Joe Maddon defines cheating

Tampa Bay Rays reliever Joel Peralta was caught with pine tar on his glove.  It's illegal for a pitcher to have pine tar on his glove and so Peralta was ejected from the game.

Simple.  Straightforward.  Cheated, got caught, ejected.  Draw the curtains.

To Rays manager Joe Maddon, however, this is a far more complex issue, and it led to a fascinating give-and-take with reporters who were not going to sit back and ask softball questions.

The key excerpt from the Associated Press's outstanding article:

It was pointed out to Maddon that his player broke a rule and got caught, yet he chose to deflect responsibility toward [Washington Nationals manager Davey] Johnson.
"To utilize information based on the fact that the guy played here?" Maddon said. "If you want to talk about -- I don't know if that's a form of cheating or what -- but that's really kind of underhanded, I believe, to use that kind of information."

Maddon said pine tar use is "common knowledge in the industry" by "every major league baseball team." He said glove manufacturers "were probably inundated with new orders last night and this morning by various agents throughout baseball."

If it's that widespread, he was asked, shouldn't something be done about it?
"It is done about it," Maddon said. "In baseball, players throughout history have always had this amazing ability and way to police themselves. There's a policing themselves component of this game that we should stay away from -- let the players take care of things. It's happened for a long time."
And what have the players concluded about pine tar?
"Everybody's OK with it," Maddon said.
It was suggested to Maddon that his line of reasoning was hard to swallow, given that it comes on the heels of the Roger Clemens trial -- which reflected an era in which the players did not police themselves well at all.
"That's fine," he answered. "And we're talking about two different things."
Maddon went on to say that pine tar doesn't help a pitcher that much anyway.
"It shouldn't be illegal from a throwing perspective," he said. "It's just about grip. It doesn't really influence movement of the ball as much as it influences the fact that you have a better grip or understanding where the ball is going -- which actually probably works to the hitter's advantage, also."
Maddon said that the incident should deter free agents from signing with the Nationals.
"If I'm a major league player that may happen to want to play for the Nationals in the future, I might think twice about it," Maddon said. "Because this is one of their former children here that had really performed well and all of a sudden he's going to come back to this town and they're going to rat on him based on some insider information, insider trading, whatever."
After Peralta was ejected, Maddon had umpires check on Nationals reliever Ryan Mattheus' cap and glove in the ninth inning. Following the game, Peralta did not directly answer when asked if he intentionally added pine tar to the glove, saying only it was a glove he uses "for batting practice every day." Peralta declined further comment through a Rays spokesman on Wednesday.

Since Maddon wants us to examine the situation more carefully, let's do just that:

Joel Peralta had pine tar on his glove, got caught, and was ejected.
Own up to it, Joel Peralta.  Be a man.  You knew it was against the rules and you did it anyway -- and apparently you've been doing it for years.

You know what would really help Peralta?  If every single pitcher in the Majors who uses pine tar on his glove also owned up to it.  Then we would really find out if batters are truly "OK" with widespread pine tar use (according to Maddon, it works to their advantage anyway), and we could, you know, change the rule.

No use having a rule in place that no one thinks is necessary and everyone is already breaking.

Heck, examine the entire rulebook and expunge any rules that are unnecessary.  Legalize corked bats, for instance, since Mythbusters prove they don't help hitters.

The Nationals had prior knowledge of Joel Peralta's use of pine tar.
In Joe Maddon's world, the Nats are dishonorable.  As long as a player is helping the Nats, it doesn't matter whether he uses illegal means.  (It's Washington, D.C. -- they're used to dirty tricks.)  But as soon as he goes to the competition, he's fair game.

The Rays, meanwhile, are honorable.  In fact, in Maddon's mind, it's far more dishonorable (and far closer to cheating) to rat out a player's illegal secrets than it is to condone them.

More to the point, Maddon wants all the honorable men in baseball to know that their secrets are safe with the Rays.

Conclusion:  Joe Maddon believes that...
1) Joel Peralta did nothing illegal by having illegal pine tar on his glove,
2) how dare the Nats call him into question,
3) how dare anyone call Joel Peralta into question,
4) heck, everyone uses pine tar,
5) it's actually the Nats who are the cheaters, and
6) no baseball player should ever support them ever again.

Joe Maddon would fit in great in the world of Washington, D.C., wouldn't he?


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