Former Major League baseball player Lenny Dykstra is handcuffed at his arraignment in Los Angeles on June 6, 2011. (POOL / REUTERS)
Cheating in baseball is nothing new and guarantee you it happens in every game and you probably haven’t thought of framing pitches as cheating, but think about it, taking a ball you know is out of the zone and jerk it back to deceive the umpire is cheating. Cheating in baseball can be illegal like taking unprescribed performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) or sleazy like stealing signs or using an unfair advantage like a corked bat or other equipment that goes against MLB rules. Someone once coined the adage “if you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying”. Saying you were hit on the hand when it hit the bat knob or missed you altogether was performed well by Hollywood standards by Derek Jeter once to be given first base on a gifted hit-by-pitch. Pitchers put pine tar on baseballs and some will wipe some extra slop on a baseball for different movement, and the irony is that most cheating in baseball doesn’t raise an eyebrow with even the most honest people.
Now Cutter Dykstra’s dad Lenny who has a checkered past and integrity and honesty issues just sunk to a new low, and he has dragged in the baseball police aka the umps, this time into the mess, and a line that has never been crossed is now called into question which is cheating by umpires(s) allegedly.
Lenny appeared on the FOX Colin Cowherd show “The Herd” to talk about his new book and had this to say:
“I said [to myself] ‘I need these umpires,’ so what do I do? I just pulled a half million bucks out and hired a private investigation team. [The umpires] blood is just as red as ours. Some of them like women, some of them like men, some of them gamble. Some of them do whatever … It wasn’t a coincidence do you think that I led the league in walks the next two years, was it? …Fear does a lot to a man.”
Dykstra claims he intimidated an ump with a gambling issue with just a common gambling term, “‘Hey, so did you cover last night?’”. Dykstra said, “[The ump] called a strike.” Dykstra then addressed the ump again, “‘Oh I don’t think you heard me. Did you cover the spread last night?’”
Dykstra then motions with his hands the shrinking strike zone. “I had to do what I had to do to win and support my family”.
Watch the video below.
Dykstra led the league in walks and cut down significantly on strikeouts when his blackmail scheme allegedly started. He got the benefit of the doubt on close plays. Just more proof that life ain’t fair in baseball and that’s easy to say even if Dykstra’s claims weren’t true.
Even with no dishonesty, umps are human and make mistakes but what about grudges and biases against certain players? You are taught in sports at an early age from your PE teacher in elementary school the rules of a particular game, and that everybody should play by the same rules. In baseball, there can be a different strike zone from one at-bat to the next, and it was generally accepted that was the way it was for well over 100 years, but now we have the technology to reinforce that everyone can play by the same rules in baseball.
Since the day Bryce Harper was called up in 2012 which was prior to the instant replay system, there seemed to be what I referred to as the “Bryce Bias” which unfortunately for Bryce was not a positive thing. On close tag plays, check swings, pitches, and any play that was close they seemed to go against Bryce in what seemed an unfair proportion to become the “Bryce Bias” and if he argued a check swing or was mad at himself not beating out a single and spiked his helmet away or argued a strike call in a respectful way he’d get thrown out of the game leading to this “Bryce Bias”.
With the advent of instant replay the field evened out for Bryce as umps were calling the challengeable plays correctly and Bryce wasn’t called out at the plate when he clearly was safe. The ball/strike calls this year seemed to go in Bryce’s favor to the point that FP Santangelo said “if Bryce isn’t swinging, it isn’t a strike” and some umps were giving Bryce the respect he earned with not chasing pitches out of the strike zone.
Was the unfair disadvantage a functionality of a Rookie indoctrination or was it just simply cheating a player?
This, and other reasons we mentioned is why so many pundits have called for the “Robo-ump” which is an electronic system to get it 100% right. Keep “blue” but have the stop light colors flash the correct ball and strike call which is what many should be calling for after this Dykstra mess!
Let’s examine 2 common batter’s counts in FanGraphs stats and see how pitch #3 in a 1-1 count changes outcomes: In the 2-1 count you have a .873 OPS or the opposite count in a 1-2 you have a .423 OPS on average. That’s a difference of 450 points hinged to 1 pitch! Ask Ben Revere in that finale last week in the ALCS about blown ball/strike calls.
Watch the entire video:
What would happen in 10 years if we found out the ump in a postseason game was being dishonest in calls that turned a series? We aren’t insinuating dishonesty in this situation, but just look at how Navarro and Revere were both set-up for failure in the Game 6 vs the Royals ALCS finale last week in the 9th inning with poor strike calls with a runner on 3rd and 2nd in a 1 run game! Homeplate ump Jeff Nelson blew it at the most critical time. What if, what if!
Honor, integrity, and fair play and technology!