Ethics lessons with Gaylord Perry

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Cheating is wrong. Except when it’s not. Man, why don’t people cheat more? An interview with the king of the spitter from Syracuse.com:

In terms of ethics and cheating, how much difference is there between throwing a spitter and using steroids?

“There’s a tremendous amount. You try things, you try to improve (in looking for a small edge). Back in the 1960s and 70s, we played hard. We had a good time.”

Does he think any of today’s pitchers throw a spitter?

“No, I don’t think they do it. They have good enough stuff throwing 95, 100. I’ve seen pitchers throw out scuffed up balls. I don’t know why they do that. A scuffed-up ball will move for you. That’s what you want.”

I don’t think that throwing a spitball and using PEDs are exactly the same thing. They are both cheating and if your argument is “cheating is wrong, full stop” well, you have to figure out why you treat them differently, but I do realize that there are some externalities to PEDs that don’t necessarily exist with scuffing baseballs.

Still, I don’t feel like we’ve spent enough time actually sussing out what kind of “looking for an edge” is OK and what kind is not.

Look for a lot of this disconnect in the next few days as the old Hall of Famers descend on Cooperstown for induction weekend.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.