By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
Major League Baseball just can’t get this right from the 1919 Chicago White Sox World Series scandal to New York Yankee pitcher Gerrit Cole putting a foreign substance on the baseball on the mound, cheating has always been a part of this game.
To add insult to injury they have even added a taste of racism into the mix by putting players of color as the targets of the games. Baseball does not want to fix the corked bats, spit balls, pine tar, steroids, and trash cans, video signals, and gambling, this is Major League Baseball. Top it off with some players and managers following the unwritten rules of the game which changes at the drop of a hat, i.e. Tony LaRussa manager of the Chicago White Sox.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Let’s begin with the American League Champion 1919 Chicago White Sox. Members of the team were bribed to lose games in the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. In August of the following year, after grand jury testimony, new Commissioner Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis banned all eight accused players from the game for life. Baseball is still trying to shake this image but takes a little effort to make major changes.
RACISM IN BASEBALL
The second cheating scandal is the ugly mark banning African Americans from America’s pastime until 1947 this was done under the guidance of Commissioner Landis and the “gentleman’s agreement” to keep Black players out of the game. The ban ended two and a half years after Landis’ death with the Brooklyn Dodgers drafting Jackie Robinson. He would become a superstar on the diamond for the African American community.
Robinson was not the best player in the Negro Leagues. Josh Gibson, catcher for the Homestead Grays, had the home run record and was clearly the best defensive player in the Negro Leagues. White owners were scared Mr. Gibson would not back down when challenged by white players and would speak his mind, creating unwanted tension on the field. Remember, it was 1948.
Jackie Robinson internalized this feeling with quiet thunder at the plate, rain on the base path, and sunshine on the field. Robinson became The Rookie of the year. Times have not changed that much in baseball.
Baseball is still dealing with a race problem after the Black MLB renaissance of the 1960s and 1970s. In that decade, African Americans had 29% players on the field. Black participation is currently down below 8%, with only 62 players currently in the majors. Three teams currently do not have a single Black player on their squad. This is CHEATING the African American public, robbing them of another chance of watching another Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, or Dusty Baker making fantastic catches or driving in the game winning run.
We also may be watching the last collection of the sons of former Black MLB stars with Detroit outfielder Daz Cameron (son of All-Star Mike Cameron), Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero (son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero), and Pittsburgh’s Ke’Bryan Hayes (son of All Star Charlie Hayes).
Black teenagers and young adults do not like the way baseball is currently promoting itself with white players (Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Jacob deGrom) and not embracing Black players (Mookie Betts, Aaron Judge, Andrew McCutcheon) in a similar vein.
Major League Baseball is still punishing the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates and 2015 Kansas City Royals. The Pirates for fielding an all Black starting lineup including Black Latino players, and the Royals for playing offense like the old Negro Leagues and winning the American League pennant in 2015. They’ve only participated in the World Series twice in the past 50 years.
Baseball stated it did not want gambling in the game and excluded superstar Pete Rose for that very act, gambling. Two years ago, MLB invited the online gambling giants Fan Duel and Draft Kings to be a part of MLB. It is time to let Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame for his baseball statistics. Do the right thing.
The Major Leagues will not regulate itself and it impedes the progress to improve its own game. It has been over 100 years of baseball and 100 years of CHEATING. In the early days it was the spit ball which made the ball dip before it went over the plate. Many pitchers wore belt buckles to hold up their paints and would rub the baseball against the belt buckle to scare the baseball; again the ball would dip before it crossed the plate. Now pitchers use light colored chemicals on the ball. If you’re not cheating you’re not trying is the current baseball motto. Yes even when a batter steps up in the batters box and puts his lead foot outside of the batters box to get an early swing on a curve ball before it breaks over the plate. THAT IS CHEATING.
In 1988 Jay Howell of the Los Angeles Dodgers was pitching against the New York Mets in the National League Championship game. A substance was in Howell’s glove and then Commissioner Bartlett Giamatti was in attendance and witnessed this offense. Howell was escorted off the field.
Last week, New York’s Cole put his name in the record book for using a chemical substance on a baseball. Just as another Yankee (Michael Pineda) put pine tar on his neck in 2014. The scorn was swift against Pineda as he was ejected and was later traded to Minnesota while the baseball world is silent on the Cole indiscretion.
Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro made cheating famous with a hair commercial in the 1970s and making fun of the fact that he altered baseballs on the mound. It was funny until batting averages started dropping in 2021.
Batters also got into the act like George Brett of the Kansas City Royals after he hit a winning homer in Yankee Stadium. Pine tar covered that bat and Brett was called out. Other batters used corked bats like Chris Sabo of the Cincinnati Reds and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs both Sabo and Sosa were ejected from their games. Sosa became the poster boy for corked bats after the “Summer of Love,” and MLB rode Sosa out of the game. Television stations all over America played the video of Sosa’s bat shattering on Wrigley Field over and over and over again.
It was o.k. for Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun, pitchers Curt Schilling-Boston-Philadelphia, Roger Clemens-Boston-New York-Houston, first basemen Ken Caminiti-Houston, outfielder Jose Canseco and first basemen Mark McGwire-Oakland A’s to play the game with steroids.
The latest three suspensions are pitcher Paul Campbell -Miami Marlins, second basemen Robinson Cano, New York Mets and pitcher Francis Martes, Houston Astros. It was o.k. until Barry Lamar Bonds-Pittsburgh Pirates-San Francisco Giants lit up the home run race with 73 homers in one season, passing Hank Aaron for the carrier home run record 762. Then steroids became a problem.
MLB froze Barry Lamar Bonds out of the game for three years while Ryan Braun returned to the outfield in Milwaukee-All is forgiven play on, really? Now imagine if Barry Lamar Bonds had played those three missing years what the home-run total would have been. Bonds told baseball that he was better than Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire and then proved it. HOW DARE YOU!
This is one art that starts in little league. The manager would give one player a job to watch the first base coach and another player the third base coach and compare notes at the end of the inning. The base runner at second base would look into the catcher to see what signs he was flashing to the pitcher. The runner would try to relay what he saw to the batter at the plate. The runner would cross his hands or feet for a curveball or move in front of second base for a fast ball. THAT IS CHEATING but it is baseball.
HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM
Top it off the Houston Astros created a system to steal pitches and relay it to the batters by bashing trash cans with the aid of a video camera in the outfield from 2017 to 2018. They would not hit the cans for fast balls two bangs curve ball or breaking pitch and the hitter would smack the ball out of the park with this knowledge. Houston went to the playoffs three years in a row. The Houston Astros were fined five million dollars the league limit, owner Luhnow suspended along with manager A.J. Hinch for the 2020 season. The Astros fired Hinch and moved on with Dusty Baker as manager to clean up the mess and the games went on. Remember folks the Houston Astros were a Latino laden team between 2016-2018 and they have to pay.
Two more managers were causalities of the Houston baseball scandal Alex Cora-Boston Red Sox and Carlos Beltran-New York Mets, both were members of the Houston Astros coaching staff at the time, both are Latino.
All of this is going on and this year there have been seven no hitters this season and it is only June. In the 100 year history of baseball there have only been two complete seasons with seven no hitters.
Strikeouts are off the charts this year and climbing while runs and batting averages have dropped to the 1969 level and we all know what baseball did after that year. They lowered the pitcher’s mound-The Bob Gibson-St. Louis Cardinal effect. The Lords of Baseball are discussing changing the mound again.
How about this, teach the players to hit and run, bunt, steal bases, how about inducing sacrifice flys to score runs. That is basic baseball, currently on the field today it is a strikeout or homerun and that stinks. Baseball fans want to bring strategy back into the game and stop cheating.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian, Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston, Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor News Radio Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email email@example.com
©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod.