Home' South Florida Times : SFT 051415 Contents 8A | MAY 14 — 20, 2015 | SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES | SFLTIMES.COM
What: It's too long a list to mention in
a sport where almost anything can be
adjusted to turn things to a player's ad-
vantage. From spitballs (clearly illegal),
to pine tar (illegal in some instances),
to watered-down, speed-sapping fields
(nothing really wrong with this one),
baseball has a laundry list of items, all of
which are changeable and anything but
Why: In the case of the most time-
honored tradition, the spitball, any sort of
substance placed on the ball, or any sort
of scuff marks, can change the weight
and resistance of the ball and make it
move in unpredictable ways. That's why
MLB works in the game balls with its own
mud, mined only from a branch of the
Delaware River in southern New Jersey,
and acts swiftly if a pitcher is seen apply-
ing any other substance.
Exhibit A: Perry was the spitball
king. But for pure comedy, it was Twins
knuckleballer Joe Niekro's lame at-
tempt in 1987 to casually toss away a
piece of emery board he from his back
pocket while standing on the pitcher's
mound in front of 33,983 fans that takes
the cake. Niekro got ejected and sus-
pended for 10 days. He claimed he used
the emery board to file his nails.
nothing new in
games people play
By EDDIE PELLS
AP National Writer
If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.
The credit for that old saying gen-
erally goes to NASCAR legend Richard
Petty, though it just as easily could have
come from Tom Brady, Gaylord Perry
or pretty much any of the millions who
have thrown, pitched or hit a ball since
people started playing sports.
Blurring the line between legal and
illegal, then figuring out how to get
away with it, is as old as keeping score.
But what two New England Patriots
employees did when they executed
a plan to deflate footballs to Brady’s
liking according to an NFL-commis-
sioned report by lawyer Ted Wells was
a direct violation of a well-defined rule
about equipment that didn’t leave room
for shades of gray.
And while America waited impa-
tiently to find out that the penalty for
Brady’s violation — a four game sus-
pension is unprecedented, the idea
of taking liberties with playing equip-
ment is hardly a new one.
A quick examination of the way
bats, balls, rackets, clubs and other
equipment has been manipulated over
What: A sport with an incredibly com-
plex rulebook; sometimes the rules are
rewritten during the season to catch up
with the latest forms of rule-bending.
Why: The most subtle change in a
car’s suspension, its height off the ground
or the makeup of its tires can buy frac-
tions of seconds in a sport where every
Exhibit A: Maybe it’s the stuff that
never got called and produced the oc-
casional too-good-to-be-true result. How
did Dale Earnhardt Jr., without the help
of a thought-to-be-mandatory draft-
ing partner on one of the sport’s fast-
est tracks, overcome six cars down the
stretch to win the first race at Daytona
after his dad died there? And how was it
that on July 4, 1984, with President Rea-
gan in the stands, an aging Richard Petty
was able to muster up the stuff to win his
200th (and final) race? Conspiracy theo-
rists, start your engines.
What: Players aren’t supposed to pur-
posely change the shape or “sharpness” of
the balls. In most pro matches, new balls are
put into play every nine games.
Why: By fluffing up a ball, a player who
doesn’t hit the ball as hard as their opponent
could gain an advantage by slowing it down.
Exhibit A: In a match against Serena
Williams in the 2013 Madrid Open, Spain’s
Anabel Medina Garrigues was caught by
a camera rubbing tennis balls against the
face of her racket, presumably in a bid to
loosen the outer layer and make them fluff-
ier. She won a set 6-0 against Williams but
wound up losing the match.
What: The sport’s ruling bodies pub-
lish a conforming list for the types of
balls and clubs that can be used.
Why: One recent rules change came in
2010 when the governing bodies banned
square grooves in wedges because they
helped players put more backspin on the
ball, which can make it stop more quickly
on the greens once it lands.
Exhibit A: An exception to that rule
resulted from a lawsuit settlement that
called for any club made before April
1, 1990 to take precedence over a rule
change. At one tournament, Phil Mickel-
son decided to use some pre-1990 Ping
clubs with the old grooves and Scott
McCarron said Mickelson’s using the
wedges amounted to cheating. McCar-
ron apologized to Mickelson, who said
he had made his point and wouldn’t be
using the wedges. It was hard to know
if those square grooves really produced
more spin because the clubs were so old.
What: A regulation NBA ball is supposed
to be inflated to between 7.5 and 8.5 pounds
per square inch. Traditionally, before a game
starts, the referee will ask the captain of the
home team to pick a ball, and often there’s
an “X” conveniently marked on the ball the
players have decided they like the best.
Why: A team that likes to pass a lot and
hopes the rebounds won’t ricochet too far
off the rim might choose a less-inflated ball.
There’s also the sense of feel. A ball that
feels more worn can be easier to handle.
Point guards who pass the ball more than
others would usually like that.
Exhibit A: Around the time Deflategate
hit, stories about Phil Jackson’s Knicks
teams of the 1970s resurfaced. Those teams,
starring Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, Walt Fra-
zier and Dave DeBusschere, liked a deflated
basketball. In the 1990s, Jackson told sto-
ries about how they used to carry needles
around to get balls to their liking. He went
on Twitter in the aftermath of Deflategate
to explain that they never deflated the balls
below league standards.
never got called and produced the oc- rists, start your engines.
PHOTO MONTAGES BY MJURY/FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES
(Left to right) Joe Niekro and Perry
(Left to right) Phil Mickelson and Scott McCarron
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
(Left to right) Anabel Medina Garrigues and Serena Williams
Phil Jackson today and from 1970
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