8.10.2005

cheating pitchers

jayson stark has a really good column up today on espn.com. the gist of it that we're getting so bent out of shape about steroid users because they are cheaters. however, when it comes to pitching, we tend to giggle delightfully at tales of scuffing the ball or throwing spitballs, both of which are illegal and can be considered cheating as well. stark attributes the discrepancy to the fact taht the home run is more significant from an emotional standpoint than pitching acheivements. stark sums up thusly:
We love home runs. We especially love really long home runs. So by extension, we love our hallowed home run records. We love them more than any other records in sports. And if those records are being threatened by "cheaters," now that offends us.
while i do think he has a point, for me, as you might guess, one of the more obvious reasons why we are dismissive of the cheating pitchers as opposed to cheating batters is.....yeah, of course i think it's race.

the traditional dichotomy used by people is the black body/white mind dichotomy. black people are closer to nature, more savage if you will, and therefore rely on their physical skills. while whitey being enlightened in europe in the early 1400's and all rely on their mental acumen. which is why white athletes are always being praised as smart athletes (i'd like you to meet john rocker). anyways, hitting and pitching i think fall along these categories. pitching has always been considered a cerebral skill, more so than hitting. so when pitchers cheat, they're just being smart, and there's nothing wrong to gaining an advantage by being smarter right? while cheating at hitting, considered a physical, almost reflexive act, is just an unfair advantage that insults our fair play sensibilities. and well for those of you who think hitting home runs or hitting in general, should read the tony gwynn chapter of men at work by goerge will.

anyways, of course, this is complete b.s. like a lot of the other typical arguments about the nature of sports. go look it up kids, there really aren't that many pitchers out there who can't hit at least ninety on the gun, and even more telling, there are fewer pitchers who are even remotely successful throwing junk. therefore, pitching success has just as much to do with physical talent as it does with mental capabilities.

also, i don't think that it's that hard to see that the majority of pitchers who are known cheaters were white, and that a lot of the blame for steroids is being directed at the latino ballplayer. like stark, i'm not saying that using steroids should be allowed (actually, i sometimes think that they should be, but that's another post), but what i am saying, like stark, is that there is a double standard for hitters and pitchers, and i think that race has something to do with it.

1 comment:

alfredo said...

i think it has something to do with race and something to do with sportswriters sympathizing more with the crafty lefty (only lefties are described that way) or other "cerebral" types like greg maddux. i think writers are alienated from both the brawnier sluggers and the spanish-speaking ballplayer in general. their discomfort with large men (some with huge no-speak-English latino cocks, ahem) tends to show in their writing.