Busting Baseball Crib Notes

I’m old enough to remember hiding “crib notes” in my hand when attempting to not fail a trigonometry exam. Oh c’mon, you did it too. Maybe you scribbled some facts in pen on your hands or arms. Get caught, you get sent to the principal’s office, or worse, get a F on the exam. Aw, don’t act self-righteous about it. I bet you read the Classic Comic version of Silas Marner or dove into the Cliff Notes rather than suffer through the actual, depressing book.

Yeah, yeah, it’s technically cheating, which has me thinking about what’s become glaring demonstrations of cribbing among Major League Baseball players. It’s right there on TV. Catchers sport those flip up things attached to their wrists that contain intelligence on opposing batters. Pitchers and position players doff their caps where they’re hiding cheat sheets on how to play the next guy at bat.

I don’t know the exact wording but I’m imagining something like, “Joey Bagadonuts sucks at hitting sliders,” “Andy Eatme hits to short right field and has bad breath.” This is invaluable intelligence as to how to pitch to or defend against the hitter. But it just smacks of smuggling crib notes into the test room.

Boston- 07/25/19- Boston Red Sox vs NY Yankees- Sox pitcher Rick Porcello looks into his hat in the 2nd inning as Yankees Aaron Judge comes to the plate. Photo by John Tlumacki/Globe Staff(metro)

OK, I’ll invoke it. What I was a kid, players just, well, remembered things about their opposition or had a feeling about the guy and acted accordingly. Can you imagine a grouchy Nolan Ryan looking inside his cap for advice on how to brush back a batter with a 100 mph fastball? Screw it, he’d just terrorize the guy on general principles because it’s fun.

If Ryan’s catcher had the temerity to flip up and refer to crib notes on his wrist and then actually suggest a pitch based on that information, I’m guessing he’s the one who would get the heater aimed at his head.

Did Willie Mays need notes hiding on his head? Are you kidding? Ball goes up, ball comes down… in his mitt. What’s so hard about that? Nothing, if you’re Willie Mays.

I know, it’s all related to the scourge of sports related Sabremetric, data, numbersnumbernumbers, blah blah blah blah.

Go ahead, without Googling it, tell me what OPS is. Sure, some of you will know, others will pretend they know, honest ones will say, “don’t give a shit.” What’s the guy hitting? Launch angle? It’s baseball, not NASA. The ball’s gotta rendezvous with the fielder’s mitt, not Venus.

during Sunday’s baseball game against the on April 15, 2018, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

I love it when they tell me how fast the ball left the bat. Sure, it lets you know how hard the guy swings but honestly, some of the most effective swings are slow and easy and result in run scoring hits.

All these esoteric stats may be included in these cheat sheets but to me sports is all about training, natural talent, instinct and spitting.

But it would be fun to see the umps crack down on this stuff, like test proctors, ejecting guys for using the crib notes on their wrists and under their hats rather than playing the game using their heads.

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