Just The Tip, Just for a Second, Just to See How it Feels…

, Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 1:13 AM Comments (5)

Hey Manny, <a href=

seek whaddya ya say we set up a system to cheat and both get rich doing it?” width=”356″ height=”272″ />

First off, doctor I am back. Its been a bit of an absence without any real good excuse, so I will choose to make one up. I have been locked in a secret room in the basement of Yankee Stadium for suggesting that the New York Yankees should not be employing Angel Berroa. They only let me go if I promised not to tell anyone what they did to me. However, they did say that I was allowed to tell you that my cellmate cam from a country that ends in –Stan and is largely covered by deserts. He did not like me much.

I figured I would join the growing list of people who are talking about A-Rod. Specifically, I wanted to talk about the notion that he was tipping pitches to other teams in return for getting pitches tipped to him. This is an incredibly serious charge, and I figured it was worth taking out the old logic tools to evaluate it.

1) It is nearly impossible to prove and totally improbable to corroborate.
If I wanted to write a book and make people buy it, I think one of the things I would consider is making an accusation that fits the above description. To prove it first someone would have to come forward and admit they were complicit in this endeavor. I find that highly unlikely for two reasons. First, that person would be admitting they altered the outcome of official major league games. This would almost certainly result in banishment from baseball forever and could possibly even result in criminal prosecutions. Second, whatever player admitted to this would essentially be telling everyone that he was not good enough to hit on his own. In the modern masculine ego-driven sports world I find it difficult to imagine a player admitting this. In many ways, it is worse than admitting to steroid use. With steroids you still have to hit the ball. If you know the pitch and the location, that process gets extraordinarily simpler.

2) We would have to believe that no pitcher, bench coach, manager, or video-reviewer ever figured this out.
In a league where every statistic is evaluated ten times over and used as evidence during contract negotiations, I have to imagine that any pitcher would be furious if they figured this out. So, if it did happen, we have to also believe that no pitcher on A-Rod’s teams noticed that some guys were killing the ball during blowouts. We constantly hear stories of players and teams noticing differences in how pitchers hold their glove, the way catchers set up, and the way baserunners stand when they are going to steal. Teams use that information to gain an advantage, and they should. However, in that analysis, it seems likely that someone would have noticed what was going on.

3) There would have to be some way that A-Rod set up the system.
Let’s take this from the top. A-Rod does not play first-base, so he would not have the opportunity to talk to hitters standing on first. Plays covering second base (during his time in Seattle and Texas) would most likely not give him enough time to set the system up. Furthermore, I think we can safely assume he did not discuss this with catcher while at bat because the umpire would overhear and catchers seem the least likely to be involved in a pitch tipping scheme (most of the reports I have read do not indicate that this was catchers simply telling him the pitch). Furthermore, even if a catcher was giving A-Rod the pitches, A-Rod is not a catcher so he would still need to establish some sort of system to communicate during the catcher’s at bats. So, we can reasonably assume that he did not set this system up during games.

If it didn’t happen during the games, that means it must have happened at some other time. Batting practice seems like a time it could possibly happen, so let’s think about that. A-Rod would have to find a player, isolate them enough to make the conversation private and establish the system without anyone else seeing it or having suspicions about what they were doing. This leads us directly to our next point

4) A-Rod would have to achieve a 100% success rate in picking guys to approach (and a very small number of players that could help him out)
This one is simple. If A-Rod selects the wrong man to approach, the player goes nuts, gets angry, and tells everyone. This did not happen. Moreover, every guy on the other team would not be capable of helping him out. Outfielders seem incapable of seeing signs and successfully relaying them to A-Rod, and corner infielders usually have their view somewhat obscured. So, that leaves the two middle infielders as possible targets. If you take this thought to its logical conclusion, that means there were two guys (the starters) on each team that could help him out.

5) What other ridiculousness do we need to account for?
Teams play 162 games a year. They play 18 games against each division opponent, making 72 of those games (52 if he did it with Texas). It would seem less likely that a division rival would do such a thing, so that would leave 90 games. Fifteen games are interleague games, which also seem unlikely, so that brings the total down to 75 games. In those 75 games (where they play another team no more than 10 times), A-Rod would have to have a player on the other team involved, be involved in a blowout, and neither player could be substituted during that blowout. He would then have to successfully get the sign from that player (or give it) in the hopes that they would return the favor. Lastly, it seems almost impossible for A-Rod to have done this in New York since he himself plays third base and most likely cannot definitively see the signs.

What does all this mean? Well, I think it means that it would be VERY hard for A-Rod to have set up such a system. For it to be true we have to accept the fact that no one caught on, the offending players never told anyone, A-Rod never guessed wrong in approaching someone, and that those players trusted each other to keep their word and reciprocate. In the end, I think this makes this story nothing more than an attempt to sell a book. However, if I am wrong and this can be proven, I will be the first to say that he deserves a lifetime ban and a permanent place next to the Black Sox.

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