Winning By Pinocchio’s Nose

Medina Spirit | 2022 Kentucky Derby & Oaks | May 6 and May 7, 2022

With Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby win now being called into question after traces of the steroid betamethasone were found in his system, it’s clear the sporting world will stop at nothing in pursuit of glory. Trainer Bob Baffert claimed the horse has never been treated with the stuff because most sports figures are just frustrated politicians.

Pete Rose has been telling and re-telling a thirty year lie that changes with each new book deal. Dopers everywhere- from the four major sports to the Olympics- always play it like that guy in the show Cops who insists the drugs aren’t his. College recruiting reads like an episode of Law and Order. Little leaguers pretend to be smaller while college players pretend to be bigger and the Patriots . . . well, yanno.

Back inside the brutally simple time known as the ’70’s, NASCAR driver Richard Petty issued a sporting proclamation that has proven to have more lasting power than his hat . . or his legendary career for that matter.

“If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying,”

Without a twenty-four hour social media dragnet to collect every last dangling participle of an athlete’s most innocuously lonesome thoughts, the checkmate of a raging morning after headline was still a twinkle in every sports voyeur’s eye. Petty’s southern drawl was saved the slings and arrows of our current day claw machine which would have issued the “Breaking News” headline at three in the morning. After which Twitter would’ve split in two like the Titanic, sports debate shows would’ve argued over whether Petty should be suspended and Petty would’ve read a PR crafted apology that was about as heartfelt as a zombie flick.

The thing is, his simple syrup was a sporting truth long before he let it pass go. Need some proof? Okay why not . . .

Fred Lorz's lift and the rat-poison runner – Tale Runners

Fred Lorz lapped the field at the 1904 Olympic marathon in St. Louis by completing the race in three hours and thirteen minutes. Only problem was, he hitched a ride with a passing car for 11 miles of the race. When reading about Lorz, my question was, “There were passing cars in 1904?”

ECC | [New York Giants baseball player John J. McGraw, walking on

Before San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds’ noggin grew to twice the legal limit in the name of bad science, there was John McGraw. The New York Giants third-baseman played the hot corner like a gangster. A middling player who would later make his Hall of Fame bones as a skipper, McGraw was notorious for slowing opposing runners down by whatever means possible; from tripping them to latching on to their belt loops. How much fun would instant replay be with this guy around?

Michael Beschloss on Twitter: "Black Sox Scandal emerged from 1919 World Series, which ended 95 years ago today:"


Several key players on the 1919 Chicago White Sox canoodled with New York mobster Arnold Rothstein, after which they threw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The worst part of it is, the infamous Black Sox scandal kept one of the all-time greats- Shoeless Joe Jackson- from reaching the Hall of Fame after his ban. The second worst part of it is they made a movie about it in 1988 called Eight Men Out in which John Cusack proved he is not nearly as good at throwing a baseball as he is at holding up a boombox.

Dora Ratjen - Wikidata

Dora “The Explorer” Ratjen finished fourth in the women’s high jump at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Turned out, Dora’s real name was Hermann. Those fun loving kids known as the Hitler Youth talked Hermann into hiding his balls in order to compete as a woman. I’m thinking their game plan didn’t include a fourth place finish . . .

From Heroes To Villains': CCNY Basketball's Dramatic Fall From Glory | Only A Game

The 1951 CCNY point-shaving scandal involved seven college basketball teams, with the Beavers squad leading the way. The players involved prevented their clubs from covering the spread until one player refused to play along, after which the jig was up. To think, today’s college coaches- whose cheat sheets are part of the recruiting process- would shrug at this quaint little racket.

The East German women’s swimming team dominated the sport from the late ’60’s through the early ’80’s. Which . . I mean . . it took the IOC that long to figure out these gals were loading up on their carbs by filing them with steroids? Of course it did, because they were even dirtier than the culprits!

Like it or loathe it, as long as there are sports to be played, cheating is going to be a part of the equation. Because the risks are always going to be outweighed by the rewards for a whole lot of athletes who don’t care how they become somebody, just so long as they do. And I don’t much give a shit if they choose notoriety over nobility.

Just leave the horses out of it.


51 thoughts on “Winning By Pinocchio’s Nose

    • I kept it in the rearview since today’s cheaters would fill a summer series of posts. There were several Olympic cheaters who used gender to increase their chances of winning. But Hermann, he couldn’t even get to the podium.

      The dopers are adults who assume the risks, but what I have a problem with is their example. Because kids in high school see this and think to themselves, if they only had a little more weight . . . maybe they could make it in college and then, who knows?

      The horses don’t ask for it.


    • I forgot to ask you about the Smiley no hitter. That’s four in the early season. And now they’re talking about ways to stem this tide, LOL. Yeah, hitters who don’t swing for the fences and instead look to put the ball in play . . that might do it.


  1. B,

    Why am I not surprised that they cheat with the horses. Poor things don’t even have the option to know they’re cheating. Wonder how it affects THEIR bodies?

    And you’re right…if there is a cheat, there is a way. It has gotten rather creative, no?

    If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying because you don’t win second, you lose third. An attitude that has sullied competition forever and a day. I’ve zero doubt the Greeks had a few cheaters back in the day!

    Hitching a ride? There were cars to hitch to? Good gawd, man!

    McGraw – Jesus, how did he get away with THAT?

    And it is a seriously sad state of affairs that Shoeless Joe Jackson was denied Hall of Famedom.

    Ummm… I dunno, but “Dora” – other than that ridiculous hairdo don’t look like no woman to me. LOVE that he came in fourth!

    Don’t get how the basketball one thing happened. And kudos to the one with the cojones to stand his ground.

    The IOC was busy…

    PERFECT song for this post!


    Liked by 2 people

    • Q

      That’s it right there. These creatures are better served just being down on a horse farm somewhere, living their best life. But nope, they become pawns in a game.

      The myriad ways in which an individual can cheat leave the door wide open for the shenanigans.

      I think you’re right. I used to say that baseball should just make steroids mandatory. But of course they knew the problem existed for many,many years. They were just making too much money to do anything about it.

      I was not aware cars were that prevalent in 1904. I would think this guy would’ve stuck out like a sore thumb.

      You’re talking about baseball in another time. Back when Ty Cobb would literally fly into a base with his cleats up so he could gouge an opposing player with them.

      I agree with you. But hey, he did the crime and yanno what Baretta says about that . . .

      Right? I mean, it was epic fail from beginning to end with Dora . .

      There were other point shaving scandals to follow. Basketball seems like easy pickings because of the high scores. A missed shot here and there to fudge the spread can get lost in the stats.

      I remember reading a story about how the IOC used to “award” host cities. It began with briefcases full of cash being left on a coffee table at parties and got more involved from there.

      Gotta love Cher, she was so groovy.


      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s rather horrible.

        If there is a will, there is a way. Cheaters always were and always will be.

        The game is already boring because of all the hard and high hits – made all the more so by the steroids – oh, no, what am I saying… Only a “few”… riiiiight.

        Neither was I! How do you like them apples? I guess they didn’t have people watching the race all the way, eh?

        That is nasty!

        Baretta knows…

        Epic, you say? Good grief, at least give him a slightly padded bra? LOL There was nothing feminine about him. Da hell were they thinking? Never mind. You know, the irony is not lost on me. Given that men are physically stronger, they leap higher and farther than women as a rule so this guy was an even bigger loser!

        I would never have thought you could shave points this way. Goes to show how little I know.

        Sheee-it. Award, my ass…

        She still is!

        Liked by 2 people

        • It’s the reality of competition. Someone is always looking for an edge, after which they justify the means.

          From McGraw to the White Sox to Whitey Ford to Gaylord Perry to the Astros . . baseball has books on the stuff all by its lonesome.

          As I was telling Frank, the sport of baseball is lousy at defining its strengths. And when it is faced with a challenge, the answer is invariably “Ban that!”. To wit, the number of no hitters so far this season has led to people insisting they change the rules to HELP the hitters. WHAT? How about the hitters learn how to PLAY BASEBALL?

          Sort of like Rosie Ruiz at the Boston Marathon . ..

          Baretta always knew.

          Ty Cobb was also the player that went into the stands and beat a heckler almost to death. He was a real charmer.

          Hermann lost not once, but twice. And really, anything that handed it to the Nazis is a good thing. So this was much deserved comeuppance.

          And with pro sports now going all in with gambling sites, well . . they’re just asking for more trouble.


          I know it!

          Liked by 2 people

          • Truth!

            I am not surprised, what with America’s obsession with the game 😉

            No hitters, means the pitchers are way better than the batters. Yeah. How about we work on traiing ALL the parts of the game!

            Oh? I’ll have to look that up.

            He did.

            Oh my. And did he get any punishment at all for doing such a heinous act?

            Absolutely! Any time we can give them the heave-ho, is good with me.

            Pro sports and gambling have always gone hand in hand, no?


            You do!

            Liked by 2 people

          • Ruth!

            America’s obsessions usually lead to some laughable and forgettable shit. It’s great when it’s the former, because yanno . . we can usually do a lot worse than that if we try.

            The pitchers are no better, but the batters are so intent on going yard in each at bat, they never mind the rest of the game. Where once great hitters used to spread the ball around, now too many hitters just want to hit it out of the park.

            She took the subway during the Boston Marathon, then re-entered the race just in time to “win”.

            He was cool. Robert Blake? Not so much.

            Not really. And he was a horrible bigot, which also didn’t get him disciplined since the commissioner of the sport was also . . you guessed it, a bigot.

            The Nazi bashing is the only bashing I’m down with.

            Yeah but up to now, pro sports wasn’t a business partner.



            Liked by 2 people

          • Americans do like to put themselves out there, shall we say.

            That’s what I meant re: the hitters. The pitchers are made to look good by the hitters missing in order to try too hard. Back to learning how to bunt 😉

            Get out! I missed that story! Took the subway! Did she really think no one would notice? Well, obviously…

            Robert Blake lost his itty-bitty amount of cool right quick the second he was off set!

            Of course he didn’t.

            I agree. There was nothing good about Nazis.

            Right. Things were better when they were done underground 😉


            Liked by 2 people

          • The idea of finishing first, at all costs. We do it in sports, war and barbecue. It’s how this country rolls.

            Bunting and sacrificing yourself and hitting the ball the other way and . . . wow, I feel like an ancient artifact as I list all the ways in which baseball was introduced to me once upon a time.

            She put on a jacket, LOL.

            Seriously. It’s almost as if I wish these peeps could just LIVE on the set and remain in character. Forever.

            Of course.

            Except for when they got their asses handed to them.



            Liked by 2 people

          • Yes, you do like to that. And, unfortunately, you often succeed!

            You mean back when it was interesting and fun to watch!


            Yeah. Some would be much better off to keep on playing their role.


            Took longer than I would have liked but they did get it.

            Funny how there was more order when these things did remain there.


            Liked by 2 people

  2. And the players that do play with honour and integrity are pushed aside for the juicier scandals. We should be rewarding the good guys and truly punishing the bad guys. Strange world we live in.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Richard Petty’s comment is why I don’t get too incredibly upset about this stuff. When the Astros were caught cheating a couple of years ago, I went around and around with a couple of friends about this. These friends were furious and thought the team should have been blown up … or something like that.

    I agreed that they should be disciplined for it, but the outrage was completely ridiculous. As I said at the time, and to paraphrase Mr. Petty … every team and every player tries to cheat. Some in small ways, some in big ways … but they are all trying to figure out how to bend the rules and cross the line to get an advantage. To be outraged when one team gets caught and we all know the other teams are trying to do underhanded things but they just haven’t been caught, just seems to be misplaced outrage.

    Although with the Patriots, I am kind of outraged … but that outrage is in part due to the utter toothlessness of the consequences the NFL imposed on them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Astros were simply following the same game plan as a slew of others that came before them. I could have been pissed about it because my Yanks came out on the short end of that cheating stick twice, but how does that change what happened?

      And remember, other teams were found out after the Astros cheating ways came to light. The Red Sox fired their manager- for a season. Even MY team was rumored to have pulled a few strings in the name of gaining an advantage.

      With the NFL . . where to start? Usually at the bottom . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You make great points, Marc. I remember watching a Jai lai match in Florida. Points, bets, and cheats. All part of the fun. Having been in the competitive Grand Prix Jumping game with my daughter as a rider, I can tell you most horses entering any competition get a little help from “Mother’s little helpers.” It’s the getting caught part that most people frown upon. Good post.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I forgot to mention. I insisted that our trainer not use any illegal drugs. Winning to me was secondary to the development of the child and the safety of the horse. We still got a ton of blue ribbons.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Shivering, listening to Cher! Brrrr…..
    Perfect song to wind up this post.
    As you know, I am not a big sports person, but I am loathsome about all of this past and present cheating. Perhaps this is why I am not a big sports person. I just don’t believe it.
    It all seems like wrestling: choreographed, rehearsed and finally staged for consumption.

    Guess I’m just an old fashioned gal. Dopers were the ones using heroin and cocaine. The rest of us normal ones only used pot, hash, LSD, mescaline, Psilocybin mushrooms, cigarettes and alcohol.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. OH…. and if no one could tell Dora was a man, then all I can say is HELLO!!!!!!!!
    and leave the horses out of it!!!!!! Bastards!
    And to think my family had me dating a jockey, just so they could get tips makes me sick.
    Although, he did take out the compressed garbage when he left.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hate cheating. In sports, or in any aspect of life. Maybe most especially in politics (but that’s being redundant).

    Except: when my dog Conall “cheats” by cutting a switchback on a trail. That’s just smart, from an animal point of view. (I always follow the trail, just so you know.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, politics is the sport where one side cheats and then cries foul when the other side wins . . claiming that . . yeah, they cheated!

      That’s not cheating. That’s strategizing. Conall knows those trails like the back of his paw. And I’d follow it too. 🙂


  9. When I heard the story about Bob Baffert’s Medina Spirit, all I could think was ‘hmm…he’s a lot like the Bill Belichick of horse racing who’ll do anything to win.’ And it’s not the first time he’s been caught cheating. Yet another black stain on the sport of kings has left me very sad and crestfallen.👿

    Liked by 1 person

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