NEW YORK, NY – The Harlem Shaskys were launched in 1994 and are still humming. Our first game was again the Brooklyn Magic, a team of cugines dressed in Dodgers uniforms. They had wrist bands, eye-black, fancy bags etc… They were an hour early for the first pitch at Harlem River Park, where the FDR meets 128th Street in East Harlem. We were a ragtag bunch, comprised mostly of rugby players that hadn’t played baseball beyond Little League – if that. Yet we beat them 5-4 by basically cheating (more on that below). Yours truly was one of the few that had played some high school ball and went to an open tryout for the Cincinnati Reds on the University at Buffalo campus. Although I made it down to the final 9 (out of about 200), and went 1-2 with a walk and an error in 3 4 chances at 3rd base, I did not make the Reds. Shocking, right? If only I had known what I know now… how to cheat. That wisdom, along with Gerrit Cole’s nauseating pleas, bring us to this: Confessions of a Baseball Cheater.
Doctoring the baseball is as old as the hills. It only matters if you throw really hard, though. For us mere mortals, those that pump it up to 70MPH maybe twice a game when healthy, it won’t amount to but a hill of beans. It also damages the $8 ball that doesn’t get tossed aside until it’s absolutely unusable. To give some perspective, the teams in our league are to supply 3 balls each before the start of each 7-inning game. Do you know what it’s like playing with three balls?! Further, we play doubleheaders every Sunday. (If you can pitch, please contact me). That’s 6 balls for at 8 bucks a pop, per game – and that’s at a discount. This makes doctoring a ball a capital offense. There are no sticky palms mixed with rubbers in our league… So how can a pitcher cheat with doctoring? This cowboy stands 6 inches in front of the rubber and takes an extra step in the windup. It’s not until the 4th or 5th inning of a game that anyone notices. If I’ve lasted that long, I’ve done my job. Throw in constant quick-pitching and some occasional 55 mph chin music (which seems like 65 with the aforementioned adjustments), and you can be the Jake deGrom of the staff.
Getting yourself deep in the box, or sliding in and out of the box while the pitcher fiddles with the rubber, isn’t cheating. But it’s annoying and if you make a guy uncomfortable around a perfectly-formed mound, your results are going to be better. As for actual cheating, there’s the old-as-dirt craft of stealing signs. On our level, however, we’re such sh1tty baseball players to begin that the multitasking involved in simultaneously trying to hit and break a code ends up in whiff or meek come-backer to the guy fiddling with the rubber. You can’t rely on your teammates for this, as they are on their phones or distracted like moths to a candle by anything NOT related to the 14 innings of baseball on sticky Sunday on a sh1tty field. So… Wearing an elbow pad and using it to get hit by a curveball is the blatant way to engage in diamond shenanigans. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Your instincts tell you to get out of the way, plus the rules state you are supposed to at least make an attempt to avoid getting hit. Pretending to get out of the way and getting that elbow pad is an art. It’s also the most athletic thing many of those in this league can pull off… and they way that first Shasky team beat the cugines from Brooklyn. As was taking out the 2nd baseman on steals even when the play wasn’t close… Another way to cheat, and one yours truly defaults to, is the ‘ol corked bat. For me, it turns soft liners to the shortstop or 2nd baseman (I swing both ways) into one-hop hits to the outfielders. Like a petty thief, singles don’t attract a lot of attention… Oh, and back to the switch-hitting. I’ll switch back and forth during an AB just to f**k with the other team. And no, there is no rule saying a hitter can’t do that. Is it cheating? No. But annoying works, too.
Cheating, like prostitution, has always been there – particularly in baseball.
That’s all for me today but speaking of rubbers, mounds and sticky palms, come back tomorrow for Cheesy Bruin. Comment below first, though, and have a look a this: