The hidden ball trick has gone to the ultimate level.
When New York Yankee outfielder Dewayne Wise did not catch the ball after going over the short wall in an effort, the umpire Mike DiMuro ruled it was a fair catch.
The Wise guy faked the notion that the ball was in his glove and quickly trotted off the field, having ended the inning. It was Yankee chutzpah at its most Bronx cheering best.
Alas, a fan had the ball, not Mr. Wise guy.
The umpire, to his chagrin, threw anyone out of the game who questioned his acumen. He should have ejected the fan that held up the ball, making MLB look like Major League Blunders.
Of course, such cheating has always had a warm spot in the hearts of fans. To wit: the notorious hidden ball trick occurs when the first baseman fakes a throw back to the pitcher after a pickoff attempt.
The unsuspecting base runner takes a step off the bag-is tagged and called out. No one cries, "foul," or "time out." The umpire is in on the double dealing in this case.
The Yankees have brought it to a new level when the trick is played on the umpires themselves. In an age when contempt of Congress wins you an acquittal in a courtroom, or wins you votes if you are Attorney General of the United States, the hidden ball seems like fair play at its core.
Put that pine tar on your glove, and spit on that old cowhide ball. Spike that shortstop in your slide into second base. Steal first, second, third and home. Fake that you are hit by the pitch, or pretend you actually tagged that runner.
Cheating in baseball is as American as apple pie and nearly as delicious.