 in MLB   |   droth   |   127 respect

At its core, baseball is a one-on-one game between a hitter and a pitcher that's all about capitalizing on marginal advantages.  It's an arms race of trickery that has developed over the generations and has seen pine tar, corked bats, steroids, spit, sand paper, and so much more used to gain the upper hand.

May 1, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox pitcher starting Clay Buchholz (11) throws against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY SportsThe discussion of cheating has resurfaced this week after a Toronto Blue Jays announcer accused Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz of doctoring baseballs.  Buchholz unequivocally denied the accusations and it's impossible to know just how rampant ball doctoring among major league pitchers is, but to hear Curt Schilling talk at length about different methods that "he heard other pitchers may have been using" suggests that it's still very common.

And based on the anecdotes that have trickled down to the public over the years, it only makes sense that it's a constantly-evolving art that is being refined right in front of our eyes.

The spitball was banned in 1920, but that didn't stop Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry, who pitched in the big leagues long after the ban.  Perry would use Vaseline to doctor the baseball and catcher Gene Tenace once said the ball was sometimes so loaded he couldn't throw it back to the mound.  Gabe Paul, president of the Indians, came to Perry's defense saying that Gaylord is a very honorable man and "he only calls for the spitter when he needs it."

Whitey Ford, who pitched for 18 seasons, used to use his wedding ring to cut the ball, causing it to move in the opposite direction of the scuffed area.  Ford would also load balls up with mud and confessed that when he pitched against the Dodgers in the 1963 World Series, he "used enough mud to build a dam."

On ESPN in recent days, Schilling mentioned that there are metal rings at the base of gloves and infielders will occasionally bring these rings to the surface and scuff up the baseball while throwing it around the infield.

Knuckleballer Joe Niekro claimed that the emery found in his pocket was for keeping his nails short, and not for scuffing the baseball.  

In 1980, Rick Honeycutt taped a thumbtack to his finger to cut the ball.  In addition to cutting the baseball he also cut his face after temporarily forgetting about the tack and almost poking his eye out in the process.

In a New York Times story from 1987 on the subject, an anonymous pitcher said that in addition to Vaseline, pitchers can also use shampoo to grease a ball and that tobacco juice works too.
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5/3/13   |   ML31   |   3675 respect

And don't forget the other types of cheating people seem to be 100% OK with...  A catcher "framing" a pitch to induce a strike call from the umpire for a ball he knows was outside the strike zone.  Or outfielders acting like they caught balls on the fly when they know they trapped it.  Both blatant attempts to deceive the umpire into calls that are not honest. 

This is not an endorsement of any kind for chemical usage among players.  Such practice should be punished.  However the above kind of cheating as well as pitchers doctoring balls have WAY more effect on the game than any banned chemical substance absorbed by the players body.

The hypocritical nature of what kind of cheating the fans and the media are OK with remains a pet peeve of mine.