So previously, we talked about how history will look back on these players and why PED’s don’t make you a better player. Now let’s look at past cheaters in the sport and how we treated them.
3. We celebrated cheaters before.
Baseball has been around for a long time. Stats have been kept since 1871. Like anything that has existed for such an amount of time, there is bound to be some dark stories along with the good.
Players who used Performance-Enhancing-Drugs cheated, even though the substances were not tested for at that time. (Way to go, Bud Selig.) They got an unfair advantage. This is not the first time that somebody has taken an unfair advantage to be a better player. Let’s look at an interesting time in baseball history-The Spitballers.
According to Wikipedia, (Stop laughing. It was there.)
“In addition, there were serious issues with the spitball, as a variation on the standard spitball called for the pitcher to smear the entire surface of the normally white ball with a mixture of tobacco spit and dirt or mud in order to stain it the same deep brown color as the infield, making it nearly impossible for batters to see or avoid in low-light conditions. Ray Chapman was famously struck in the temple and killed by a spitball thrown by pitcher Carl Mays during a poorly lit game; Chapman is the second of only two Major League Baseball players to have died as a result of an injury received in a game (the first was Mike “Doc” Powers in 1909).”
The most famous pitcher to use the Spitball was Ed Walsh. How was he rewarded? Going into the Hall-of-Fame in 1946, 10 years after its creation. And guess what record he holds? Oh, yeah. He’s the all-time leader in ERA.
17 players were granted an exemption in 1920 that gave them the opportunity to still throw the Spitter. Stan Covelski, Red Faber & Burleigh Grimes were three of the names of the 17 grandfathered in. They were also all three Hall-of-Famers.
What is the difference between a spitball and performance-enhancing drugs? Why do we revere Ed Walsh and not Barry Bonds? What really is the difference between the two? We cannot have it both ways. We can’t crucify Mark McGwire or Rafael Palmeiro and not crucify Ed Walsh or Gaylord Perry.
Those guys were not that different.