The old adage goes something along the lines of "Cheaters never prosper." Actually, that's exactly how it goes — but baseball players have ignored this pearl of wisdom seemingly since the dawn of the professional age.
With as many ways to cheat as the day is long — between stealing signs, using an excessive amount of pine tar and a whole host of others — baseball sometimes is not so much a game of who can score the most runs, but who can cheat and get away with it successfully.
Two ways in particular, however, stand out — and neither of them are steroids, as that is not a direct in-game method of cheating.
The first is corking a bat. In order to cork a bat, one must drill down from the bat's head several inches and then fill the resulting small hole with cork or some similarly lighter-density substance. This has the effect of making the bat lighter while keeping it the same length, which gives hitters a quicker swing and possibly better timing. While the common perception is that corking a bat makes the ball go farther, this has never been categorically proven or disproven.
Six players have been caught using corked bats in games, most notably Sammy Sosa in 2003. Despite claiming that it was a batting practice bat, Sosa was hit with an eight-game suspension.
The second way is doctoring a ball. This is a wildly more loose definition than simply corking a bat, as anything from rubbing dirt on the ball to digging chunks out of it with a nail clipper would qualify. The desired effect is to create more and different movement on pitches, but the practice was effectively banned after an assumed spitball killed Ray Chapman in 1920 — still the only professional baseball player to suffer an on-field fatality.
This did not stop pitchers from surreptitiously playing tricks with the ball, however. Gaylord Perry was notorious for throwing spitballs and other altered pitches during his career, but was never ejected until his 21st season.
Which do you think is the worse offense?
Photo via Flickr/gflinch