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The Cheater's Guide to Baseball Paperback – April 2, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (April 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618551131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618551132
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #536,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Baseball blogger Zumsteg (ussmariner.com) argues that cheating-within reason-is not only not a bad thing, it actually makes baseball a more nuanced game. Using a wealth of anecdotal evidence and some statistical analysis, he argues that baseball has evolved hand-in-hand with the aid of its scoundrels, scamps, and shifty characters-and that doctoring the ball or stealing signs necessitates teams, umpires and even fans adopt more complex strategy. Zumsteg draws the line at gambling, game fixing and steroid use, showing little sympathy for the Black Sox and even less for Pete Rose. While baseball aficionados will be familiar with many of Zumsteg's stories, his wit will keep most casual fans entertained. Whether he's describing what might happen in a car crash with Pete Rose ("I admitted that I hit your car ... Can't we stop this witch-hunt and get on with our lives?") or laying blame for the steroid era on everyone from the commissioner to the fans, Zumsteg dispenses with the sanctimoniousness of most current sports writing. Although his prose style and humor are sometimes better suited to the Web (a few lengthy asides come across as amateurish), Zumsteg still creates a funny, honest look at the history of baseball's black arts.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Baseball blogger Zumsteg (ussmariner.com) argues that cheating-within reason-is not only not a bad thing, it actually makes baseball a more nuanced game. Using a wealth of anecdotal evidence and some statistical analysis, he argues that baseball has evolved hand-in-hand with the aid of its scoundrels, scamps, and shifty characters-and that doctoring the ball or stealing signs necessitates teams, umpires and even fans adopt more complex strategy. Zumsteg draws the line at gambling, game fixing and steroid use, showing little sympathy for the Black Sox and even less for Pete Rose. While baseball aficionados will be familiar with many of Zumsteg's stories, his wit will keep most casual fans entertained. Whether he's describing what might happen in a car crash with Pete Rose ("I admitted that I hit your car ... Can't we stop this witch-hunt and get on with our lives?") or laying blame for the steroid era on everyone from the commissioner to the fans, Zumsteg dispenses with the sanctimoniousness of most current sports writing. Although his prose style and humor are sometimes better suited to the Web (a few lengthy asides come across as amateurish), Zumsteg still creates a funny, honest look at the history of baseball's black arts.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  (Publishers Weekly )

It's been said that an athlete who "ain't cheatin' ain't tryin'" and that "rules are made to be broken." Zumsteg (coauthor, Baseball Prospectus) has written a lively and challenging account of cheating as part of America's pastime, whether it's the habits of particular notables, such as Gaylord Perry and his spitball, or modern day pharmaceutical legerdemain. He also ponders such issues as whether it's cheating to try to bunt to break up a no hitter. No, it ensures that the game evolves and progresses! This one's a sure hit. (Library Journal ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Highly recommended for both the casual baseball fan, and the serious aficionado.
Phillip Hatzenbuehler
Zumsteg does a great job of mixing a very fun read with enough facts and analysis to be educational.
Josh
The heckling chapter is basically filler and has virtually nothing to do with cheating.
BobH

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. S. Burton on April 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
In Joe Posnanski's 2007 book about baseball ambassador Buck O'Neil, The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America, Posnanski watches O'Neil, who is watching the steroid hearings:

"... he had known players to bend the rules to win-- they corked bats, spit on the ball, popped amphetimines, stole signals, and even loaded up on coffee for the caffeine. They wanted to win. "The only reason players in my time didn't use steroids," he would say sometimes, "is because we didn't have them.""

As Derek Zumsteg illustrates in 'The cheater's guide to baseball', O'Neil's sanguine sentiment towards winning at any cost goes back to the earliest days of the game's history.

Zumsteg's very first chapter looks at the effect the 1890s Orioles teams had on baseball as it is played today, and goes forward through time from there. He looks at both the practical and the theoretical aspects of cheating, and how cheating as an art form has colored the national pastime. Well-researched history mixes with flights of fancy, how-to diagrams sit next to game photos, and the whole is a tremendously entertaining read. Zumsteg may not paint the Elysian Fields image of baseball, but it is a portrait that Buck O'Neil would both recognize and appreciate.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Sylvan Lowens on May 12, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lot's of interesting anecdotes and research. A few edit errors--a story with several names in it is recounted, then wrong name referred to in discussing the event afterwards, for example. And a sometimes full throttle "buncha beer buddies yuk-yukking it" tone that was for me distracting and annoying in the context of an otherwise educating read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Hochberg on April 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
Timing is everything, in Baseball as in Comedy. What a perfect accompaniment to the beginning of Baseball Season. Mr. Zumsteg takes the reader on an in-depth, and deeply amusing journey through the history of ne'er-do-wells in baseball. And some of them actually did quite well! How many widely accepted practices are absolutely against the rules? Why are some of these implicitly accepted and some cause for histrionic hysteria? Is one kind of cheating worse than another? And what are some ways that you, the modern fan, can observe and identify cheating as it happens on the field in front of you? If you'd like to make baseball even more fun to watch this year or any year, order a copy and keep it handy.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By BobH on August 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
While I'm sure Zumsteg knows a lot about baseball, the sloppiness of this book makes me question its accuracy. A couple of quick examples:

* At one point he talks about the Red Sox glory days early in the century and says the Sox "would not return to the World Series for another 84 years." Of course, they were in the series numerous times in those 84 years -- they just never won it.

* He also refers to former Orioles "Bobby Grinch" and "Doug DeCines."

Now, those are basic things I know off the top of my head. While I realize his editors deserve some blame, I can't help but think much of the book is hogwash.

While the writing is relatively entertaining, this is basically something that should have been a magazine article that he stretched into a book. The heckling chapter is basically filler and has virtually nothing to do with cheating. Other chapters, while related to cheating (in some form), are similarly overblown.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Harry Teasley on May 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
"Charlton's mid-90's heat comes from grabbing little Norm, which he does a major-league-leading 3.1 times per pitch thrown. This makes him [...] families with kids as well as on opposing batters." It was this bit of bathroom-humor dry wit in the 2002 Baseball Prospectus that made me want to know who the writer was. It was Derek Zumsteg, and he is a lot of fun to read.

The Cheater's Guide to Baseball is a more enjoyable book than Field of Screams: The Dark Underside of America's National Pastime, the last book on baseball's cheaters and [....] that I read. But where Scheinin seems to have a grudge against baseball, a sort of urgent, unsympathetic need to pop the balloon of myth surrounding baseball, Zumsteg's love of baseball comes through, with that wit he once displayed at Baseball Prospectus and currently at USS Mariner.

This book isn't about condemning the game's meanest men, or its rosy, false self-image, it's about enjoying what the game is, which was deeply informed by these men and their bad behavior. It's about understanding the whole continuum of "cheating", from the legal lie of the hidden ball, to the illegal lie of doctored balls and corked bats. It's an adult look at what the game is, not the naive attitude most have when a scandal breaks out. The hand-wringing of the media over these issues befits ten-year-olds, not adults capable of nuanced undertanding. Derek Zumsteg knows from nuance, enough to crack wise while seriously discussing it. I definitely recommend this.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Hatzenbuehler on May 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
As enjoyable as "Ball Four", and easily as eye-opening, this book doesn't get caught up in the glorified, rose-colored-glasses view of the past to which many baseball books fall victim. It is painstakingly researched, and covers some very sensitive, serious subject matter, yet manages to keep a humorous tone throughout. I'm glad Derek didn't shy away from talking about steroids in a candid light, given the hysteria and concern (some of it legitimate, some of it over-blown) surrounding this subject.

Highly recommended for both the casual baseball fan, and the serious aficionado.
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