What Is Spider Tack & Is It Ruining Major League Baseball?
I've been watching, enjoying, and loving Major League Baseball for well over 50 years. That brings me back to my beloved Minnesota Twins and the likes of Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Bob Allison, and Jim Kaat.
How many games have I watched? Countless and that number continues to grow. How many games have I attended? A handful and loved each and every one. My greatest baseball memory? Too many to count, but that first time to a Twins game at the old Met when I was a kid would be right up there. And meeting my baseball hero, Harmon Killebrew, several years ago here in Sioux Falls when the Twins were here on their annual Winter Caravan would be right there, too.
Yep, over that past half-century plus I've seen and heard it all.
Except I guess I hadn't.
Cheating has been a tradition in baseball for as long as the game has been around. And some of that cheating has an almost honorable status. 'Gaining an edge' it's called with a wink and a smile. The 'ol spitball was legal for a lot of early years, and then they outlawed it. But it, of course, didn't just go away. When asked, a pitcher would chuckle and say something like 'Aw, of course not, I don't use it'...ahem.
Then there are those illegal things that aren't quite so humorous. Ask a hardcore baseball fan about the Black Sox. Ugly. Betting? Seems to be an acceptable word now, but it's not funny when used in the context of Pete Rose. And steroids? Let's not even start.
And now something new, at least to this five-decade-plus baseball lover.
Spider Tack. Spider what??
Apparently, it's the newest and best baseball cheating phrase. Being the baseball fan I am, I decided to do some exhausting heavy-duty research into this new (to me) illegal game-altering...thing. Yeah, I googled it.
Getting right to the source, SpiderTack.com, it turns out it is something these super heavy weight lifters use to, well, hang on to the weight. You know, the big dude that's lifting up a boulder? Yeah, he uses it so the boulder won't slip and fall on his foot. Not a bad idea.
A Major League pitcher using it on the mound? Bad idea.
When a Yankee pitcher was asked about it, he got that deer-in-the-headlights look, hemmed and hawed, and mumbled something about how older players pass along baseball traditions to younger players and never did answer the question. Apparently, it improves how a baseball acts when pitched, things like spin-rate, and more. Bottom line: It makes the pitcher tougher and better than maybe he actually is. It makes his analytics better.
Analytics. Ugh. Do analytics make the game more perfect? Maybe. Do they make the game more fun, more exciting? No. Wins don't matter anymore. RBI and batting average? A thing of the past. Now it's all about BABIP, BBr, BB9/W_IP, DRA, DRS, FIP, FRAA, and ISO. Not familiar with those things? Me either. And don't care. If a hitter is batting .300 with a hundred RBI, I want him. If a pitcher wins 20 games with an era around 3, I want him. Spin Rate? Whatever.
So will this Spider Tack be fun, humorous 'gaining an edge' cheating? Or will Spider Tack take its place upon the shelf with the Black Sox and steroids? We should be finding out in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, pass me a box of Cracker Jack and Go Twins!
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