Peralta, Maddon and pine tar: Let's face it. He cheated.

How so?

Well, it's either against the rules to have pine tar in your glove or it isn't. And if it is, and the Nationals had some inside information (which they did, as Peralta played for the Nats), then it made sense to use that information at an opportune time. Didn't it?

Maddon didn't think so, saying that Johnson was ?underhanded? and Johnson having the umpires check Peralta?s glove was ?possibly a form of cheating? and cowardly.

But the topper is Mark Topkin's story in this morning's Times, in which Peralta whines about whoever on the Nationals turned him in.

Peralta, who played for the Nationals in 2010, was still upset over the incident that started when Washington manager Davey Johnson, admittedly acting on inside information, asked the umpires to check Peralta's glove when he came in to pitch the eighth inning.

"I don't know why he did it," Peralta said. "I would like to know why, but I'm not going to ask that."

The 36-year-old right-hander did seem to be narrowing the field of candidates who supplied the information to Johnson, who took over as manager last season. He said he knew it didn't come from any of the players, as several told him "they were really sorry about what happened."

And he ruled out one of four members of the coaching staff who were with the team in 2010, current first-base coach and former Triple-A manager Trent Jewett, who he said was awesome and "kind of like my dad in Triple A." That leaves pitching coach Steve McCatty, bullpen coach Jim Lett and hitting coach Rick Eckstein.

Wait a minute. Let me get something straight. Who the f*ck cheated here? Peralta did, a point that Tom Jones emphasized in his take in the Times earlier this week.

What is it with baseball and the lack of respect for rules or laws?

Steroids were actually banned in baseball in the 1980s, but they never began testing players for using performance enhancement drugs until 2002.

Or better yet, how about amphetamines? Also known as "bennies" or "speed."

In the New York Daily News earlier this month, veteran baseball scribe Bill Madden said after speaking to numerous people in the game, the reason pitchers are dominating for the second consecutive season (already there have been five no-hitters) is because the players aren't on speed anymore.

"It was one thing to get steroids cleaned up, but most people agree that ridding the game of amphetamines has had an even bigger impact as far as the position players versus the pitchers," one major league official told me. "Between the schedule - more and more weekday getaway games are being scheduled at night because of the teams' local TV ratings considerations - and the fact that the position players play every day, not having the benefit of that extra 'boost' has clearly had an effect."

So back to the Nats-Rays imbroglio. I'm not really sure why there's so much macho posturing (such as the Phillies' Cole Hamels hitting the Nationals' young star Bryce Harper with a 93-mph fastball last month, just because, well, just because it was "old-school," according to the Philly pitcher). But there is, and that's what seems to be going on here.

Players will always cheat in sports, especially in baseball, to get a competitive edge. If you can get away with it, well, there you go. But if you get busted, deal with it. Is that asking for too much?

What Hamels did to Harper was sort of dumb, to cut the young kid down to size because he was doing so well. So does getting busted for cheating and then blaming the other guy.

Congratulations to the Miami Heat and their fans after ending the NBA season last night by smashing the Oklahoma City Thunder and winning their second championship, 4 games to 1.

Now with a little break for the Summer Olympics late next month, American sports fans will only have baseball to look forward to until September, when football, the country's most popular sport returns. (Yes, I'm avoiding soccer here, folks.)

But can I go on a bit of a rant of how dumb-ass baseball can be sometimes?

Case in point? This past week's contretemps between Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon and the Washington Nationals' Davie Johnson, after Johnson asked an umpire in Tuesday night's game to check whether Rays reliever Joel Peralta had pine tar in his glove.

He did have it in his glove, which is against baseball rules. He was kicked out of the game and yesterday received an eight-game suspension, reduced from the original ten games.

Pitchers use pine tar, a sticky substance, to improve the tackiness of their gloves. But it is against the rules, which Rays manager Joe Maddon knows. But somehow Johnson and the Nationals were the ones at fault here, according to the Rays skipper.


Look, I know most fans around here think Joe Maddon walks on water. And I applaud him for sticking up for his players — it's an extremely important asset for any leader to have. But the machismo bluster that he's kicked up over the last few days demonstrates how lame baseball can be when it comes to enforcing rules.

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