No no no—not steroids. I’m not talking about the kind of cheating wherein in you put your life in jeopardy. I’m talking about the kind of stuff that an umpire like Joe West would have a conniption about if he caught you doing it. The kind of stuff Gaylord Perry, Whitey Ford, or Joe Niekro used to do.
As the old saying goes, “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying,” and while mommies the world over will line up to tell me what a bad role mode I am for telling this too you, the fact of the matter is, you aren’t trying.
Learning things like how to scuff a ball, increase your bat grip, hide your placement on the rubber (if you choose to be on it at all) and where to hide the Vaseline is as much cheating as Picasso licking his brush while painting is.
Cheating at baseball is an art from, encouraged by the very makeup of the game. You don’t have to be the biggest or strongest to play this sport, its a game for the scrappy, spirited, and smart. And the smart players find ways to even the odds. Furthermore, in it’s own special way, cheating artfully shows the world that you’re not just trying, but doing your damnedest to win.
A pitcher that knows what a ball does when it’s scuffed can make an average fastball into a 88mph ghost. Grow your hair out so you can store pomade on your curls and you can produce a sinker that will make scouts salivate. Kick dirt over the rubber and the umpire will never notice that you’re delivering from a foot in front of it, or six inches off the side.
Remember though, when you implement things that aren’t exactly rule book friendly you do run a risk of getting caught. This is why I don’t recommend you make a living off cheating unless you are good at it, and trust me, you can get really good at it.
Until then, know when to scuff a ball. Know when to go to that dollop of Firm Grip under your belt-loop. And know when to make it look like you’re cheating when you really aren’t—after all, putting the fear of it in someone’s mind is just as good as doing it.
Sure, you could get caught, but that’s part of the thrill. Besides, it teaches you how to detect other cheaters, and if you think pulling a fast one is fun, wait ’till you bust someone for “trying hard” against you.