Cheating: It's All Good, Until You Get Caught
Every time there is a question about baseball players or managers cheating, I get about 15,000 calls for quotes from journalists all over the world. After all, I was the GM of the New York Mets, and we had Bobby Valentine as our manager, and he cheated like a Navy wife. Oh, sure, I know you're all just thinking about the mustache-in-the-dugout thing -- but I'm talking about full-on 100% cheating and deception with the intent to defraud. And it was all done with my complete approval, because I was the kind of GM that always supported his managers and coaches and players, no matter what.
We got away with it most of the time because we just kept trying, and when you try that hard you usually succeed. One time, I remember, we went on a seven-game win streak with nothing but 100% corked bats and free Viagra in the dugout. (Boy, you should have seen the effect that had on old Al Leiter one day! Kinda gave the expression "knuckle-curve" a whole new meaning.) And we got away with it, too. If there's any lesson Brendan Donnelly can take away from this whole thing, it's just this: Don't give up! If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
I am actually surprised that Frank Robinson got so mad. I mean, what, HE never cheated? That's not what I hear around the ol' grapevine, if you know what I'm saying. Where did those out-of-nowhere 49 dingers in 1966 come from, Frank? If the scuttlebutt is to be believed...well, I've said too much. (Five words for the inquisitive: ILLEGAL BODY-MODIFICATION SURGERY IN GUATEMALA. But that's all I'm saying.)
The thing is, cheating is an important part of baseball history and lore. Gaylord Perry's spitter is nothing compared with Sandy Koufax's ritual mutilation of the baseball using the razor-sharp nails of his pinky finger, or Mark Fidrych wiping his own feces on the ball. (What, you thought all that talking to himself jazz was real? Come on, people, that was classic misdirection, every magician learns that on the first day!) The only thing wrong with Sammy Sosa's corked bat was that he got caught. The way they make the baseballs all cold and damp in Arizona before games against big sluggers...geez, that trick's as old as Gammons. And the guys who used to sit up in center field at Shea and steal signals using telephoto lenses and transmit signals to our hitters via Morse code: American heroes. That's the way the ball bounces.
I know MLB doesn't want young people to know all this stuff, but I don't care; we're talking about a grown man's game now. Speaking of grown men, I find it pretty funny that John Kruk thinks that Jose Guillen should be drilled for telling his team about the pine tar. First of all, that is known far and wide as "Move your feet, lose your seat" -- if a team trades you, they have to change their tactics, because it is ASSUMED that you're going to tattle on them. If anything, Scoscia should be drilling himself for letting Donnelly continue with the pine tar trick instead of moving him over to another, better system as soon as Guillen was gone.
And it seems pretty curious that Kruk is upset about squealing. Maybe he doesn't remember a certain All-Star Game when he bailed out on three straight Randy Johnson pitches because he was being a big chicken. Sure, people laughed, but that's not baseball. When you get up to bat, you stand there and deal with what's thrown at you, rather than tucking your tail between your legs and mincing back to the dugout. And from what I hear, Kruk, you pull one heck of a hidden-ball trick!
So my very strong feeling is that there should be more cheating. And you should listen to what I say. After all, I was the GM of the mighty New York Mets. Now if you'll excuse me, I have more than 347,000 people asking me for interviews about managers and cheating and players and steroids and some other things that I cannot remember because there are so many of them.
Steve Phillips is a Baseball Tonight regular. He is the former GM of the New York Mets.