©2020 by Ralph Schudel

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    • Ralph Schudel

    The new "normal"


    We have all heard the expression that "rules were ment to be broken." Athletes like Tom Brady, Alex Rodriguez, and Lance Armstrong have all been into the mainstream media for some form of cheating. Whether it was deflategate, PEDs, or blood doping; chances are you've heard of some sort of scandal.

    For years it seemed that I was naive to what was going on in the sports world. Of course, I knew about Pete Rose betting on baseball and character flaws of athletes in various sports, but it seems cheating has really made its way to the forefront in the last 20 years. It almost seems like athletes are taking to utilizing underhanded tactics like those seen in professional wrestling.

    One of the best at "heel" tactics was former WWE Superstar Eddie Guerrero. He portrayed a character on television whose catch-phrase was "If your not cheating, your not trying." This resonates in today's sports environment. One example that comes to mind would be baseball.

    For a long time the sport of baseball was dominated by power-hitters. Players like Bonds, Thomas, Thome, Sosa, and McGuire were synonymous with the home-run swing. I can remember being a kid growing up and talking with kids on the playground about the Home-Run race of 1998, between Ken Griffey, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa. We marveled at what these real life superheroes were accomplishing. It wasn't until later that we found out what our heroes were actually doing.

    I remember vividly watching my heroes testify in-front of congress about using PEDs. I would ask my dad questions about the proceedings and he would do his best to describe what was happening. I had difficulty coming to grips with my heroes being cheaters.

    Golf couldn't escape scandalous behavior either as Vijay Singh became involved in a cheating scandal by using deer antler spray to remedy injuries. Why would these athletes turn to using underhanded tactics to gain an advantage?

    Think about it, sports are a multi-million dollar business. Athletes can gain significant bonuses for finishing at the top of the leader board. Often they will take a significant gamble on themselves and their careers to finish at the top of the leader board. What they don't realize is they are risking personality and legacy for a shot at immortality. Lance Armstrong got caught, but how many of your favorites haven't?

    Some studies estimate that the difference in income from first to second could be as little as 10 times to approximately 100 times more in earnings. Some justify the risk in order for the incredible payday that may follow.

    One of the interesting cases that occurred this week happened in Saint Louis. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina rose some eyebrows. In the midst of a heated match-up with rival Chicago the Cardinals were on their way to a likely win. That is when St. Louis pitcher Brett Cecil threw a wild-pitch, but what happened next was incredibly intriguing.

    As the Cubs hitter made his way to first Molina scrambled to find the ball. It wasn't at the backstop or even in the dugout. It was attached to Molina's chest protector like Velcro.

    For those unfamiliar with baseball, the catcher's chest protector is made of a composite hard plastic that doesn't let anything stick to it. The actions of the ball would suggest that Brett Cecil was using a foreign substance to gain a competitive advantage.

    It is not illegal for a catcher to use substances like pine-tar, but pitchers cannot have any substance on the ball. It gives them an unfair advantage as it allows them to potentially add more spin to the ball. The added spin can cause chaos for the opposition.

    The Cardinals were quick to deflect any questions in regard to the matter.

    One can comb through the history books and find instances of pitchers using foreign substances and hitters corking their bats. Baseball is the sport most notorious for cheating but can you think of another one? Don't come at me with spygate or deflategate. Those have been beat to death.

    Do you feel that cheating in sports is part of the "new normal?"

    Is it more common than we are aware?

    Does it tarnish the game for you?

    Tweet me your thoughts: @schudel_ralph


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