Question of the Every Other Day or So: Cheating

With pitchers slightly ahead of hitters in getting hurt this season, I have to admit that an ethical question has been in my head since the Hall of Fame voting. Let’s say (this is hypothetical and not an accusation against anybody) one of the pitchers put down for the count this season did the following:

{exp:list_maker}Checked around for some “enhancement” rehab therapy that would be outside the rules of the game.
Spent quite a bit of time researching this new therapy and figuring out a way to mix it in with his normal rehab.
Weighed the pros and cons, including the risk of serving a suspension while on the DL.
Decided to not use this special enhancement rehab therapy.
The week after he came back from rehab, the story broke and he admitted that he looked into it. Teary eyed, he explained that he just wanted to get back on the field to help his team as quickly as possible, so he explored every avenue available to him. In the end, he just couldn’t break the rules{/exp:list_maker}

The question of the day is: Did he cheat?

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  1. Travis M. Nelson said...

    I saw a movie once in which they described a money laundering operation and thought to myself, “You know, that could work…”  Am I guilty of a felony?

  2. Brad Johnson said...


    To truly make this an analogy, you’d need to then develop the necessary contacts to set up said operation, discuss various illegal endeavors with various shady folks, and then scrap your plan after all the background work is done. There is a certain likelihood that you would have broken some (non-felony) laws in the process…something of the aiding and abetting nature.

    That said, I agree with your point, if you don’t physically cheat, you haven’t cheated. I see no reason any person should accept rule of law unquestioningly. They just need to be aware that breaking the rules carries consequences that need to be fully considered.

    My viewpoint on the topic is a little odd though, I see no problem with cheating so long as it does not disrupt the basic rights of some other person.

    Please note, that’s an extremely nuanced statement, a successful player who is caught using steroids can be said to have infringed on the basic rights of thousands of youths who emulated him and used similar products. The case of Sammy Sosa and the Corked Bat is a better fit for the type of cheating I half-secretly applaud.

  3. db said...

    So your hypothetical is that someone thinks about cheating or doing something illegal, thinks about how it would work, weighs the consequences, then decides against it?  Do you really need to ask that question?  That is not an ethical dilemma.  It is plain and simply not cheating.

  4. ralf said...

    While waiting in line at the bank, you think up a really good plan for robbing the place. You then conduct your normal bank business without attempting to rob anyone. Are you a bank robber? Obviously not.

    If a baseball player doesn’t put PED’s in his body or help another player obtain PED’s then there’s no cheating going on.

  5. Jim C said...

    No, but I’ll bet this hypothetical pitcher has thrown a spitball or 10, just to sow some seeds of douby in hitters’ minds.

  6. David said...

    I think that, speaking literally, the posters here are right: if there’s no offense committed, the issue ends right there.  The comparison to fantasizing about robbing banks works well, I believe.

    Legally, though, I think that “conspiracy to commit——-” could be an issue.  With the insanely large (and very mysterious) <a href=“”>drop in violent crime since 1990, cops and prosecutors have to attempt to justify their jobs (and full benefits and fat pensions) and so they’ve devolved into using their “discretion” to prosecute people for thought crimes and lots of technicalities.  And I believe that just contemplating a crime can be construed as one.  Of course, there are, like, 10,000,000 laws in the U.S., and so I’m pretty sure that anything can be argued to be illegal by an aggressive prosecutor.

    The most hilarious thing about the “steroids” was that, when the media and the fans were at their most high-pitched fervor, feigning outrage every time a ballplayer visited GNC, MLB was (and probably still is) making a killing in their TV advertisements by airing commercials for….steroids. 

    I swear, do you know what the, “Is it Low T?” commercials are selling?  Synthetic testosterone, a.k.a. steroids.  It’s just that, there, the government says it’s okay.  (Kinda like how heroin will get a poor person in prison for years, but its pharmaceutical identical twin – Oxycontin – is a perfectly legal drug as long as you get a doctor to rubber-stamp your prescription, which they do 100/100 times.)

  7. Mat Kovach said...

    From David: “The comparison to fantasizing about robbing banks works well, I believe.”

    Actually, it doesn’t and here is why.

    If you think about robbing a bank, even going as far as, perhaps, work with others to plan it. There is one *really* easy to to determine if you followed through with your plan: Was the bank robbed?

    So, for the people that said this wasn’t cheating, I have to ask where is the proof, his word? The lack of a positive test?

    In the case I presented, how can we confirmed the player’s story? We can’t. A lack of a positive test can’t be use to prove or disprove his story.

  8. Travis M. Nelson said...

    The “proof”, Matt, is that you told us he decided against it.  So we started this silly exercise with the understanding that he had not in fact ingested anything that would qualify as a banned substance, because that’s what you said.  The initial question was did he cheat simply by planning to do so, and the answer is an emphatic “no”. 

    The question of whether he might have been suspended for planning to cheat without actually cheating is another issue entirely, and not the question you initially asked.

  9. Mat Kovach said...

    I said that “he said”, not if he was completely truthful, or left out any parts. I’m not exactly sure why people would assume what he said was truthful. He just admitted to searching for a way to obtain and use illegal drugs or use legal drugs without proper doctor care, behind the team’s back.

    Note: I mentioned Hall of Fame voting, where many people pointed to the “gamesmanship” mention in the Hall Voting. This is where my ethical question came from.

  10. Joel said...

    Ask your wife/significant other if flirting with an attractive while you’re at a bar with your male friends = cheating? You didn’t physically do anything (except talk) but if she found out there may be hell to pay (depending on the woman).

  11. Joel said...

    My point is that a significant percentage of the current BBWAA are the equivalent of the women who would break up with someone over the grey area of flirting.

  12. Bill said...

    “While waiting in line at the bank, you think up a really good plan for robbing the place. You then conduct your normal bank business without attempting to rob anyone. Are you a bank robber? Obviously not.”

    That is a very tame example. If a team were caught with the blueprints to the bank building, vault codes, and a detailed written plan for how to execute and plan a getaway for a bank heist but they never attempted the crime then that is still a conspiracy charge and you’re going to federal prison for about 5 years.

  13. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Well conspiracy is just:
    Agreement to do something illegal + Overt act in furtherance (e.g., if bank robbing, all you’d have to do is scope out the bank)

    Attempt is substantial steps towards completion, it requires more proximity to the crime.

    Not a lawyer, just my 2 cents. smile

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