When they throw spitballs
By Ernest Falkner III
Zillion Dollar Thinking
(And other present day decisioning deceptions)
The history of illegal baseball spitballs reverts to days when the pitch was actually legal. Because an official size baseball will not fit in the mouth of a professional ballplayer, the saliva required to make a spitball must be applied to the ball either directly from the player's mouth, or via a finger or fingers.
Spit, like many foreign substances, can make a baseball change direction on its way to home plate when thrown by a skilled pitcher. In 1920, Major League Baseball deemed spitballs an unfair advantage for pitchers, and therefore banned the pitch. The basic rule is: (a) a pitcher shall not "apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball." (b) a pitcher shall not "expectorate (spit) on the ball, either hand or his glove."
Even with the explicit ruling, major league pitchers have continued to throw spitballs and other "funny" pitches throughout the years. Once in a great while someone will be caught. Generally, pitchers are either clever enough to get away with their mischief, or umpires choose to ignore it (turn their head), waiting for it to become obvious or excessive, or challenged by the opposing team.
Point is, some folks (deceptive baseball players and deviant others) are determined to bend the rules with slight of hand (and spit) and attempt to get away with it, or drive their own agenda.
As if it is not hard enough already, in the world of decisioning, watching the right hand while the left hand is picking your pocket is a definite obstacle to informed decision making.
Like throwing spitballs:
- Some will still try you after all these years (This ruling was in 1920.)
- Watch both hands (One rubs while the other applies the juice.)
- There is a price (Censured, kicked out, penalized, banned…)
- Some would prefer that you decide wrongly (When it’s in their best interest.)
- Due diligence is more critical than ever (Do they have a history of spitballs?)
- Add your personal experiences
"Spitball me once … Shame on you. Spitball me twice … Shame on me."