There Is Crying in Baseball
Dr. Bill Summerhill, Head of School
In A League of Their Own, that wonderful movie about an all-female professional baseball team in the 1940s, Tom Hanks chides his players with the memorable line, “There’s no crying in baseball.” This week we’ve learned, however, that he was wrong. Just ask the Houston Astros, New York Mets and Boston Red Sox.
In a disciplinary move that will be remembered alongside the steroid abuses of the 1990s and the “Black” Sox scandal of 1919, one general manager and three field managers were fired for cheating during the 2017 baseball season. Their crime? Using technology to steal signs that gave their hitters an unfair advantage, helping them win over 100 games and triumph in the World Series.
What to most fans is an embarrassing, regrettable moment in baseball history may actually be a refreshing confirmation of an old maxim that we don’t always believe to be true: cheaters never prosper. In two major media stories we’ve learned how true this is. Parents are paying the price for fabricating SAT scores and high school transcripts so their children could secure admission into prestigious universities. And now those baseball cheaters are losing their jobs for giving their batters insider information to enhance their chances at the plate.
Everybody wants to win in life. And the price one must pay in hard work, sacrifice, and self-discipline over a long period of time may seem too much for some. Cheating tempts us with the hope that we can get away with something with much less effort. Sadly, cheating sometimes works—at least for a while. Yet cheating nonetheless offends us because it tilts the playing field towards those who deceive and take shortcuts to gain what most of us try to earn through talent and diligence. While cheating may appear to be clever and inventive, it is actually selfish and cowardly. And when those who choose deception are caught, we can all smile a bit, knowing that decency and dedication to playing fair has, against so many cultural odds, prevailed once again.
As a baseball fan I feel betrayed by the choices of those who have tainted this sport I love so much. But as an educator I am relieved and encouraged to see that those who cheat do not prosper, even in this age, but must pay a terrible price for their actions. I guess there really is something to be said for giving an honest effort in all that we do to be successful. And I guess there is something to be said for schools, like ours, that try to inspire honesty and personal responsibility in our students in these important, character-building years of their lives.