Every newspaper that has baseball coverage has been carrying the story of Manny Ramirez. He tested positive for a banned substance, a female fertility drug. One of baseball’s best right handed batters did not deny the test results. Manny Ramirez has been banned from baseball for fifty games. It is a penalty that has stirred major league baseball. And the findings cast considerable doubt on past achievements, including World Series records.
This seems like a low point for the current baseball season. However, it may be argued that a worst allegation had surfaced already. That involved Alex Rodriguez and the allegation in a recent book that he pitch tipped. It is alleged that Alex Rodriguez informed opposing players through signals that a certain pitch was about to be thrown.
The Manny Ramirez debacle may be seen in the light that he wanted to improve his performance and enhance his team’s play. There is no denying that using banned drugs to boost performance is cheating. However, that action was not directly detrimental to his team and his team-mates, until he was caught using the banned substance.
The allegations against Alex Rodriguez are far more egregious. If the alleged behaviour is validated, Alex Rodriguez not only cheated. He betrayed his team-mates.
It may be said that this pitch-tipping did not have an impact on games. The games may have been won since his team already had substantial leads. However, that does not mean that it did not impact significantly upon his team-mates.
A pitcher, for example, may have been throwing his best pitches which were being hit, with the assistance of prior information. That has direct consequences on the pitcher’s performance record and his confidence. In essence, if the pitch-tipping occurred, it had direct negative consequences on a team-mate.
If the allegations against Alex Rodriguez are true, it flies in the face of the ‘ethos of team’. Trust is assumed in team sports. One goes into athletic battles with team-mates. For a member of the team to betray that trust and to violate the sanctity of the fellowship within a clubhouse comes close to the lowest of bottom feeding. To some people, it may fall into the category of “unforgivable transgression”.