Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Bonds Isn't the Worst

As Barry Bonds prepares to tie and surpass Babe Ruth on the all-time homerun list, ESPN offers this useful reminder that cheating used to be a much bigger part of the game than it is today. Particularly interesting is the account of how the Red Sox apparently threw a World Series game in 1912:

But for sheer gall it's hard to top the Red Sox's cheeky performance in the 1912 World Series. Up three games to two against the New York Giants of manager John "Mugsy" McGraw and ace Christy Mathewson, the Red Sox were heavily favored to clinch the Series with their ace -- "Smokey" Joe Wood, of the gaudy 34-5 record that season -- taking the slab.

Anyone who bet on the Giants that day -- and many members of the Red Sox probably did -- made a killing. Smoky Joe threw fewer than a dozen pitches in the first inning and was strafed for six runs. As Boston Globe baseball seer T.H. Murnane observed at the time, Wood wasn't smoking; he was lobbing. No stranger to an arranged game, McGraw bellowed at his charges to swing at Wood's first offering. With no outs and runners at first and second, Wood curiously chose to pitch out of a full windup rather than the stretch, permitting the Giants to pull off an easy double steal.

Boston's defense -- led by Tris Speaker, the best center fielder of his (or perhaps any) era -- made several suspicious gaffes in the first two innings. A pickoff attempt at second somehow managed to elude Heinie Wagner at short, Steve Yerkes at second, and Speaker sauntering in from center. Right fielder Harry Hooper had to retrieve the ball as the Giants sashayed around the bases.

Read the story for the account of how Speaker and Ty Cobb blackmailed commissioner Landis into reinstating them, after they had been suspended for gambling.

Back to the top.

No comments: