Deceit, Treachery and Dishonesty

We have recently been bombarded with discussions about Aroid (Alex Rodriguez), Ryan “Not Me” Braun and the many other players indicted in the the Biogenesis case regarding ball players using performance enhancing drugs (PED’s).  Before that we had Barry “Big Head” Bonds, Rafael “Yes I pointed My Finger at Congress” Palmiero, Roger “I Misremembered” Clemens and of course Bartolo “I think I am Harpo Marx Reincarnated” Colon.  All this talk just takes away from the game.  But what about the game?

Baseball is full of deceit, treachery and dishonesty.  Think about what happens in every game:

  • When a runner reaches base, he is regularly trying to “steal”
  • When a runner is on first base, the pitcher is trying to pick him off with a “deceptive” move
  • Catchers are always trying to move a pitch that is slightly high/low/outside or inside to “steal” a strike call
  • Runners on second base are always trying to “steal” the catchers signs to let the batter know what pitch is coming
  • Players in the dugout are trying to see if a pitcher is “tipping” his pitches so they can tell what pitch is coming
  • Pitchers change the cadence/timing of their pitches to “deceive” the hitter
  • Infielders hide the ball in their glove after a play to try to pick the runner off when he takes his lead
  • Pitchers throw a “change up” with the same arm speed as a “fast ball”

And here are some classic examples of teams/players trying to find an advantage:

  • Sammy Sosa broke a bat during a game and cork popped out – cork is used to lighten the bat to hit the ball further
  • Mike Scott, former Houston Astros pitcher, had incredible movement on his pitches.  Was it really a surprise when they found an emery board in his back pocket used to scuff each ball
  • Gaylord Perry, 314 game winner, went through a routine on the mound to put doubt in the batters mind about what substance he was putting on the ball.  In fact there was no doubt; he was using all types of illegal substances on the ball
  • John McGraw, an oldie but goodie – In an era of dirty baseball, he was the dirtiest player on the dirtiest team. He hid balls in the outfield, spiked opposing players, watered down the base paths, grew the infield grass to deaden bunts
  • The 1951 NY Giants – Came back from a 13 1/2 game deficit in August of 1951 to win the pennant.  Here is one way they did it.  Coach Herman Franks would sit in the Giants clubhouse, conveniently located past center field, and use a telescope to read the catcher’s signs. He’d then set off a bell or buzzer in the Giants bullpen that would identify the next pitch, and a relay man would signal it in to the hitter
  • Whitey Ford, Hall of Fame NY Yankees pitcher – Ford used his wedding ring to cut the ball, or had catcher Elston Howard put a nice slice in it with a buckle on his shin guard. Ford also planted mud pies around the mound and used them to load the ball. He confessed that when pitching against the Dodgers in the 1963 World Series, “I used enough mud to build a dam.” He also threw a “gunk ball,” which combined a mixture of baby oil, turpentine, and resin. He kept the “gunk” in a roll-on dispenser, which, the story goes, Yogi Berra once mistook for deodorant, gluing his arms to his sides in the process 🙂
  • Amos Otis, former Kansas City Royals outfielder and 5 time all star – He admitted using a funky bat much of his career. “I had enough cork and superballs in there to blow away anything,” he said. “I had a very close friend who made the bats for me. He’d drill a hole down the barrel and stuff some superballs and cork in it. Then he put some sawdust back into the hole, sandpapered it down and added a little pine tar over the top of it. The bat looked brand new.”

Queue the Fogerty tuneage:

Baseball, America’s pastime.  Deceit, treachery and dishonesty is welcome here 🙂  So what’s a little “cream” or the “clear” amongst friends?

Webman

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Nice Face

Facial recognition software will end privacy once and for all.  Your face now provides marketers and the government with the ability to link that fabulous mug shot you put on Facebook to everything there is to know about you.  That’s right.  You thought you were just posting your smiley face for your friends to see?  Not exactly.

Queue the music:

The government has some restrictions with facial recognition software, but they are spending a ton of money to figure this out.  Retailers on the other hand have the ability to use your face to send you promotional offers – the linking between the on-line world and the off-line world.  Europe has tougher rules (You need to opt in there), but here in the US, the technology is way ahead of the law.  Even if you have never put your own picture up anywhere in the internet you can be found if you were included in any picture any one has ever taken of you.  So yes, Grandpa or Grandma who have refused to embrace anything digital and still read the paper in the morning, have been digitized and are therefore searchable.

A company called redpepper (www.redpepperland.com) has started a program called Facedeals.  Here is how it works.  Facial recognition cameras are installed at local businesses. These cameras recognize your face when you pass by, then check you in at the location. Simultaneously, your smartphone notifies you of a customized deal based on your Like history on Facebook.  Creepy?

Yes, there are companies out there today that are putting all the little fragments of your life together, both on-line and off-line to get to know you a little better.  They might know you, but you will never know them.  Minority Report is much closer than you might think.

Webman

“Sustainabell” Value

Over a cup of coffee on Sunday morning, I will occasionally watch the show, Sunday Morning on CBS.  The show has been on forever and is often filled with very interesting topics, opinions and perspectives. You can learn more about the show at http://www.cbsnews.com/sunday-morning/

Yesterdays show was focused on architecture, focusing on new designs that look old among other topics.  The story that captured my attention however was about bells.  Yes, church bells.  Talk about sustainabell value (see what I did there) 🙂

The Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli (or Marinelli Pontifical Foundry, Marinelli Bell Foundry) was founded in 1339 in the Apennine hills of Italy. The village of Agnone, where the foundry is located, “has a tradition of foundries that dates back 10 centuries.”  The current leaders of the family business are the brothers Armando and Pasquale Marinelli.  They are the 26th generation of Marinelli’s to lead the family business.

The foundry typically produces up to 50 bells a year and currently employs around 12 people.  The firm’s managers still apply the same lost wax casting technique that the firm’s founders used nearly a thousand years ago. The artisans use wax to transfer the bell’s designs onto a brick “core” slathered with clay, slightly smaller than the bell to be forged. Another layer of clay is applied to form a “false bell”. After this hardens, the wax inside is melted, leaving the imprint of the design on the inside of the false bell. Molten bronze, at a temperature of 1,200 degrees Celsius (2,200 degrees Fahrenheit), is poured into the space to form the bell.

Amazing, just amazing.  Everyday we read about businesses trying to build sustainable companies.  Looks like the Marinelli family has figured that out.  For more information about the foundry and the family, please visit their website at http://www.campanemarinelli.com/inglese/index2.php

Enjoy the day.

Webman