Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Jason Turbow, Author of "The Baseball Codes," Exposed How Cheating is Acceptable.

In a chapter Turnbow titles If You're Not Cheating, You're Not Trying, he gets quotes from former ballplayers, coaches and managers that basically confirm how everyone in baseball cheats.  In fact, the author uses a quote from Rogers Hornsby's article he wrote for "True" magazine titled, "You've Got to Cheat to Win in Baseball."

States Hornsby, "I've been in pro baseball since 1914 and I've cheated, or watched someone on my team cheat, in practically every game.  You've got to cheat.  I know if I had played strictly by the rules I'd have been home feeding my dogs a long time ago instead of earning a good living in baseball for 47 years."  Turnbow surmises that cheating was all that stood between a Hall of Famer (Rogers Hornsby) and a life of doing something else besides playing, coaching or managing baseball.

Turnbow uses Frank Robinson quotes, the major league baseball's discipline czar from 2000-2001. "Some of that stuff might be against some code, but none of it is against the law."

This is where Al Worthington's beliefs hold up. Breaking a rule of a game you are playing is against that particular game's law.  In baseball, the rulebook is law. It was written to prevent competitors from getting an unfair advantage by cheating. Then the Turnbow book has this quote,"Deceiving an umpire is cheating, but deceiving an opponent (say, by stealing their signs) is simply hard-nosed competition." Really?  The umpires were added to the game to see that the rulebook was adhered to by the letter. In no way, shape, or form is cheating acceptable. 

Back to Frank Robinson. A Hall of Fame player with a questionable belief system. "There's nothing wrong with trying to find an edge. That's smart- that's not cheating." As long is it is someone on your team not getting caught, right Frank?

Then we have the unique case of Al Worthington.  A right-handed pitcher who began his career as a New York Giant.  He came west with the Giants when they became the San Francisco Giants.  He was an effective pitcher out of the bullpen who always thought baseball was a way to make an honest living.  That was until he was exposed to tactics that he didn't see as honorable. How could cheating be the thing to do, he thought.

And for the remainder of his career he fought with the notion of having to cheat to survive.

Author Turnbow says "phooey" to the old axiom, Cheaters never prosper. "Cheaters do win.  They win a lot. It's why they cheat," says Turnbow.

Breaking it down further Turnbow lists the following:

Pitchers apply foreign substances to the ball
Hitters doctor their bats
Outfielders act as if they caught a ball they actually trapped
Hitters fake being hit by errant tosses from the pitcher.

I added my own:
Both hitters and pitchers administer supplements into their bodies to make them stronger and heal quickly from injuries.
Balls go further/farther off the bat of the supplementally aided batter.
Balls are thrown harder from a pitcher who uses supplements to defy the odds of aging. A good hitter has even better Eye-hand coordination as the average player improves to someone who will not be kept in the minor leagues but instead someone a major league team will take a chance on. 

Says Ozzie Guillen, "... If you're doing whatever you're not supposed to do and you don't get caught, keep doing it."

A major league complainer about the steroid era is Hall of Famer Bob "Rapid Robert" Feller.  Feller was a war hero and when he returned to the Cleveland Indians he brought with him a military grade gun sight (as Feller was a an anti-aircraft gunner). This site was 60 times stronger than the naked eye.  Cleveland had fallen into a late-August swoon, in 1948, that saw them fall from first place to third place. With 26 games to play, the team was growing desperate, so a spy station was placed in the scoreboard of Cleveland's Municipal Stadium. Among the people manning the scope were Feller himself, fellow Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Lemon, and groundskeeper Emil Bossard's two sons, Marshall and Harold.  Theirs was the system that would one day drive Frank Lane, the White Sox GM, to implement his own practice at Comiskey Park and subsequently drive Al Worthington from the game.

Bragging like a schoolboy who got over by pulling some sort of fast one,"I myself called a grand-slam homer for Joe Gordon on a 3-and-0 count against the Red Sox," said Feller. "As soon as it landed (Boston manager) Joe McCarthy came out on the top step of the dugout and looked at the scoreboard. He knew he had been had."

Aided by Feller's scope, the Indians won 19 of their final 24 games- all but four of which were at home- to force a one-game playoff with the Red Sox. Cleveland would go on to beat Boston, in Boston. From there they would meet the Boston Braves for the World Series title. Indians outfielder Larry Doby had to insisted his pivotal home run in Game 4 was legitimate, unaided by stolen signs. Cleveland ended up winning in 6 games.

Unfortunately for Larry Doby (the next Afro-American to play major league baseball after Jackie Robinson) he didn't get to enjoy his prodigious blast the way he may have liked to because of the cheating that enabled the Indians to force a one-game playoff. You see, Author Jason Turnbow was right. Cheaters do and have prospered. And with it we can see how hypocritical players, like Bob Feller, moan and groan about the steroid era even though what they did certainly was or is not admirable.

(thanks to Jason Turnbow's book for exposing a hypocrite)

Kevin J. Marquez