As we prepare to continue this series here is a review of numbers 7-10 of the list. Click on the titles to read the articles. Number 6 to appear soon.
10: Wimpy Pitchers
Random Commentary and Satire About Interesting and Sometimes Pathetic Stuff
Cheating would come in at No. 1 if I were currently doing a series on What’s Wrong With Football. And there would be something about Belichick and video tape. But baseball is far from being above the cheating fray. And it never has been. While Bill Belichick has taken cheating to a whole new level of sophistication, similar things have been done in baseball for a long time, though not quite in such a refined manner (e.g., binoculars in the scoreboard stealing signs).
The cheating that stands out right now … I mean right now … is steroids, and related substances. I really hope there is a way Paul Byrd can be found innocent. (See “Byrd Revelation Casts Pall Over Indians-Red Sox Game 7.”) Barry Bonds is still on the hook, though nothing has yet been proven. Then we have Giambi.
Perhaps the most disappointing is Mark McGwire, who has disappeared since his sworn testimony evaporated.
Let’s be honest about cheating. It has been part of the national pastime in more ways than can be enumerated from memory.
There was the out-in-the-open dirty play … Ty Cobb sliding into the bag with his spikes high.
Gamblers fixed games … whatever one believes about the Black Sox … perhaps the worst form of cheating.
There was one that was so universally used that they had to create a rule to prevent it … the spitter. Gaylord Perry, where are you now? We even hear about little edges that Hall-of-Fame greats like Whitey Ford used to get … digging a wedding ring into a ball, for example.
My goal is not to list all the types of cheating in baseball. You can stretch the whole ethics issue here. How about a catcher framing a pitch to try to fool the umpire? I remember once playing first base in a pick-up game. One of our infielders tossed me a ground ball, which arrived at about the same time as the runner, but clearly beat him. I had to come into the line to get the wide throw and the runner slammed into me. I went sprawling, tearing a brand-new pair of pants (in the days before rips became desirable).
The runner jumped off the ground. “He didn’t touch the bag,” he yelled repeatedly. Everyone considered him out. I was the only one who knew he was right. But I was ticked about the pants. I didn’t say I did touch the bag, but I didn’t say I didn’t either. So he was out. That was unethical … and now it’s finally off my chest.
My point is … even little forms of cheating, like trying to get an edge with the umps, are cheating.
We would all love it if we could free the game of the big cheats and forms of cheating. But how about we just expect adults who play baseball to be honest. Now, wouldn’t that be refreshing?
11-2, 30-5, 3-0. The numbers that brought the Red Sox back from the brink of defeat … again … and put them back in the World Series. Game seven win: 11-2. Total score against Indians, last three games: 30-5. Games won after Cleveland led 3-1: 3-0.
The Red Sox are a team of destiny.
And now they play the Rockies, a team whose entire payroll is about what Boston paid for Dice-K. With the Red Sox on a roll and Colorado on an extended hiatus, the Rockies have their work cut out for them.
But both teams are teams of destiny, with remarkable comeback stories. The Series awaits.
I have said that game sevens are heaven—seventh heaven if you will—for baseball fans. It is unfortunate when anything takes away from those magical games. But a blog called Sports and Ethics can’t ignore the current revelation about Cleveland starter Paul Byrd.
“Byrd, whose win in Game 4 of the ALCS moved the Indians within one victory of the World Series, bought nearly $25,000 worth of human growth hormone and syringes from 2002 to 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.” (Read the full report here.)
Baseball doesn’t need this. One normally associates steroids with power hitters, like the accusations against Barry Bonds. But a non-superstar-type player seems to have the most to gain from such use. Byrd has denied the accusations in the past. The timing of this revelation seems political, like something that would happen near election time. Game 7 is the closest to election time in baseball there is. It is a shame to see this now. It is even a worse shame if it is true.
No matter what happens, we will be hearing a lot more on this. If the Indians pull one out tonight, it will become front and center until the end of the World Series.
The Colorado Rockies knew they had a long wait before their next game after sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS. But as of tonight, they also have the maximum wait to discover whom they will play in the Fall Classic.
Shortest possible series in the NLCS, longest in the ALCS. The Boston Red Sox, at home in the friendly confines of Fenway Park, had no difficulty in evening their series with the Cleveland Indians and sending the series to the most exciting of all baseball playoff scenarios … a seventh game, where one is done and the other triumphs.
Behind seven strong innings from the Mr. October of pitchers, Curt Schilling, and an early grand slam by J.D. Drew, the Red Sox coasted to a 12-2 victory. Schilling has already added to his legend; now, will the Sox do it as well by polishing off the Tribe in game seven?
No one knows. That’s why game sevens are heaven for fans. And still, the Rockies wait.
Beckett dominates again.
Boston knocked out C.C. Sabathia and, behind Josh Beckett’s predictably amazing stuff (at least after the first inning), got ready to head back to the friendly confines of Fenway Park after defeating the Cleveland Indians, 7-1.
And though the game is an elimination game for them, the series is now as close as a five-game series can be, with the visiting team (Cleveland) up 3-2 going into the sixth game. (A number of the players on the Tribe have made it clear they did not want to go back to Boston … and the celebration-ready fans at the Jake were devastated at the loss of the planned festivities.)
Super-closer Jonathan Papelbon was not needed tonight, but still relieved Beckett in the ninth, no doubt to get a bit of work to tune up for the weekend. Somehow it seemed justice for Kenny Lofton, who put on an unsportsmanlike display earlier in the game, to make the final out (he was still grousing about called strikes during this at bat) … but that didn’t happen as he walked on a 3-2 count before the final out.
The Red Sox will have the love and support of their home crowd for the remaining game(s). And Curt Schilling, a Boston folk hero, will carry their hopes to the mound on Saturday. He will have the opportunity to continue to build his legend … and the Boston mystique.
This is the playoffs. Don’t act like a little kid.
In the fifth inning, after Kenny Lofton dropped his bat on a 3-0 pitch that was called a strike (and was a strike), he popped up on the next pitch. Beckett yelled something at Lofton and Lofton barked all the way down the first base line, then crossed into the field toward Beckett before being separated from Beckett by umpires. The teams left the dugouts.
Come on, guys, this is the playoffs. Lofton should probably have been ejected but they don’t want to do that in a game of this magnitude. Both of you, play the game and put your insults in your pockets.
Lofton, especially … the old man of the series … should be above this kind of display. And he is more at fault than Beckett, who apparently just barked an impulsive shout. Lofton released a stream of invective and then moved menacingly toward the Red Sox ace. We don’t need to see this, from either man … definitely not from the most-seasoned veteran.
I like Kenny Lofton. He even played for my favorite team once. (Of course he’s played for just about everyone’s favorite team at least once.) But this is beneath him. It’s beneath any Major Leaguer. It’s beneath any adult.
So Kenny, grow up. You can start by apologizing to the fans.