Sep 2, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher Grant Balfour (50) reacts after the Athletics recorded the last out of the game against the Texas Rangers in the ninth inning at Coliseum. The Athletics defeated the Rangers 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Grant Balfour Cheats At Baseball. Nobody Cares.

This isn’t really about Grant Balfour. Of course he cheats, who doesn’t? It’s about the fact that nobody seems to care one bit.

For those of you who may not even be aware, doctoring the ball with any of a variety of substances or scuffing it up with any of a variety of implements is against the rules of baseball and has been for years and years and years. It unarguably improves the bite on a pitch and – if carried to an extreme – can make it harder to see as well. If you see a big, black spot on the yellow bill of a pitchers cap and you watch him repeatedly touch that spot with two fingers then rub the ball then touch it again and then rub the ball again you should be highly suspicious that something untoward is going on. He is not adjusting the bill of his cap. Adjusting the bill of his cap would not turn it black, the dust on the mound is not black and resin is not black. Adjust, rub, adjust, rub, adjust, rub would be a bizarre pre-pitch ritual for any pitcher if it were only that. Grant Balfour is doctoring the ball – probably with pine tar or something analogous. You may feel inclined to make excuses for Grant Balfour, I don’t. Grant Balfour is cheating at baseball.

Is Grant Balfour the only pitcher routinely cheating in this or similar ways? Good Lord, of course he isn’t. Are Tigers pitchers doing the same thing? Of course they are (keep a close eye on Joaquin Benoit), though their dark bills make it a little less obvious. Sources informed Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports that 90% of pitchers do the same thing – but they typically use a combination of sunscreen and resin to achieve the same effect. The question is why nobody cares? Many fans refuse to believe that any cheating his going on (har, har), for managers it mainly seems like bad form – given that everybody is doing it – to call out somebody else. Sportswriters are aware of how prevalent the practice is and has been (Gaylord Perry, anyone?) but for some reason don’t start cranking up the outrage generator like they do over Alex Rodriguez and his fishy substances. Tampering with the ball is clearly considered to be a less egregious violation of the spirit of the game than injecting yourself with some testosterone analog to beef up or to recover from a shoulder injury in 3 weeks instead of 6. Why? If you think you know, please tell me.

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  • astrosince1975

    Perhaps giving the pitchers a pass here is actually leveling the playing field. Hitters keep getting bigger and stronger while the strike zone is much smaller than it was when Gaylord Perry was throwing spitters. Add in the fact that today’s hitters are also aided by video of every pitch ever thrown by every pitcher. That, along with the countless other forms of pitch tracking data that is readily available tilts the scales heavily in favor of the hitters.

    I think the country has outgrown its thirst for 4-hour slugfests and most of us prefer a game like the one we saw last night in Oakland. If allowing pitchers a little liberty in this particular area produces more such games, then I’m okay with it.

    • chrisHannum

      Bear in mind that offense is way, way down over the last 5 years and pitchers and catchers use the film room too. If you miss the kinds of games that were the norm in the 60s and 70s, I’m with you. That isn’t really what we’re going to get, though, because of the sky high strikeout rates and quick moves to the plate. Inning after inning of Bob Gibson vs. Lou Brock sounds loads better than inning after inning of Yu Darvish vs Adam Dunn.

  • Lambert Klein

    If something is wrong then it’s wrong. Crooked. That’s about it.

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  • Patty White

    What happened with Cabrera and Sanchez?!
    I’m an A’s fan and they didnt show the game out here in Oakland. Morons. Grew up in B’ham tho, so if The Bengals will, I’ll pull out me big D hat!

    • Curtis Troy

      They didn’t show what game? It was on MLB Network, available in Oakland and aaaaaalllll across the country.

      • Patty White

        Well, I didn’t /don’t subscribe to it. Would have had to call Comcast and pay for it etc. we’ve been season tix holders since 1980 and I like Ray Fossee’s announcing, so radio didnt kill me, but would’ve liked to e seen what happened with those two. And Balfour n Martinez, too but…

        • Curtis Troy

          To answer your question above, too, Sanchez basically called out Cabrera for his fielding mishap. I think that’s what you’re referring to. I’m at work, I just found a decent stream to watch.

          • Patty White

            I googled it and was going to download something but when I looked at the privacy policy on the website just decided to forget it :)
            So by the time I’d turned on the radio (wasn’t thinking baseball so early) the play had just ended. So, thank you.
            I didn’t know he’d messed up a play.

  • Steven Resnick

    Cry baby! Balfour cheating get a life. You’ve obviously never seen a hat when someone sweats. Oh and I would quit my job as a writer cause you ain’t very good either.

    • Alex Miller

      I think you may have missed the subtleties of the article. The part where the author states that pitchers on the Tigers are loading the ball, too. It’s right after that opening sentence. He talks about how, seemingly, everyone in baseball is cheating.

    • chrisHannum

      So quaint that you imagine this is a job. It isn’t 1973 anymore.

  • Leavenworth

    Half the players are on roids and they all cheat. But you’re a moron and successfully found an area where they are not. Balfour is high intensity and superstitious. He tugs on his cap, uniform, shoulders, etc in a pattern. When the pattern is successful he repeats it. When it’s not, he doesn’t. Please understand just a tiny bit about the team your team opposing before writing a moronic pieces. Thanks

    • chrisHannum

      If he systematically tugged on his sock before rubbing the ball, then tugged on his sock before rubbing the ball then tugged on his sock before rubbing the ball that would be equally suspicious. If there happened to be a large black smear on that sock it would be doubly suspicious.

  • Matthew Miranda

    Ahahaha loser, bum ass city bum ass writer over priced players that choke. Eat shit

    • gstoye44

      Hmm. You bring up some salient points for discourse.

      • Alex Miller

        Yes, quite well said. Bully!

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