Here's how professional baseball players cheat

Originally published at: Here's how professional baseball players cheat | Boing Boing


Confirming that, even in the late-stage capitalist 21st century, it’s still as American as mom and apple pie.


Some of these aren’t really cheating. “Stealing signs” is normal, even expected, play, so long as it’s on the field of play. Using electronics, etc… does cross the line and should be banned/punished.

Steriods, until made illegal, wasn’t cheating as it was not only legal, but tacitly encouraged by the owners and management of MLB who loved the gaudy offensive #s and the increased attendance that correlated with that. People focus their ire on Clemens, Bonds, etc… but Selig is just as guilty, if not more so.

Doctoring equipment is the more legitimate charge here. Players have altered bats and balls since the game began… which is largely why there are regulations and controls around them now. Corking, though, has largely fallen out of favor as detection is not that difficult and the benefits are debatable.

Definitely a colorful history.


Agreed on sign stealing. That’s a little like calling it cheating if a batter studies a pitcher’s posture to try to figure out what they’re going to throw (or stealing a base for that matter). The mini-game of creating, changing and faking signs seems like a fun little bit of spy-vs-spy subterfuge in the game.


Even in little league, players/coaches look for tells, etc…

One of the thing young pitchers all want to do (but can’t) is throw curveballs or some kind of “different” pitch. You often can tell because being young, inexperienced, and having SMALL HANDS, they often futz w/ the ball in their mitt, which is obvious to everyone. Smart players on the other team notice it, etc… and often call it out.

So, we had a “signal” for the pitcher to fake all this futzing around and just throw a fastball. None of it really meant much, but the kids enjoyed learning about subterfuge in baseball w/out having to try to learn pitches their arms aren’t ready for.


That George Brett/Billy Martin incident is etched in my brain from childhood.


Yeah, the batter still has to hit that 95+ mph fastball. It’s not anything like a sure thing even coming from a pitching machine. But deploying technology is just crooked.

I have zero sympathy for athletes using PEDs. There’s an argument there regarding whether they should be allowed, but seeing as how they’re not, their use is shameful, IMO. There is little else that has as quantifiably direct an impact on performance and when one athlete puts up extraordinary results because of their use, they just aren’t playing fair. “Everybody cheats” is a pretty hollow defense.


…still think they ought to let them keep the bat as they run the bases.


Cheating right up to the line and maybe just a little over it has always been a part of baseball - and, I would argue, in every single sport - and has been since they were invented. It’s the reason that rulebooks are so detailed and filled with arcane minutiae. It’s an endless game of action and reaction between the teams, the players, the leagues. I wouldn’t be surprised if the sponsors and the fans got involved at some level, too.

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While there was a period when steroid use was technically legal, there is no doubt that chemically altering your body is different than using exercise and physical training to strengthen your body. It was stupid for MLB to pretend that it wasn’t a problem for so long. Unfortunately, the players like Roger Clemons, Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds, Lenny Dykstra and lots of others who enriched themselves and their stats with “roids” ultimately did themselves no favors. I had a chance to meet Darren Daulton about 10 years after he retired from the Phillies. By that time his neck and upper body had returned to normal size, and he looked totally different than he had during his heyday. There have been a disturbing number of professional baseball players (including Daulton) who died fairly young from various forms of brain cancer. No specific link has been established to PED’s, but then, I’m pretty sure that MLB prefers not to know if there is a link.

In addition to their humiliating rejection by the Baseball Hall of Fame, a good number of them have suffered long term health problems as a result. And the Houston Astros have forever tainted their records during the approximately 3 year period that they engaged in cheating electronically. Some of them should have been suspended or banned, but I would bet that they suffer long term monetary losses, both in terms of salary but also in terms of endorsement money, which can be significant. It was just really dumb.


Two MLB network broadcasters - as opposed to the former players who work for them - have dared to say, “No one cares about steroids anymore. The new generation of fans doesn’t know about it or care. Put those PED players on the Hall of Fame ballot already,” which infuriated me, and horrified the former players and other broadcasters around them when they said it. It was only briefly discussed, thank Gawd, doubtless because MLB told them to shut up about putting cheaters on the ballot.

One of the “who cares” idiots* also said Shohei Ohtani should quit pitching after he’d had a lousy outing. Only one. I stabbed the pause button and said, “If you really think that, then you better quit your job as soon as Ohtani wins his next game, because you were wrong.” Ohtani deserves the MVP, and if he wins it, that should make that broadcaster feel like the fool he is. Being a fool, it won’t happen. More’s the pity.

*I can’t remember his name - he’s addicted to metrics, wrote a book, and wears only cowboy boots. I’d wager he’s never been within six feet of a horse, let alone saddled one.


Cheating at baseball simply isn’t cricket.

Oh hang on… sandpaper and cricket balls caused an international controversy!

Cameron Bancroft was caught by television cameras trying to rough up one side of the ball with sandpaper to make it swing in flight.[1

Sandpaper on balls… snigger

Can we celebrate our country and first people without sport in Australia.

It can be a very sad and disturbed place when you get to know it!

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And these are players that made it to the majors and made a lot of money. I often think about all the players who didn’t make it to the majors. They pumped themselves up and probably suffered the consequences with none of the financial benefits. And don’t forget about their families and others close to them.

I also think about the players who didn’t cheat use PEDs. Some guy who hit 25-30 home runs a year during that time almost certainly lost out to the PEDs guys in terms of contracts, additional revenue (commercials, ads, jersey sales) and acknowledgement for their skills.


Now that there’s money on the table, I expect that the bosses will crack down on clever players.


Children playing ball in high school are being given PEDs!

All pro sports and most college sports are about money. First, last and forever.

Might as well be surprised corporations try to find ways to cheat on their taxes legally.

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