Saturday, February 15, 2020

On Cheating...

"If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying" -- Joe Montana (among others)

I don't know if Joe is the originator of that quote, but he's the last person of any stature to have used it, according to Google.

In fact, I believe the quote has it's origins in baseball, and it is to baseball that I turn my attention.

Regarding the "scandal" that has "rocked" baseball over the comparatively minor faux pas of "sign stealing":

If it hadn't been the New York Yankees who were supposedly screwed (maybe the Dodgers) then this wouldn't be an issue. Because I'm sure the Yankees do it, too.

Speaking of the Yankees, because their butthurt and extremely unlikable fans seem to be crying the loudest:

How about you get some hits when you need them? $200 million in payroll failed to get any when they needed one. The Yankees didn't lose because their signs were being stolen; they lost because they suddenly forgot how to hit, on a team that did nothing but either homer (241 lead the majors, set a new MLB record) or strikeout (1368, near the top of the league) all season. Very little of anything else in between. Maybe steal a base every once in a while, lay down a bunt, how about manufacturing a run every now and again?

You know, like real baseball players do.

Besides, a team that had Giambi, Rodriguez, Pettite, and Clemens on their payroll -- expending tens of millions on steroid users, KNOWINGLY -- should probably shut the fuck up about someone else cheating.

Sign stealing is as old as sport, itself. I'd even wager that in the days before garbage cans, tv monitors and "buzzers", if prehistoric man engaged in sport, someone was cheating for a competitive advantage. They were probably banging rocks together, or beating drums, or using a series of grunts.

In this particular case, the Purists (who are mostly insufferable fucktards with Mommy issues and small penises) will tell you it's not the fact that signs were being stolen that is the problem, but that technology was applied to the stealing that is the issue.

To which I say "the Purists" are almost always wrong, they are generally selective in their collective outrage and if it were left to them baseball would be as boring and obnoxious as cricket -- where games last for several days, and no sane person gives an actual fuck at what's happening on the field of play.

Does it matter if I murder you with a gun or a brick or a baseball bat,  if the end result is still the same? These same doofuses will tell you that sign stealing is "part of the game", and they don't mind it, but they have a problem with this particular method. It's a stupid argument: you're in favor of what you now consider cheating, only because you draw the line at doing it electronically?

We're entering the "when is a trans man really a woman" territory here.

The method is irrelevant: you're still murdered regardless of my choice of weapon, and if the sign is ultimately still stolen, who gives a damn?

Let's break it down for them.

Even with the use of technology, the sign must be obtained, deciphered, and then it must be transmitted to the player who will make use of it. In the case of stealing pitch signs, the average pitch will take approximately 0.5 seconds to reach a batter upon leaving a pitcher's hand, leaving a hitter with less time than that to decide to either swing at or to take a pitch, and process the information being sent to him by his spotters.

If the batter decides to swing, we're talking about a sport in which failure to make meaningful contact (putting a ball in play that results in a successful at-bat) results in failure approximately 70-plus percent of the time. The player who manages (only) a 30% success rate is considered a "great" hitter.

Having foreknowledge of a pitch, then, seems to be of little advantage, at all.

As to the reaction of Major League Baseball against the Houston Astros, the Boston Red Sox, and unbelievably, the fallout that even affects the New York Mets (who have not been accused of anything, but somehow ended up losing a manager who never got to manage!): you can't be serious?

We're talking about a game which has a long and familiar history with cheating.

Spitballs. Doctoring baseballs. Dead-Ball versus Live-Ball eras. Corked Bats. Vaseline and Pine Tar where they aren't supposed to be. Nail files. Amphetamines. Steroids. Gambling. Moving fences. Unique and non-conforming playing arenas. An intelligence-gathering network working 24/7/365 to "scout" opposing teams and players that would make the CIA green with envy. Using video to spot tendencies and make adjustments to strategy and personal performance.

Baseball is all about "cheating"; it's all about discovering what the other guy is up to and countering him.

All sports are. That's competition.

How the information is gathered shouldn't be a concern. There's only 400 cameras at an MLB game to begin with, and video from 50,000 fans a night is probably available to most teams simply for the asking.

The idea that the PROCESS must be left sacrosanct while the END RESULT is hardly an afterthought is a ridiculous one. The game, in it's current state, sucks ass.

It's too long.

It's too boring.

Too many pitching/strategy changes driven by analytics that make little, if any, sense, and which have their origins in video games (no one seems to complain about those).

Primadonas in uniforms making stupid money to play every fifth day.

Interminable arguments over what is a strike, a ball, a hit, what's fair, what's foul, a balk, etc.

Stoppages for replays that usually don't resolve much of anything.

It's either all home runs or strikeouts now, anyway; there's no stolen bases, no hit-and-runs, no bunts, no continuous action and most nights a baseball game is a torture of watching two guys play catch for 3-plus hours.

So, if someone is stealing a sign and it speeds the game up by a few seconds (by getting someone out), or has an even better consequence of aiding OFFENSE -- and thus, ACTION --  which is sorely lacking, and furthermore, generating INTEREST, then I'm all for it.

Cheat your fucking asses off. Most of you do, anyway.

Especially those dinguses from the Dominican Republic with fake birth certificates that everyone nods and winks at. Why isn't anyone up in arms about that?

Right. Because their team didn't lose.

If the Other Guy has a problem with it, then there is are two simple solutions:

1) Change your fucking signs if you think they've been stolen (what? Baseball players are too dumb to remember more than one sign?).

2) Do it better than everyone else.

It's a competition, Asshole.

Regarding the griping about "baseball not doing anything" to adequately "punish" the "transgressors":

You do realize that baseball provided one of the tools allegedly used, i.e. the tv monitor in the dugout/clubhouse, when it introduced instant replay into the game? Do you think the Astros are the ONLY team to have used this in a way not originally intended, or just the first to get caught?

If you think the response was weak, understand, "baseball" is complicit in this travesty, and the longer this thing goes on the greater the chance someone might realize just who it was that left the door open on the bank vault.

Why do you think this farce of "an investigation and punishment" was immediately followed up by announcements for new playoff formats, "auto umpires", downgrading the role of the "lefty specialist"(total bullshit: if you're a lefty who can't pitch to righties you don't belong in the league to begin with), possible expansion and new methods of "speeding up the game" that will, in fact, make an already-too-long season even longer and turn the average 3 hour game into a 4-plus hour extravaganza of someone-please-shoot-me boring?

Because "baseball" understands it's role in helping this to happen by mandating instant replay and then not realizing the arrangement could/would be abused in this way, and by the lack of example it set when it looked the other way at steroid use -- and didn't punish anyone.

Sure, Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds doesn't get to go to the Hall of Fame (maybe), but Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds made a couple of hundred million between them. I'm sure they'll live...and well...and other than their pride, they weren't hurt as a consequence of their decisions and actions in any meaningful sense.

If you want to improve the game, speed it up, and attract more attention and fans, then stop putzing around with the rules. If you're going to "clean up the game", then enforce the rules you already have -- with actual punishments, like taking money away from people who cheat (yeah, I know: the players have the best union in all of human history. Fuck 'em).

If you want to make the game more exciting, then stop trying to remove the human elements from the sport with technology that can be abused.

 Stop rewarding players for being one-dimensional.

If you want to generate more buzz and interest, then shorten the season (the games will mean more), start playing more afternoon games (so kids can get to the ballpark or watch on television more frequently), bring back the regular weekend doubleheader (fan value for the entertainment dollar), and return the game to what it once was and not the Home Run/Strike Out Derby played by illegal aliens and suburban white boys that it has become (in other words, predictable, vanilla, and in Spanish).

Nothing bores an audience more than either Home Run or Strike Out, 11 pitching changes per game based on analytics, launch angles, exit velocities, stupid and meaningless stats endlessly repeated,  ballparks designed to either keep balls inside the park or allow them easier egress.

When I was a kid, 50 years ago, baseball was the shit.

Now it IS shit.

The decline started with millionaires going on strike twice within a decade and the cancellation of a World Series; it has only gotten worse with the millionaires becoming multi-millionaires. The decline of baseball is directly proportionate to the increase in player salaries and the individual ball club's attempt to get bang for the buck by hiring guys who are all stick and little else.

I stopped watching years ago. I think I have been to the ballpark once in the last 20 years. I'd rather watch minor league ball (more precisely, I'd prefer to watch hockey), which doesn't cost a kidney just to get a nosebleed seat, the eyes from your head for a beer, and an arm and a leg to park, and the product is superior because these guys are hungry to get to the next level and hustle. I still follow, from a distance, what happens in MLB, but you'll never get me to care enough to watch an All-Star Game (a complete travesty), or to give a fuck about the World Series (I much prefer Stanley Cup Hockey).

I watch exactly ZERO games on television, and maybe listen to two or three games a week on radio.

I certainly am under no illusions about the "integrity of the game", considering what we know has happened over the last two decades, if not the entire last century.

"Baseball" is synonymous with "cheating". Always has been, always will be. Manufacturing outrage over electronically stealing signs while condoning or accepting that signs will be stolen -- and firing people for it (not the players who did it, of course) -- is laying it on a bit thick.

It's a stupid argument to have in the first place.

And Pete Rose belongs in the Hall. Considering the crap that has made it there in recent years, it's becoming obvious that "greatness" is being defined way, way down.

No comments: