As big as NASCAR likes to claim it is, it isn’t exactly a bastion of integrity. In a sport that thrives on family-friendly appeal, it’s not shocking that there’s a history of cheating in NASCAR—even beyond the more familiar cheating involving illegal equipment.
In this podcast, Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks about the topic of cheating in NASCAR and baseball. He also talks about who he would include in his own Hall of Fame and why baseball on the whole needs to take a look at its own cheaters.
There is no doubt about the fact that the two sports of racing and baseball are different, but there are still a few parallels. Both are sports that have a litany of rules and regulations that are supposed to keep things fair and balanced, but there is only the most minimal of enforcement when it comes to those rules. In the case of the baseball players who have been accused of using performance enhancing drugs in a recent time, they are each facing a potential suspension and a fine from the league, while the NASCAR drivers who are suspected of using performance enhancing drugs in a similar situation are only facing an indefinite suspension and are not being investigated by the league.
Cheating exists in all sports. Chipper Jones, former player of the Atlanta Braves and member of the MLB Hall of Fame, was the surprise guest on the Dale Jr Download Dale Earnhardt Jr. podcast this week, and the topic of conversation was cheating in sports. This happens in NASCAR and has recently become a hot topic in baseball.
Major League Baseball recently went through an infamous period where umpires regularly tested pitchers for banned substances. New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole found himself in a difficult situation in early June when a reporter asked him if he used Spider Tack. A confused Cole said he didn’t know how to answer the question.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Chipper Jones talk about baseball and the recent cheating problems in the MLB
Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame member Chipper Jones throws out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the National League Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on July 7. October 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Photo: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
While Earnhardt Jr. didn’t go into detail about NASCAR’s cheating, he did say that 99 percent of the guests on his podcast are usually NASCAR drivers. He told Jones that innovation is always being discussed behind the scenes.
Ninety-nine percent of the time the drivers are in this room and we’re talking about innovation, said Earnhardt Jr, who sits across from Jones on the Dale Jr Download podcast. Some call it cheating, but we call it innovation. These guys tell us interesting stories about what they did with their race cars. There is a lot of talk and discussion in baseball, especially now, about what guys do to get an edge.
Jones, who played in the MLB during the steroid era, focused on today’s game, particularly what happens to pitchers and spin.
There are two substances that are allowed in baseball, Jones said. Resin. You see a bag of resin behind the hill and you have pine resin. Pine resin can only be used by haters. For rackets, either resin or pine resin can be used. Put pine resin on the beater, smear it with resin to give it substance, then hit the pine resin again.
Pitchers are only allowed to use resin, which I have never understood. I think we can get everything under control if Major League Baseball allows pitchers to use a small amount of pine tar for traction.
In recent months, the MLB has taken action against pitchers who use foreign substances. Many pitchers find that resin is not enough to give the ball grip on hot summer days. Some pitchers go beyond lifting and experiment with Spider Tack, a sticky substance that suppresses MLB. The reporter asked Cole if he used it. Cole struggled to answer.
I don’t know if… I don’t know how to answer that question, to be honest, Cole said.
Jones handled the Spider Tack.
The material they’re talking about now is called Spider Tack, he told Earnhardt Jr. You can literally rub two fingers with it, lift the little ball and let it hang from both fingers. It’s so sticky. I’ve never applied it to my fingers. I needed a knife to scrape them off my fingers.
This is a substance that Major League Baseball believes should be restricted immediately. The fact that they did it in the middle of the season and not at the beginning was a bit odd.
At the time Jones played, Spider Tack was not yet in circulation, but there were always other ways to gain an advantage. Performance-enhancing drugs were popular in Jones’ day, but he didn’t mention them in the interview. He said Sammy Sosa was caught when his bat exploded and blew plugs all over the field.
Sammy Sosa was caught touching his bat, he said. Simply drill a hole in the top of the wick and insert the plug. You have a 35 inch bat that probably weighs 33 oz. This is the big bat in today’s game. If you hollow out the middle and put in cork, cork is a lighter substance than wood. Now a 33 oz bat becomes a 31 and a half or 32 oz. More typing speed.
Earnhardt Jr. asked who put the bat in the box?
Oh, you have to do it yourself, Jones said. There’s no kind of cap. I’ve never met a corked man.
COMPARED TO: Does Dale Earnhardt Jr. deserve a place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame?
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