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The Helena Arkansas Daily World - Helena, AR
  • Random Thoughts on playing by the rules

  • Last week, New York Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda was caught using pine tar to rub up the baseball to get a better grip on the ball during a damp evening at Yankee Stadium. For those not familiar with baseball, pine tar is a substance that batters use on their bat to keep it from slipping out of their hand. When applied to a baseball it makes it do funny things like dip and curve.
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  • Last week, New York Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda was caught using pine tar to rub up the baseball to get a better grip on the ball during a damp evening at Yankee Stadium. For those not familiar with baseball, pine tar is a substance that batters use on their bat to keep it from slipping out of their hand. When applied to a baseball it makes it do funny things like dip and curve.
    It is illegal for a pitcher to apply the substance to a baseball during the course of a game.
    Pineda was caught not once but twice with the substance on his person. Both incidents involved the Boston Red Sox. ESPN video caught images of what appeared to be the illegal substance on Pineda’s hand in a game against the Red Sox the previous week. The umpires could not do anything about the situation because the Red Sox did not bring it to their attention.
    When Pineda pitched the Sox the following week, Boston manager John Farrell addressed the situation. The umpires checked the substance, which this time had been applied to Pineda’s neck, and Pineda was immediately ejected from the game. A 10-day suspension was handed down by the Commissioner’s Office the following day.
    Pineda was either ignorant of the rules or totally stupid for putting the substance in such obvious places. This brings me to the real point of this week’s commentary – cheating. Cheating has become commonplace not only in the professional sports ranks but amateur athletics as well.
    It is often disguised as a “competitive edge.” But it all boils down to one thing – breaking the rules in order to win. I love the game of major league baseball but over the years cheating has plagued the game. Teams and players have always attempted to steal the other team’s signs for base stealing, bunting, hit and run etc. There’s the common belief that if you know what is coming you can stop it.
    Pitchers have been putting foreign substances on the ball since the game became the “national pastime.” Some pitchers, such as Gaylord Perry, were accused almost their entire career of throwing a spitball. Saliva also causes the baseball to do funny things. Batters also have had a hand at cheating by putting a cork in their bats to make the ball travel farther when hit.
    Baseball’s biggest cheating scandal involved steroids. Players injected steroids to increase muscle development and help generate keener eyesight. Some of baseball’s greatest records such as career homers have been questioned as to their legitimacy as the result of this cheating incident.
    Page 2 of 2 - Of course baseball is not the only sport subject to cheating. Ever notice how many NBA players flop to the floor with no contact to draw those important free throws? I’m almost willing to bet that you have never counted the steps taken before those amazing flying dunks take place.
    On the football field, the guards and tackles frequently illegally use their hands on key blocks when the official isn’t looking.
    Participating in sports can provide some of life’s great lessons. It teaches young men and women to win with respect and to accept loss with dignity. Today, there is too much emphasis on winning at all levels. While coaches and parents should be encouraging character and sportsmanship in athletic competition, all too often they are teaching youngsters how to gain that “competitive edge.”
    Some of our professional athletes as well as parents and amateur coaches are not being good examples or role models when it comes to playing by the rules. That should change. Our youngsters should be taught that cheating is not acceptable under any circumstances.  
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