Thursday, January 10, 2013

If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying

Mark Grace is credited with the Yogi Berraish quote, "If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying."

This quote stuck in my head.... Why? The other day I was randomly thinking about this. Here's a fulcrum problem.  

Let's say you're in school taking a multiple choice bubble test. You're at the end of the test and you have your answer to the last bubble question but as you're on your way to answer the question - pencil in motion - the buzzer sounds. Do you fill in the blank in the next split second or do you put your pencil down?

I think you should fill in the blank. Technically that's cheating but in this case cheating may be your best option.

If you're the test grader would you rather see a student "cheating" for the last answer or not answering it?

As a grader, if you had perfect observation, I think you'd rather see the student cheat on that last hand in motion question. Why? Because it tells you the student knew the answer - or at least thought she knew the answer. It provides you with extra information about the student's knowledge. It's a two way street... If you're the student and you know you're under perfect observation you must answer the question if you know the answer - it shows effort and provides information to the grader. If you put down your pencil it shows nothing - no information. Even under perfect observation you have to try even though you know it shows you're cheating - you have to show that you almost had the answer in time. It's basic game strategy. Mark Grace was and is right.


  1. I must respectfully disagree with your argument.

    But first, can someone explain to me why this quote is so damn clever? It has become an accepted and seemingly amusing part of baseball's culture, and I cannot figure out why for the life of me. It's quite embarrassing if I must say so myself...Thankfully, not too many kids are watching these grown men stand around and stretch for three hours, so most won't witness the destruction of what sports are supposed to be: a metaphor for life and a place where honor and brotherhood unite to create something magical. Oh...wait. It's the MLB...

    But the kids don't know that yet...To hell with it, maybe they do. But I AM OFFENDED by it. We all should be. It's spit in our faces.

    And, for you to try and compare this despicably pre-meditated offense to a student finishing an exam is not only lazy but irresponsible. I have been in countless tests from grade-school to college, and there is always a small window of time in "no man's land" to get the exam in or be picked up. Depending on the teacher, you may be able to calmly continue or finish bubbling for minutes upon minutes.

    Now, had the student made use of a cheat-sheet during the exam then maybe there'd be a discussion to be had... Although, I would have to argue that baseball players still owe their fans, sponsors and teammates the honor and respect to not risk the disappointment and backlash of such an act. The truth is, a student in a classroom is cheating by THEMSELVES and risking their entire future alone. They are putting their ass on the line, and I couldn't care less about it. These baseball players are on a team and have kids looking up to them and paying to wear their jerseys...There are so many more factors to consider, but I think I made my point.

    If you ain't cheatin', you ain't playin' baseball.

  2. Try to find something more important to be OFFENDED about. This is a post about game theory. The idea here is that cheating shows more intelligence than not cheating under certain circumstances. While the baseball quote is a sideshow to the main point you should note that cheating in baseball is not always premeditated. Ever see a runner sliding into second try to take out the second baseman? If you aren't pushing the envelope you aren't trying. To me, that's what Grace was saying... Hell... look how much cheating homefield advantage inserts into the game. Would you have the MLB standardize the park layouts to eliminate leverage? Would you have soccor eliminate the dive? We should celebrate the leading edge of cheating.