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Pitcher-Turned-Law Student On Cheating In Baseball 276

Posted by timothy
from the sports-builds-character dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As a 27-year old minor league pitcher who had never made it to "The Show" (ballplayers' slang for the big leagues), Garrett Broshius was advised by a coach to develop an 'out pitch' by cheating (doctoring or scuffing the baseball while standing on the mound). It was an ethical crossroads faced by many players past and present, and Broshius ultimately decided to give up the game. While a student at the St. Louis University School of Law, he wrote a paper that attempted to apply the tenets of legal theorists to the rampant cheating in baseball and other sports (click the 'download' button, no registration required). While Broshius' paper isn't brilliant or novel, it tours the techniques and issues surrounding cheating in baseball better than most. Broshius concludes with recommendations for how baseball should handle two classes of cheating: 'traditional' cheating of the type he was advised to do by the coach, which has achieved acceptance in some quarters as part of the game; and 'new era' cheating involving performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids, which has become prominent in the last 25 years. Oh, and Brosius remarks that in almost every baseball game he watches these days, he notices something suspicious — usually from the pitcher."
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Pitcher-Turned-Law Student On Cheating In Baseball

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  • Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Thursday May 30, 2013 @12:19PM (#43861949) Homepage Journal

    I don't care what sport it is - when contracts worth millions of dollars are on the line, there will always be talented people willing to do whatever they have to in order to stay competitive and even excel.

    • Re:Money (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 30, 2013 @12:34PM (#43862147)

      Like international finance. My favourite sport.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        You're right. There is tons of cheating in many other professions. It's just that in most other professions, they don't have "rule books" so it's a lot less obvious when someone is breaking the rules. Also, because the "game" is played behind closed doors, without a ton of spectators, it's must less likely that they will get caught.
        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          Hell, bring it to a more normal every day level.

          Most people will do what it takes to get what they want in life...period.

          Lying to women to get laid...check

          Speeding to get a delivery made quicker and have low turnaround time....check

          Checking your answer on a test with your neighbors'....check

          When competition is up for ANYTHING....people that are really driven to succeed, will often do what it takes to win. Sure, I'd say most people prefer to do everything honest and aboveboard (I'm an optimist), but I a

    • by Minwee (522556)

      If they're using Excel to play baseball, then they're doing something wrong.

      Then again, I wouldn't be surprised to see someone abusing Access in that way.

      • Maybe you were going for funny, but Excel was exactly what the Oakland Athletics, and later the Boston Red Sox used to succeed...as depicted in Moneyball [imdb.com].
    • there will always be talented people willing to do whatever they have to in order to stay competitive and even excel.

      Cheating isn't competition or excellence.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      I don't care what sport it is - when contracts worth millions of dollars are on the line, there will always be talented people willing to do whatever they have to in order to stay competitive and even excel.

      Stay competitive, maybe, but if one is cheating then technically, they aren't excelling, they are, well, cheating.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @12:19PM (#43861953)

    baseball needs more replay

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @12:19PM (#43861961)

    Just as long it is about sports, we don't care about right and wrong or morals. But if a Scholastic student who wasn't good at sports did it. They will be locked up in jail for the rest of their life.

    • Re:But thats OK! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @12:26PM (#43862019)

      Just as long it is about sports, we don't care about right and wrong or morals.

      IMO our society has a ridiculous fixation on sports.

      • by Laxori666 (748529)
        What? Nooo [smbc-comics.com]..
      • Re:But thats OK! (Score:4, Informative)

        by internerdj (1319281) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @12:57PM (#43862447)
        A baseball scholarship put my wife's oldest brother through an engineering degree. It is also putting my wife's youngest brother through school although he doesn't really know what he wants to do other than baseball. My kids are playing but I'm not sure I want them to be successful with it beyond college. Too much pressure to do amoral or destructive things to get an edge, but I guess that is the case with most high profile success areas.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Penguinisto (415985)

        IMO our society has a ridiculous fixation on sports.

        The good news is, once you figure out that sports == crap, and ignore it? It frees up a metric ton of time and money for the stuff that's actually fun to do.

        OTOH, I think it's not the fact that we have made-up conflicts as entertainment, but the fact that the conflicts themselves *are* the entertainment. Dress it up all you like, but people love to see conflict (and more importantly, love to see the realization of victory from that conflict, even if by proxy). That's what drives movies, books, TV shows (not

      • My wife would probably argue I have a ridiculous fixation with tinkering with my phone. Usually I end up temporarily breaking it due to flashing the latest version of cyanogenmod.

        Many people have hobbies, be they sports, software, computers, or other electronics. Our hobbies just tend to be a little rarer than sports fans.
        • The point isn't as much that these people like sports, but the Double Standard that applies to People who are in sports and not.

          A teen is caught smoking pot. If they are an A student, the school will have them expelled from school, this person is obviously a bad influence.
          A teen is caught smoking pot. If they are a Sports star (even if they signed some stay clean pledge), public outcry, you need to keep this kid in school, he has a gift, and expelling him is so horrible, he is a good kid... On and on.

  • Cheating in sports? Who'd of thought it!

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @12:29PM (#43862075) Homepage Journal

    after he gave up drinking for a time to please Marge:

    I never realized how boring this game is.

  • by simonbp (412489) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @12:29PM (#43862081) Homepage

    Isn't that kinda the point of baseball? It's only cheating if they catch you? Is a scuffed ball any different from stealing a base?

    • Isn't that kinda the point of baseball? It's only cheating if they catch you? Is a scuffed ball any different from stealing a base?

      Stealing a base is a legally allowed move in the game, so yes it is very different.

    • by Abstrackt (609015) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @01:18PM (#43862697)

      Stealing a base is more like taking your time when your opponent forgots to stop their clock in a game of speed chess. It's not cheating so much as taking advantage of inattentiveness.

      • by niado (1650369)
        Another interesting example is fouling in basketball. You are legally not allowed to foul in the game, but fouling happens constantly and the players are only punished for a small fraction of the fouls that occur. Fouling is openly used in various strategies, and players often have trouble mitigating the advantages gained by fouling because free throws are difficult, and referees are not omniscient.
    • Stealing a base is done out in the open and in no way can be considered cheating.
  • by schwit1 (797399) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @12:36PM (#43862183)

    Slow play and umps that can't find the strike zone with a telescope

    Coaches should get red flag just like football so replay could be used. Replays should be done at MLB HQ like the NHL does it.

    MLB should institute an automated strike zone and a pitch clock when no one is on base.

    • If I had points I'd mod you up. Make the game faster. Use electronic scoring for pitches, so all things are equal. Not 1 ref has this strike zone, this ref has that one, etc.

      Baseball is quickly becoming the last sport in America and the oldest (in the fans that watch). I can't watch it. They start the World Series like after 9PM EST, games are 3.5-4hrs long. Yeah I have to be up for work, so yeah not staying up for that. SO I haven't watched world series in many years.

      • by CoderBob (858156) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @01:02PM (#43862503)

        The World Series starts after 9PM because much earlier than that and you leave out the west coast TV market. 9PM EST = 6 PM Pacific.

        Perhaps I am an oddity, but I find basketball much more annoying to watch than baseball, and football really isn't any better. In terms of continuous action, I would put forth that the NHL is actually the most "gameplay" for the length of a game.

        I'm not saying Football and baseball are "equal" in downtime, but if you start adding up the time between a play being declared dead and the actual start of the next play (not men lining up, but when the ball is snapped), I think that the amount of time that is spent not "playing" the game becomes more comparable. Yeah, there's a clock counting down, but what is the actual run-time of a typical football game at this point? 3.5, 4 hours?

        • football usually right around 3. I usually start a game at 1 and it's over by 4, sometimes 4:15.

          I get your point about west coast, but 5pm is late enough and you're not leaving out cause game would still be getting over at 5pm start 9pm. I don't care about watching first few innings. Plus the majority of Baseball fans are northeast/East Coast compared to other area's, you're cutting out you're biggest supporters. Also, the metric shows you're loosing young people. And I know my sports interest stem fro

          • by pulski (126566)

            Don't forget that NFL Football is played mostly on Sunday. Monday and Thursday games are played at night, starting at 8:30pm Eastern. Baseball is played 7 days a week.

        • The World Series starts after 9PM because much earlier than that and you leave out the west coast TV market. 9PM EST = 6 PM Pacific.

          Perhaps I am an oddity, but I find basketball much more annoying to watch than baseball, and football really isn't any better. In terms of continuous action, I would put forth that the NHL is actually the most "gameplay" for the length of a game.

          I'm not saying Football and baseball are "equal" in downtime, but if you start adding up the time between a play being declared dead and the actual start of the next play (not men lining up, but when the ball is snapped), I think that the amount of time that is spent not "playing" the game becomes more comparable. Yeah, there's a clock counting down, but what is the actual run-time of a typical football game at this point? 3.5, 4 hours?

          Though I gave up watching any sports years ago, football actually has things going on before the ball is snapped: man in motion actually does change play. But Aussie rules football kicks ass on all other sports.

          • by CoderBob (858156)

            Man in motion does change play, yes, but to me it's in the same category as a pitcher shaking off signs from the catcher. They both can be important to the outcome, but they aren't "exciting" the way a long fly ball is, or watching a running back shake off a couple of tacklers. Most of the complaints I hear or read about the pace of baseball are based on the time between the pitcher throwing the ball and then the ball coming back to the pitcher, which leaves out the arts of shortening the lead of a base-r

        • by alen (225700)

          true, but in hockey and soccer it seems like all they do is pass the puck/ball around for 2 hours with one or two points scored in a game

          • by CoderBob (858156)

            Hockey for me was an acquired taste, probably from exposure to the Redwings growing up in Michigan, and then moving to Grand Rapids where their AHL farm team is. The Griffins are even in the AHL playoffs this year, so I get bonus hockey after the Redwings bowed out against Chicago last night.

            The best hockey games are really the low-scoring ones where both teams are very evenly matched and playing all-out, which happens more often now that their is a cap system. If it is a low-scoring game because both tea

        • by jfengel (409917)

          The episodic nature of football can be an advantage. The ball is only in play for a few seconds at a time, but an awful lot happens in those few seconds. 22 players are each doing something very specific and highly coordinated. The play is worth watching from several different angles to appreciate all that's going on.

          TV timeouts and other things have dragged that out much further than is interesting: commercials are never fun. But that's the thing with continuous play sports like soccer: you can cut away fr

    • by alen (225700)

      they do replays for some plays, but i've read the equipment they use is 90's era TV's

      no money for new equipment

    • I've also heard suggestions that a larger ball should be used, that baseball is too pitcher-centric, and that slowing down the pitches would encourage more interesting aspects of the game. Seems like reducing the importance of the pitcher would also reduce the incentive to have pitchers cheat.

      I don't claim to know anything about baseball, so that could be an idiotic idea. If it is... well I'm still an idiot, but that suggestion isn't a reflection of that fact.
  • Walk Away (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak.eircom@net> on Thursday May 30, 2013 @12:36PM (#43862189) Homepage Journal

    There's only one solution to a completely corrupt system. Walk away from it. Broshius made the correct decision by leaving the game behind him.

    You cannot change a corrupted institution from within. I'll repeat that. You cannot change a corrupted institution from within. There are too many people inside who have spent their lives justifying and profiting from their misdeeds, who are not about to turn over a new leaf or air their dirty laundry because you've made an appeal to their conscience. They killed theirs long ago.

    The best thing to do is leave the rotten ship to sink all by itself. Every honest person who stands by a rotten game, or bankrupted bank, or broken political party is just propping up an at best amoral system, and usually an immoral and even illegal one. There is no obligation to stay loyal or remain in solidarity with a disloyal and dishonest organisation.

    Broshius has done more for baseball as a law student that he ever could have as a player or a fan.

    • by Spudley (171066)

      There's only one solution to a completely corrupt system. Walk away from it. Broshius made the correct decision by leaving the game behind him.

      You cannot change a corrupted institution from within. I'll repeat that. You cannot change a corrupted institution from within. There are too many people inside who have spent their lives justifying and profiting from their misdeeds, who are not about to turn over a new leaf or air their dirty laundry because you've made an appeal to their conscience. They killed theirs long ago.

      The best thing to do is leave the rotten ship to sink all by itself. Every honest person who stands by a rotten game, or bankrupted bank, or broken political party is just propping up an at best amoral system, and usually an immoral and even illegal one. There is no obligation to stay loyal or remain in solidarity with a disloyal and dishonest organisation.

      Broshius has done more for baseball as a law student that he ever could have as a player or a fan.

      I've quoted the above comment in full because it deserves repeating.

      Well said. I came here to post pretty much the same thing, but I won't bother, since you said it so well.

    • by Agent0013 (828350)
      I think this applies to police also.
  • by Guano_Jim (157555) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @12:38PM (#43862209)

    I've been trying to download this "baseball" game all morning and all every website I visit just shows me a bunch of sweaty dudes in pajamas.

    They're using wooden controllers (!) and even worse, they're outside. Is this a beta? wtf

    • Don't worry. If you are posting to slashdot without anyone having introduced it to you at this point then you are so far behind the learning curve it isn't worth picking up a copy.
      • by matrim99 (123693)
        No worries, you can always buy the DLC (steroids) that everyone is complaining about as being Pay to Win.
    • OUTSIDE?? (Score:4, Funny)

      by washort (6555) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @01:28PM (#43862823) Homepage
      Aren't there bears outside?
    • I've been trying to download this "baseball" game all morning and all every website I visit just shows me a bunch of sweaty dudes in pajamas.

      They're using wooden controllers (!) and even worse, they're outside. Is this a beta? wtf

      Be careful, adult videos/websites are *really* going to confuse you... Similar wooden controllers though.

  • batters kick dirt onto the batters box to make it harder to call a strike
    catchers call the pitch and jump in or outward just before its thrown. or move their glove after its caught to increase the amount of strikes
    pitchers are always rubbing their sweaty heads right before throwing the ball

    in the end it doesn't really help. a good pitcher is good for 100 some pitches. but these tough guys are always telling the manager they are OK in the 6th inning right before they give up a bunch of runs. or a few pitcher

  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @12:38PM (#43862219)
    So the guy has an ethical dilemma with an out pitch but not with becoming an attorney? I have yet to meet an attorney that didn't employ at least a few ethically questionable tactics.
    • It's called saving face. The coach didn't have much faith in his skill and encouraged scuffing the ball to improve his performance. In the end, he did right thing. Instead of resorting to cheating to improve his chances of making it to the major leagues, he realized his limitations and chose a new career path instead. He decided to become a lawyer. Lawyers know how to put a positive spin on anything, and he demonstrates how he is a natural.
    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      I have actually met some ethical lawyers. They aren't Johnny Cochrane, they also aren't Atticus Finch, but many of them do very ordinary things like draw up contracts that accurately describe the agreements their bosses came to. There are also guys like Lawrence Lessig and Ray Beckermann (NewYorkCountryLawyer) who try to put their skills to use for what they see as the greater good.

      • by ArhcAngel (247594)
        I never said I hadn't met a lawyer who used their power for good. Even the good ones employ devious tactics at some point. Kind of a nature of the beast thing. I also don't doubt there are lawyers who do not use said tactics but their numbers are statistically insignificant.
        • by niado (1650369)

          I also don't doubt there are lawyers who do not use said tactics but their numbers are statistically insignificant.

          I'm pretty sure a large portion of lawyers basically spend their careers drawing up contracts and filing bankruptcy's and other mundane things, with little opportunity to employ shady tactics.

          But I'm being pedantic here - everyone gets your point.

    • The entire profession is absent ethics. They love the argument, not the Truth.
  • having the ball fly crazy won't make the batter try to hit it. a good pitcher like Justin verlander has control of the ball. he can aim a pitch onto the outside of the strike zone to trick the batter. a good pitcher will know the batter's habits and style of swing and adjust his pitches for that.

    a good batter will avoid swinging at a bad pitch

    sounds like this guy did a study on a few pitchers who had no chance to make it to the majors and tried to cheat their way in which would not have worked anyway since

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      a good pitcher will know the batter's habits and style of swing and adjust his pitches for that. a good batter will avoid swinging at a bad pitch

      Yogi Berra said it better: "Good pitching beats good hitting, and vice versa."

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Lets not forget, most batters have decided to swing before the ball is released.
      For most swings, their is no conscious decision to swing once the pitcher finished the wind up. Not enough time. less then .5 seconds.

      Anything you can do to the ball that hides the pitchers intent hurt the batters odds of a hit.

  • So a minor leaguer who didn't cut the mustard decides that everyone in the Majors is cheating? Color me surprised.

  • If you ain't cheaten, you ain't winnin.
  • Everyone gets tested after a game, any single person come sup positive, then game is considered a loss. Happens twice, they give up 25% of merchandising for a year.

    Make it an incentive for the owners to fix it, and the owners will fix it.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      Everyone gets tested after a game, any single person come sup positive, then game is considered a loss. Happens twice, they give up 25% of merchandising for a year.

      Make it an incentive for the owners to fix it, and the owners will fix it.

      End result: Every single team purposely throws a "cheater" into the drug testing mix, resulting in losses for every single team. Happens twice, and the entire franchise is dinged 25% on merchandising, causing the merchandisers to be punished, creating a 30% markup to account for losses. Fans are the ones ultimately punished.

      C'mon man, you gotta do better than that. I promise you that is what would happen when billions are at stake. They would band together quicker than oil companies fixing gas prices j

    • False positives (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dtmos (447842) * on Thursday May 30, 2013 @03:05PM (#43864153)

      Everyone gets tested after a game, any single person come sup [sic] positive, then game is considered a loss. Happens twice, they give up 25% of merchandising for a year.

      Fine, except that the tests are not perfect, and false positives exist. Think about it -- suppose the test was 99% accurate, but produced 1% false positives. There are 25 people on an MLB team, and the team plays an average of 6.3 games per week. That's an average of 25 * 6.3 = 157.5 tests per team per week, which will produce an average of 1.575 false positives per team per week, or 1.575 * 26 = almost 41 false positives in a 26-week season. Per team.

      There are 30 teams in MLB, so under your proposal one is looking at (157.5 tests per team per week) * (30 teams) * (26 weeks per season) = 122,850 drug tests every season. The false positive rate would have to get down into the parts per million range to do anything other than punish random team owners for the finite quality of drug tests. The effect could, in fact, be counterproductive; with so many false positives, the actual drug users could be emboldened to hide among them.

  • ... and would chalk up players who are "caught" cheating as all part of how the games are rigged, done solely to keep fans interested in the game by trying to reinforce the notion to the fans that it's not fixed.
  • by puddingebola (2036796) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @01:35PM (#43862905) Journal
    I think he left out a third category of cheating: cheating that transcends the sport and becomes an object of admiration among fans. The textbook example would be Gaylord Perry. One of the more interesting sports interviews I've heard involved Perry describing his elaborate routines to keep the opposition guessing where he had hidden a gob of vaseline. Apparently there were people on the opposing team whose job it was to watch him during the game and try to catch him cheating. The vaseline, of course, moved from his pant leg, to his cap, to the back of his neck, which he rubbed to loosen up... etc. I agree with a previous post that the economic rewards are too large to stop it, but I admire the author of this article of refusing to take part. It is possible, I think, however, for people to become so accustomed to cheating that they accept some forms of it as part of the game. Gaylord perry demonstrating a spitter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXLc8hKoaBw [youtube.com]
  • "The Show" = Big Leagues = Major League Baseball, the highest professional baseball league.

    Note that there is no question at all that MLB is the best professional baseball league. This is not like soccer/football where fans night argue that the EPL or Bundesliga or La Liga or some other league is the best. MLB to every other baseball league is like the EPL to MLS or worse.

    The fact that Broshuis (his name is misspelled on the original post) was asked to cheat is a good indicator that on talent
    • by Spudley (171066)

      The fact that Broshuis (his name is misspelled on the original post) was asked to cheat is a good indicator that on talent alone he wasn't good enough for MLB.

      Hmmm, well that assumes that everyone else is playing honestly.

      If his assertion of rampant cheating is accurate then no, it doesn't indicate anything.

  • Since baseball is pretty much 1% playtime, 99% dicking around, they should eat into the 99% by inspecting every single thrown ball, lol.
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @02:43PM (#43863863) Journal

    While I think the performance-enhancing drugs take things way too far, I don't know how much of an ethical dilemma I see with such tactics as figuring out a way to scuff up the baseball before throwing it, to try to achieve some unpredictability?

    I'd tend to side more with the "it's just part of the game" camp on that, because when it comes right down to it? It's all about making it as difficult as you can for the batter to hit what you throw at him. A regulation baseball has certain parameters to it that can't be changed without substituting it for a modified ball, and to me THAT'S where you'd want to draw the line on what's allowed. I mean, if the weight of the ball is drastically altered or you use a smaller or larger ball, that's just as much a change as, say, scooting the bases closer together on the field.

    As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather see the rest of it just be out in the open. Say "No, we simply don't CARE if you think you have some secret tactic to gouge up the ball a little bit or scuff up its surface before pitching it. Go for it if you think it helps you!" You're always going to have small changes that potentially give small advantages to those who take advantage of them. I'm pretty sure there are certain types of shoes with certain cleat patterns which wind up giving some slight advantage over others too. Are we going to get so anal, we require only shoes with soles matching a precise pattern and dimensions, or else it's "cheating"?

    (And honestly, even on the whole drugs issue? The biggest reason I have any problem with that is because it wasn't widely in use or even available in previous generations -- yet part of the game involves tracking records and seeing who is talented enough to break them over time. It's not a fair "A to B" comparison anymore between the "old time greats" and today's players, if the modern players are all juiced up. If the sport actually came out and said, "We consider performance enhancing drugs to be fair play." and ALSO said a line would be drawn where old statistics were "frozen in time" and everything effectively started over? Then I'd be hard pressed to find a reason to call it "cheating" anymore. (I might not like the fact it encourages people to treat their own bodies as disposable for the purpose of getting a little more of an edge in the game ... but that's each individual's own decision to make.)

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