Red, I knew Perry threw the spitter. He was kind of an oddball, but lends credence to the idea that everybody cheats, if they can.
I had no idea Bobby Thompson knew what pitch was coming! So, did Willie McCovey in the 7th game of the '62 series?
For the last couple of days, I do NOT define cheating by who I like or don't like. I was happily playing poker at pokerstars.net (and losing.) Then a guy came along and pointed me to a cheat site that showed what cards were downloaded. It ruined the game for me. Not because I was beaten by anybody using the cheat, but because I then thought ANY adversary COULD be using the cheat.
I agree, human nature being what it is, we'll all try for an advantage if it's really important.
But that just means two things are clear to me.
1) If it's a friendly game between you and me, then we should NOT cheat, unless we know each other SO well that we implicitly agree that cheating is part of the game.
2) If it's a REAL game, then to heck with you. I want every judge I can find to keep you from cheating.
And, ok, I'll take you at your word that everybody goes for an edge. I don't care about Lance Armstrong or Gaylord or Bonds or Judge Landis. Ultimately, if I'm involved in my sport, what I'm trying to do is train and be the best at that thing. But I'm telling you, if, while I'm swimming or biking or running or throwing and training my heart out, if you're taking a drug or cheating - or even if I think the current rules allow you to take drugs or cheat - then I'm gonna feel cheapened and despondent. And, even if I beat you, I'll worry that someone figures that *I* cheated.
I disagree that we define cheating by who we like or dislike. I played Strat-O-Matic baseball in the late '60s and '70s. I played against Pete Rose, but at the same time recognized what a talent he was. That had nothing to do with him as a person or where he played - he was just a card in the deck. I admire Sandy Koufax. I would think less of him if I thought he somehow "cheated" by using steroids.
Red, your whole argument is - I hope - wrong. You said, "Cheating happens all the time. The appearance of cheating is always there whether people cheat or not." I grew up for 40 years thinking that stealing signs was part of the game. Then, after awhile, I KNEW Bonds and Mcguire were doing SOMETHING because they looked so different. Remember when Bonds was a leadoff hitter for Pittsburgh? But I didn't know about what steroids did til the press investigated it. Maybe all the ballplayers knew.
But I really wish someone had STOPPED it before the records I grew up with were broken by guys who beat the system with drugs. Are you that much more cynical than me? Do you think Musial, Dean, Gehrig, Hornsby, Mays, Gibson, Wills, Yaz and Ruth cheated the way you are suggesting? I'm not saying they wouldn't have, if they could have. But I'm thinking they DIDN'T.
Ah. Having said that, I see what you're saying: If the drugs had been known then, some of those guys (or others) would have taken them. So your point is taken. People will cheat if they can.
My point is, I didn't consider cheating and I looked up to all those guys because I thought they were honest and real. But I can't look up to anyone - really - if I think they're winning because of drugs. . . regardless of whether the drugs are legal or not. All that means is that maybe someone won because of an ingested chemical, not because of desire, hope, training or grit.
Anyway, my point isn't whether or not we should allow drugs for athletes to be better. (I believe we shouldn't.) My point is that there IS a continuum of cheating and there is a line that *I* think we shouldn't cross, and I think many agree, whether drugs are involved or not. (Red, I think you agree with me, but I'll go on.)
Stealing signs is ok. Killing the opposing team's first-baseman is not. Sliding spikes-high into second is ok, dropping a ball on purpose is not. Glancing back at the catcher's sign is ok, using a corked bat is not. Training harder and weirder than anyone ever before (as Ron Perranoski did) is ok, taking a drug that enhances performance - even if it isn't specifically banned yet! - is not. Come on, there is a difference between some new steroid derivative and Sugar Frosted Flakes, and today's players know that difference.
You're probably right: as long as sport is winning and losing, athletes will do ANY new thing to win until it is banned. I'm naive: as long as sport is being the best you can be, athletes will strive for personal perfection in a way that the rest of us can only admire.