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Ethics lessons with Gaylord Perry

Jul 25, 2013, 11:05 AM EDT

Gaylord Perry

Cheating is wrong. Except when it’s not. Man, why don’t people cheat more? An interview with the king of the spitter from

In terms of ethics and cheating, how much difference is there between throwing a spitter and using steroids?

“There’s a tremendous amount. You try things, you try to improve (in looking for a small edge). Back in the 1960s and 70s, we played hard. We had a good time.”

Does he think any of today’s pitchers throw a spitter?

“No, I don’t think they do it. They have good enough stuff throwing 95, 100. I’ve seen pitchers throw out scuffed up balls. I don’t know why they do that. A scuffed-up ball will move for you. That’s what you want.”

I don’t think that throwing a spitball and using PEDs are exactly the same thing. They are both cheating and if your argument is “cheating is wrong, full stop” well, you have to figure out why you treat them differently, but I do realize that there are some externalities to PEDs that don’t necessarily exist with scuffing baseballs.

Still, I don’t feel like we’ve spent enough time actually sussing out what kind of “looking for an edge” is OK and what kind is not.

Look for a lot of this disconnect in the next few days as the old Hall of Famers descend on Cooperstown for induction weekend.

  1. Kevin S. - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    There is a difference – we know a spitball killed Ray Chapman.

    • misterj167 - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:20 AM

      I’m not sure if that was a spitball per se, but that was before the clean ball era where the ball was sometimes so hard to see that perhaps Ray never even saw it coming.

    • bcwildcat24 - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      I’ve never thought of it like that. I think part of it was the wacky wind-up he had. I read a book about the play that killed Chapman. His knuckles dragged across the mound before he threw the ball. It had to be hard to control that.

    • thegreatstoneface - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:53 PM

      we also know the lack of batting helmets had a hand in his death…

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    PED help players improve their physical conditioning, while a spitball is actually breaking the rules of the game itself. As is nearly every left-handed pitcher’s pickoff throw. As is holding up a glove when the fielder knows he didn’t actually tag a baserunner.

    Sometimes I wonder if baseball fans have such perfect lives that PED stuff is the only thing they have ever seen go wrong. Some act like it.

    • Jonny 5 - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:40 AM

      Using PED’s is “actually breaking the rules” too.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 25, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        not of the game itself

      • spursareold - Jul 25, 2013 at 3:21 PM

        Since we’re talking MLB here, yes, it is against the rules of the game to use PEDs.

    • fanofevilempire - Jul 25, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      I’m ok with a little spit, I watched baseball in the `78 time frame, I guess amphetamines
      were popular too and guys were smoking a little bud and cocaine was in the mix as we
      would find out but I don’t believe steroids is ever good and it has be cheating in my opinion.
      I like the old days of baseball, baseball today makes me sad, what can you do.

      Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage was bad ass!

    • fanofevilempire - Jul 25, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      I’m ok with a little spit, I watched baseball in the `78 time frame, I guess amphetamines
      were popular too and guys were smoking a little bud and cocaine was in the mix as we
      would find out but I don’t believe steroids is ever good and it has be cheating in my opinion.
      I like the old days of baseball, baseball today makes me sad, what can you do.

      Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage was bad ass too!

  3. hojo20 - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    Nice pic of Arlington Stadium.

  4. DelawarePhilliesFan - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    I was anti-Gaylord Perry when anti-Gaylord Perry wasn’t cool. I said in the 80’s (and still believe) that he should not be in the Hall of Fame because, well, what would he have done if he played within th erules? If someone can quantify for me how he would have perfored had he NOT cheated, then I’ll listen. Since no one can, you can’t really say (for certain) that he would have put up HOF numbers. And don’t give me stories from him about “Oh, I didn’t throw that many spitters”. Spend decades lying about it, then profit from it by admitting in in a book, and I would say you lack cred.

    Never liked Gaylord – and it is not because of Beavis & Butthead-esque homophobia

    • Marty McKee - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      You and Frank Robinson both.

      • yahmule - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM

        Frank’s biography from his rookie year as a manager was pretty awesome. They hated each other’s guts.

        Me and the Spitter was pretty good, too.

    • tonirigatoni - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:54 AM

      Word. As a lad I could never understand why the cheating Gaylord Perry was celebrated for his cheating ways all the way to the HoF.

      • bigharold - Jul 25, 2013 at 6:40 PM

        “… never understand why the cheating Gaylord Perry was celebrated for his cheating ways all the way to the HoF.”

        Mostly because that was back in the “good old days”, which frankly is BS. Cheating is cheating, .. period. Perry’s statement that there is a “tremendous” difference between what he did versus taking PEDs is nothing but a BS self serving rationalization. Guys like him and Don Sutton, who doctored the ball all the way to the HoF, are no worse than Bonds, Clemens, Canseco, Mcgwire, Palmeiro, Braun and A-Rod. Any attempt to differentiate the two forms of cheating is impossible without a gigantic, world class rationalizations. In fact, one could logically argue that PEDs while more effective in their primary function, .. making a player significantly stronger than he’d otherwise be, .. are a lesser form of cheating. PEDs do not change a players hand eye coordination and basic baseball skills. They merely make him a lot stronger. If a guy doesn’t know the strike zone or can’t hit a slider he could be munching on PEDs like they were M&Ms and it wouldn’t help. Spitballs and doctoring the ball actually change the fundamentals of a baseball in flight, .. effecting the very nature of the game. It’s a dishonest competitive advantage. In the end though, it’s all semantics, .. cheating is cheating.

        Baseball fans, like all people, look back on the “old days” thinking that things were simpler and easier and better because we want to remember the good things. They weren’t, .. they are just in the past and we don’t have to worry about them any longer. If there is significant evidence against A-Rod he should be punished, .. according to the rules. If MLB is going to punish him for breaking the rules they need to do it within the RULES. Otherwise what’s the point? He is not the villain he is being portrayed as, .. at most he broke a rule that a lot of other players broke and if so, he should be punished accordingly. I see no reason to make an example out of him anymore than I think he should get away with cheating, .. if in fact the evidence shows that he did. All the stuff one reads about banning him for life and he should just go away on his own is idiotic and speaks more to the fact that A-Rod is a polarizing figure than the facts. He will be back, not because he has $100 million reason to stick around but because the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

        The bottom line is cheating is cheating and I think Perry is being a bit myopic and more than a bit self serving.

  5. alamosweet - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Common sense seems applicable:

    – a spitball is a kind of fun way to break the rules to pitch a little better in the moment, at the risk of getting caught and everyone making fun of you.

    – PEDs generally require breaking the law and dealing with shady pseudo doctors to create non-naturally occurring physical changes to one’s body that almost every sport on the earth agrees is detrimental to the general competitive sport enterprise.

    Perry seems to reference this common sense difference when he says “we had a good time.” I don’t know who would consider shooting up chemicals a good time, but I don’t want to watch that person play a kid’s game.

    • American of African Descent - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      If baseball is a “kid’s game,” why am I not rich from my little league days?

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM

        Exactly. And while we are on the topic, “The Facts of Life” are all about you, and yet you were never on the show. Can somone explain that?

      • braddavery - Jul 25, 2013 at 2:26 PM

        Because you weren’t good enough.

    • cohnjusack - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:40 AM

      Totally! One is merely cheating to gain and advantage while the other is cheating to gain an advantage, but in a not as cute way in your opinion. I’m assuming, in your mind, that amphetamines fall under the cute way as well since player’s back in the 60s did.

      • alamosweet - Jul 25, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        Exactly! Spitballs are cute, PEDs are weird and gross. That is precisely my opinion and my point.

        Amphetamines are pretty gross, too, though that’s a different conversation.

    • aceshigh11 - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      A “fun” way?

      See, there’s the issue.

      These cheaters from the ’70s on back (Whitey Ford, Dun Sutton, Perry) seem almost mischievous and fun-loving with the spitballs and scuffing.

      Oh, that Gaylord Perry, such a cutup with his silly spitball…it almost DOES seem like something a kid would do, not something that seems sinister like injecting a foreign and illegal chemical.

      But, bottom line: it’s CHEATING. Is there a 100% equivalence? No, but we’ve got to put this in the proper context.

      In the eras they played in, guys like Clemens and Bonds are legit Hall of Famers, steroids or no, just like Aaron and Mays are HoFs even though they used greenies.

      • yahmule - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:47 AM

        Comparing amphetamines to steroids is like comparing parking tickets to grand theft auto. Plenty of legal over-the-counter speed available these days to athletes and civilians alike.

      • Kevin S. - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:27 PM

        You wouldn’t say that if you’d ever taken prescription amphetamines. It’s not the same stuff.
        And if the issue is legality, then why is stuff you can get legally in a GNC, or stuff you can get legally in the DR, on the banned list?

      • yahmule - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:41 PM

        Probably because the FDA and USDA have been completely neutered at this point and legality is primarily a matter of profitability. It is well known that companies have factored potential lawsuits into the bottom line before sending dangerous products to market and it has been that was for some time.

      • Francisco (FC) - Jul 25, 2013 at 3:22 PM

        MLB banned amphetamine use in 2006.

      • raysfan1 - Jul 25, 2013 at 3:30 PM

        Parking illegally and grand theft auto are violation of completely different laws. On the other hand, use of amphetamines and steroids violate both the same law and the same MLB rule. Indeed, as far as the law goes, amphetamines were added to the federal controlled substances act in 1971, 20 years before steroids.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 25, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        MLB banned amphetamine use in 2006.

        Federal gov’t put amphetamines as Schedule II drugs in 1970. This is the same level as morphine and oxycodone.

    • nategearhart - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      I bet the hitters that faced Perry didn’t think it was “fun”. They probably thought he was a cheating asshole.

      • yahmule - Jul 25, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        That was certainly his intention.

  6. indaburg - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Personally, a spitball is worse to me. Hear me out now. A spitball is lazy man cheating. You put a little spit on the ball and you throw the ball. Steroids, you gotta work for that shit. It’s not just shooting up. You then have to exercise, watch your diet, do proper condition and so forth. And then you actually have to be talented. Being mediocre and doing steroids will make one a mediocre strong player. In summary, yes, cheating is wrong. But I respect the steroid user a little more. He worked at his cheating. He sacrificed.

    • yahmule - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      And the steroid user also applied indirect pressure to every other player who would prefer to live and play clean.

      Gaylord Perry mainly just got in people’s head’s. He probably threw that thing about 2% of the time. It was the idea that he was throwing it and never getting caught that people couldn’t handle.

      • cur68 - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:05 PM

        Ah, Jeez! DUDE! I was staying out of this one. I WAS! Its a waste of a day arguing with people over ‘roids. But man, “He probably threw that thing about 2% of the time”???? Reference PLEASE!

        Also, as ‘burg so eloquently puts it, “Steroids, you gotta work for that shit”. <<<<<THIS. Its a chancy proposition at best. AND your balls shrink, too. That's sacrificing right there.

        But spitballs? Shit man, if everyone was allowed to throw 'em then everyone WOULD throw 'em. By differentially weighting the baseball, you've created the kind of wobbly flight path that is nigh on impossible to catch up with. The centre of mass has moved and the ball is crazily erratic. It moves more than a knuckleball, produces reliable but erratic movement, and is thrown WAY faster. That's why Perry did it. Here's the reference:

        That spitball is WAY more effective cheating than any PED you care to name.

        Now I'm done here. Feel free to provide me with links and references and so on for Perry's spitter throwing tendencies. I'll look at them this evening. I warn ya, though: I'll read them. And then…lets slip the dogs of WAR.

      • yahmule - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:29 PM

        Dude, get over yourself.

        Gaylord Perry won 314 games in the major leagues and nobody here could have hit him on his worst frigging day.

        Thanks for the link to information that everybody with the slightest idea about pitching already knew. I fooled around loading the ball up pitching to my friend as a teenager and saw movement almost immediately. Duh! It works.

        Try using a little common sense and ask yourself some very obvious questions. One: if he was loading the ball up all the time, why couldn’t four umpires, the opposing hitters and coaches and the TV cameras ever catch him? They were all watching him like a cast of hawks between every pitch.

        Secondly, if he wasn’t using this primarily as a mind-fuck, why on Earth would he publicize it constantly? He went so far as to write a book called Me and the Spitter. That would have been like Barry Bonds endorsing syringes during his playing days.

        He did it because he wanted batters to think about the spitter instead of thinking about hitting. Like the time Reggie Jackson got so mad at Gaylord and the home player umpire he got himself ejected. Reg also tried to carry the Gatorade bucket out to the mound for Gaylord, but Brian Downing put the clamps on him.

        So, where are all the Joe Niekro moments? Should have happened to Gaylord all the time, right?

        Actually, he got caught one time, after 21 seasons and over 5100 innings.

    • lukescottsbedsidemanner - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      I put pork fat on my balls. They really move well when I do that. You should see it.

      /priapic staring

      • American of African Descent - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:50 AM

        Carlos Danger, is that you?

      • indaburg - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:51 AM

        That’s an interesting form of lube. Astroglide probably works better, but the pork fat is likely tastier. We’ll try it your way.

      • lukescottsbedsidemanner - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:43 PM


    • aceshigh11 - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      That’s actually a very compelling argument. I can’t say I agree or disagree, because I’ve got to mull it over some more, but I see your point.

      • indaburg - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:49 AM

        I’m kinda being tongue in cheek. I hold myself to a high level of veracity. Hell, I even have trouble faking a good hand at poker. I wish they followed the rules they agreed to follow and played on a level field. But, that’s not reality, is it?

    • abaird2012 - Jul 25, 2013 at 7:17 PM

      Ever tried throwing a spitter? It ain’t easy — first you have to work for hours on end to develop the movement, and then many further hours of practice are required to control the unwieldy beast. Plus there’s the issue of camouflaging the load-up.

      I never came up with a good one.

  7. dowhatifeellike - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    There’s a pretty big difference between “I can teach you to throw a better breaking ball but it’s kind of gross” and “stick this needle in your ass and you’ll be a better player”.

    I don’t have any moral opposition to someone using their natural ability + their brain to be better; that’s human nature and it always will be. I do have a problem with using artificial means to enhance the body.

    • cohnjusack - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      I do have a problem with using artificial means to enhance the body

      What, like glasses?

      • dowhatifeellike - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:48 AM

        Nope, that does not change the body. It changes the light before it enters the eyes.

      • cohnjusack - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:49 AM

        Okay, so you mean surgery. Got ya!

      • dowhatifeellike - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:51 AM

        Surgery is to repair the body, not enhance it.

        Next bad example?

      • indaburg - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:54 AM

        Vitamins and MLB approved supplements? They enhance and are not necessary.

      • cohnjusack - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:27 PM

        Well, lasik goes without saying…

      • paperlions - Jul 25, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        That is 12 kinds of bullshit DWIFL.

        Glasses allow people to see better than they would otherwise, as does lasic. Surgery allows people to do things they otherwise could not do.

        Putting a foreign substance on a ball allows a player that can’t get natural movement to do so. It does EXACTLY the same type of thing that PEDs are purported to do. It enhances performance beyond what a player is naturally capable of doing. How you can think cheating to get a little extra movement isn’t a big deal is beyond me. Pitchers work for years trying to develop pitches that have a little extra movement, because for many that is the difference between having an MLB career and not.

    • dowhatifeellike - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      Vitamins and suppliments are a shortcut to fulfill dietary needs. Are you really going to argue that whey powder is cheating?

      • cohnjusack - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:29 PM

        If you’re going to throw down blanket statements that any artificial means of improvement is cheating, then yes.

    • nategearhart - Jul 25, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      “stick this needle in your ass and you’ll be a better player”.

      Anyone that says that is just plain wrong. You do the injection, THEN you work out like crazy, all the time.

      • paperlions - Jul 25, 2013 at 1:13 PM

        …and as soon as you stop working out, the benefits start to fade.

        Heck, amphetamines are the lazy man’s PED…it is the spitball of PEDs….performance enhancement without the work.

  8. Marty McKee - Jul 25, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    You can drive yourself crazy parsing these things. EVERY PLAYER cheats. Every one. How many times has an umpire given a batter first base on a pitch that didn’t actually hit the batter, and then the batter said, “No, ump, the pitch missed me, I’ll stay here and hit?” Or a first baseman pulled his foot, the ump called the runner out, and then the 1B said, “Oops, I screwed up, the runner should stay at first?”


    Arguing that a missed tag and taking PEDs are exactly the same thing because they’re both cheating is ridiculous.

    • yahmule - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      Most human beings have the need to rationalize their behavior in whatever manner possible. We all learned, “everybody else is going it!” in kindergarten and some of us will never mature beyond that point.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:23 PM

      It’s not up to the player to make those determinations. That’s what the umpires do. If a player could argue for a wrong call that went in his favor, he should be able to argue for a wrong call that went against him.

      It’s up to the umpires to make that decision. Referees in every sport say this. It doesn’t matter if everyone involved in the play believes something happened. What matters is what the umpire says. Once he has made the call, he can only be overruled by OTHER umpires, not by one honest player.

      And benefiting from a wrong call is not cheating.

    • Panda Claus - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what baseball would look like if played under golf’s “gentlemens’ rules”? It’s almost just opposite. Get away with what you can get away with.

  9. danaking - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    Perry did what he did in front of an entire stadium full of people. Umpires were free to catch him. It was a little like watching Ricky Jay do sleight of hand card tricks. You know something is wrong, but prove what it is.

    PEDs are taken in private, and the abusers will deny it, even when caught. Also, there’s a degree of culpability here, in changing the body’s chemistry for an edge.

    • yahmule - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      Really? I think it’s far more dignified to crowd into a stall in the crapper while some slob like Canseco or McGwire dots your ass with a syringe. Then you get to do them! Seeing McGwire’s freckled ginger cakes up close is every minor leaguer’s dream, isn’t it?

      • buggieowens - Jul 25, 2013 at 1:42 PM

        “McGwire’s freckled ginger cakes up close.” Damn that’s funny and really grotesque. I am going to have to take drastic actions to burn that image from my brain.

  10. pbastille - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    Try loading up one side of a volleyball with a little sweat before a nice hard overhead serve. Gross, but there’s some crazy action as that ball dries off on the way over the net

  11. 18thstreet - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    “Back in the 1960s and 70s, we played hard.”

    This is completely true! Until January 1, 1960, players did not play hard. And then they did, but ended the practice on December 31, 1979. It had something to do with the fine print of the Messersmith decision.

    Old players shouldn’t be allowed to talk about how the game used to be better while they were a part of it.

    • yahmule - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      You should be the one to enforce that. I want to see you tell Reggie Smith to shut up about baseball when he was playing. Let me make some popcorn first.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:41 PM

        I want to hear every last detail about baseball from before I was born. Just don’t tell me it was better, because there’s no way on earth that players from 50 years ago were better than the players of today. It’s preposterous.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        I mean, Johnny Bench was the first one-handed catcher, right? And now everyone does it. Really, how hard was it to steal bases before Johnny Bench redefined the position?

      • yahmule - Jul 25, 2013 at 1:22 PM

        Maybe harder? Bench tucked the hand behind his knee for protection. It actually made for a longer transition to his throwing hand than the conventional style, but he had a rocket on his shoulder so it didn’t matter. I know this much, it took a Johnny Bench to pull it off. Any scrubs who might have tried that had it coached out of them well before the reached the bigs.

  12. louhudson23 - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    So there are better players playing today than Mays, Aaron,Clemente,Koufax, Gibson,Mantle,Spahn???… is ripping me off apparently,because none of the games I watch have those “better” players performing.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      Do you believe marathoners and sprinters from 1960 are better than those of today? Do you believe swimmers from 1960 are better than those of today?

      Just look at the players of that era, physically I mean. They’re shrimps compared to today, and not just because of steroids. Today’s players eat better. They work out more. They’d be crazy to smoke. If any of them drank like Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin, we’d surely hear about it.

      The defense is so much better today than it was when I was a kid (I was born in 1975). Those Brooks Robinson highlights that get shown all the time are matched every damn day by third basemen who will be forgotten 10 years from now.

      • yahmule - Jul 25, 2013 at 1:31 PM

        Many players drink and chase trim and do all the other counter productive crap they’ve always done. Christ, it was a great big feel good story that the Red Sox were knocking back shots of whiskey before post season games a few years ago, until suddenly their lax clubhouse was the worst thing that ever happened.

        I believe the overall talent level is better now, but the upper echelon athletes are not any better. It is a bizarre form of vanity to insist otherwise. If clones of Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle appeared tomorrow, they would take the league by storm.

        The players do eat better now and they have access to legal supplements. The primary reason they’re generally more muscular is the same reason the average person in this country is more muscular than they were 50 years ago, because of the steroids that have been pumped into the beef.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 25, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      Take Joe DiMaggio. He was awesome. Hit, field, run, all that. I don’t care how many feathers I ruffle when I say it: Joe DiMaggio was awesome at playing baseball.

      He also benefited by (pretty much) never having to play against African-American competitors. He also benefited by getting four at-bats a game against a tiring starter. (Plus, he benefited by getting 20 games a year — one out of seven — against the putrid St. Louis Browns and 20 more against the Philadelphia Athletics and 20 more against the Washington Senators. Year after year after year.) Players’ gloves were smaller. The fields were in worse shape, so there were more errors.

      He never dealt with a well-rested Mariano Rivera or even a Jason Isringhausen coming out of the bullpen, because all the best pitchers were starters. There was no concept of bringing in a righty face the guy. In 1941, there were 615 games played in the American League, and there were 569 complete games. HALF THE TIME you got at bats in the 8th and 9th inning against a weary starter. HALF. That’s how you get a 56-game hitting streak, and it’s no wonder no one’s come close ever since: the fielders catch more balls, the pitchers are better, and — for the stars — specialists come of the bullpen at the key moments, increasing your degree of difficulty.

      The players today are better. And I think we should rejoice in that.

      • Marty McKee - Jul 25, 2013 at 2:42 PM

        If you’re arguing that DiMaggio wouldn’t be a HOFer if he played today, you’re nuts.

      • cktai - Jul 25, 2013 at 3:15 PM

        If you read into that, that he is arguing that DiMaggio wouldn’t be a HOFer if he played today, you’re nuts.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 25, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        I don’t know if Joe DiMaggio would be a Hall of Famer if he played today.

        First of all: The BBWAA’s standards are so irrational that it’s not not hard to think Joe DiMaggio himself would not make the cut. Jim Rice is in, Tim Raines is not. Andre Dawson is in but Jeff Bagwell isn’t. Jack Morris got more votes than Roger Clemens. Lee Smith got more votes than Barry Bonds. I don’t know what the standard is, so maybe Joe DiMaggio falls below it.

        Second, I really don’t know how these skills would translate. (Nor do I know that they would not.) Could DiMaggio hit a slider? Could Ted Williams? (Serious question: did anyone really throw sliders before Bob Gibson?) Maybe Frank Thomas, similarly, would have struggled against spitters. Reggie Jackson would have been lousy in the dead ball era.

        All we know, for sure, is that Joe DiMaggio was among the best players during the time in which he played and one of the best in the decades before and after. But time passes, games evolve. Somewhere, there’s a skeleton of a dinosaur who got his ass handed to him by a better dinosaur.

      • yahmule - Jul 25, 2013 at 6:04 PM

        Yeah, a handsome guy and an incredibly graceful athlete who exuded class and never lost his cool on the field, who also happened to marry an iconic sex symbol for the ages. The Hall voters would have hated him on sight.

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