Unless you have been under a rock in Nats Town, you know by now that in the bottom of the eighth inning of last night’s 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Washington Nationals facilitated in the ejection of relief pitcher Joel Peralta in what was quite a crazy scene.
Before the beginning of the inning, Nats skipper Davey Johnson asked home plate umpire Tim Tschida to take a look at Peralta’s glove. Tschida quickly investigated the mitt and found a “foreign substance,” either on, or inside of it. Peralta was thrown out of the game, the glove was confiscated, and the temperature at field level was immediately raised as Rays’ manager Joe Madden was not happy about what went down in a rare road trip to Washington.
What makes last night’s situation particularly juicy is that Peralta, the Rays’ set-up man, had previously pitched for the Nationals in 2010. While the team has changed dramatically since that time, there are still a handful of players and coaches that would have been former teammates of Peralta, and very may well have known firsthand about his “pitching aids.”
So if someone on Washington snitched, which it would seem like they must have, did they break an unwritten rule of baseball? We all know that players look out for each other; they are binded by silent agreements not to show each other up, not to actively harm one another. But are there rules about protecting cheaters? The steroid era would suggest so, but the game has come a long way since the late 1990’s and fans, players, and the media saw firsthand what happens when you let a bad thing get out of hand.
But last night’s actions were hardly done for the sake of “the integrity of the game.” The Nats are in the midst of the losing streak, and for sure this was done more as an action to gain the tiniest advantage in a game where the Nats were on pace to lose. Ultimately the move did not help them come from behind to win the game, and the real result will likely be a suspension for Peralta, which will in no way help the Nats in the long run. It was a power move, a power move that didn’t have enough weight behind it to make a difference.
Cheating is cheating, there is no question about that. As a young fan who grew up during the steroid era, I struggled as the men who I considered heroes fell from grace as shriveled shells of their former selves in court rooms. I have no patience for cheating, and I want it removed completely from the game. But if Peralta did use foreign substances in his glove to help give him an advantage in 2010, and the Nationals allowed it then, how could they possibly cry foul in 2012 when the situation was reversed? If you allow your own players to cheat (which I’m sure most if not all of the teams in baseball do), you can’t call out those players for doing the same thing while on another team. You just can’t.
Now, it very well could be the case that someone in the Washington organization became aware of Peralta’s exploits and forbade him from doing it while on the Nats. A betting man would say that if he a player tries to cheat for one organization, and is not allowed, he will again try to the same exploits when he moves to his new club. Unfortunately, if we do know one thing about insider baseball rules, we will not know the truth behind this story for at least a decade.