Bats, Bikes, Balls
It was too good to be true. In 1998, he broke Roger Maris’ single season home run record by hitting seventy home runs. He made baseball history by averaging one home run every 10.61 at bats. In 2010, Mark McGwire publically confessed his use of steroids (performance-enhancing drugs), which he abused off and on for over a decade. Yup, the “Bic Mac” was a cheater.
But, let’s be fair. Mark is in good company. According to ESPN, the list of twelve “all time” baseball cheaters includes: eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox team; Pete Rose (though my husband is arguing that his case is different); Jose Canseco; Sammy Sosa (who used steroids and a corked bat too); Jason Giambi; Barry Bonds; Rafael Palmeiro; (I’ll let Roger Clemens slide by since he was acquitted); Manny Ramirez; Ryan Braun; and Alex Rodriguez.
I guess if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Oh, well. Lots of boys cheat, right?
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It was too good to be true. Between 1999 and 2005, he won the Tour de France seven consecutive times. Not only was he a winner, but he was a cancer survivor too. What an athlete! What a guy!! Then, despite years of denying drug use, Lance Armstrong admitted the truth to Oprah Winfrey in 2013. Poof! Goodbye everything. Lance was a cheater all along.
But, let’s be fair. Lance is in good company. Quite a few Tour de France winners were cheaters. (We just don’t know much about THEM because they aren’t Americans!)
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It was too good to be true. Since 2007, the New England Patriots have fumbled the ball almost fifty percent less than any other football team in the NFL. Interestingly, before 2007, the team’s fumble rate was smack in the middle of the pack. So what changed? How’d the team suddenly get so good?
It seems that in 2007 a change was made to the playing rules. Each team’s quarterbacks were permitted to choose their own footballs with which to play during games. The balls, prior to a game, were to be checked for appropriate inflation and stored in a secured location until game time. Hmm. So, if every team is allowed to take advantage of this opportunity, how can one explain the dramatic increase of the Patriots’ success as compared to other teams’?
Two weeks ago it seems an answer may have been found. Eleven of twelve of the Patriots’ footballs were determined to be under-inflated in the game against the Indiana Colts. This means that the balls were softer; easier to catch, to throw, and to hold on to. (If you don’t believe me, check out this ESPN video.) Now, how exactly did the footballs come to be under-inflated? It’s a mystery (a.k.a. the truth hasn’t come out yet.) Regardless, I’m disappointed in Tom Brady. After watching the ESPN video, I am convinced that a quarterback of his caliber would have known — and felt — the difference between a soft versus a properly inflated ball.
Some day, however, the mystery will be solved. The truth will come out. Someone will talk. The Patriots may be going to the Super Bowl this year, but they are doing so under scrutiny and a veil of mistrust; and their fans are defensive. If the team — or Tom Brady — is found to be a cheater (which I unfortunately believe he will be), the club and he will be forever tarnished.
Remember boys, cheaters always get caught eventually. And, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.