Fair Play Lines Blurred in MLB “Cheating” Controversy

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So was it wrong or not? It’d hardly be out of character for a member of the Boston Media to summon the spirit of righteous indignation when the New York Yankees dispatch the Boston Red Sox like they did Thursday night, winning 4-1 on the back of what appeared to be pine tar on the base of Michael Pineda’s palm. But even MassLive lead off their coverage by saying that, “It’s one of the unwritten codes in baseball: When it’s chilly, pitchers do anything to get a good grip,” and no less a Fenway deity than David Ortiz pointed out that, “Everyone [does it]. It’s no big deal.”

David Ross, catcher for the Red Sox, delivered the definitive point on the evening’s discussion. “I would rather the guy know where the ball is going and have a good grip, for me, personally,” Ross told MassLive. “As long as I’ve played there’s guys always trying to make sure they’ve got a grip when there is cold weather, early on. Maybe it’s cheating, but I don’t really look at it that way. Some guys might, but not me, personally.”

The curious thing about it is that only the fans seem to get upset about it. Well, that, and the fact that, according to the rulebook, it’s cheating. The rulebook does, helpfully, provide the punishment for the offense — “the pitcher shall be ejected immediately from the game and shall be suspended automatically. In National Association Leagues, the automatic suspension shall be for 10 games.” Harsh.

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