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Play Fair!
Bill Syken
June 11, 2007
A book and blog look at baseball cheaters
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June 11, 2007

Play Fair!

A book and blog look at baseball cheaters

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ONE OF THE great debates of last week: Did Alex Rodriguez cheat when he distracted Howie Clark as the Blue Jays third baseman attempted—in vain—to field a pop fly? ( A-Rod maintains he said, "Hah!" Clark insists he heard, "Mine.") Nowhere was the question more diligently explored than on Derek Zumsteg's blog, CheatersGuidetoBaseball.com. Zumsteg—author of a similarly titled book—specializes in analyzing diamond dodges.

In the A-Rod case he pointed out that a week earlier a University of Texas base runner had been called out for interference after calling off a fielder on a pop fly in a game against Missouri. After some back-and-forth with readers Zumsteg decided that, contrary to what the umpires decided, A-Rod should have been called out too. But he noted, "As long as [the rule is] not enforced—like foreign substances on uniforms for pitchers—a runner would be dumb not to take advantage."

On his blog Zumsteg does not sound like a cop ferreting out injustice; he is more of an amused collector who treasures moments of chicanery. In early May he posted a story about an Arizona high school team that executed the "Rainbow Play." While a fast runner was stealing second, the catcher lobbed a rainbow throw to the second baseman; meanwhile, everyone on his bench screamed "pop fly" and pointed to the sky. The base stealer hesitated and was caught in a rundown between first and second. "They practiced the play just to get that one runner out," Zumsteg wrote. "Sweet stuff."

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