TOP OF THE TOWN – It is human nature to find ways around rules, regulations and laws. That’s a fact of life. If there is a loophole, it will be found and exploited for gain. That’s just the way it is. Athletes take performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) even though it’s illegal in sports, both by rule and morally. Lance Armstrong is a prime example of that. He was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles when it was finally proved he took PEDs. In baseball, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clements among others have been accused of drug-taking for personal gain. Pete Rose has been banned from baseball and from making Cooperstown because he gambled on games, a no-no in the sport. One of baseball’s all-time greats Shoeless Joe Jackson was accused of associating with the players that allegedly fixed the 1919 World Series, resulting in the Chicago White Sox losing to the Cincinnati Reds. The players were acquitted in a 1921 trial but first-time baseball commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned all the players from baseball and from baseball honors, including induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. So, yes, the evidence is sufficient and impressive that laws are meant to be broken, and humans will find a way to break them. In 1951, the New York Giants won a special three-game playoff against the Brooklyn Dodgers when in the third and deciding game Bobby Thomson hit a three-run home run that is known as the Shot Heard Around the World off reliever Ralph Branca in the ninth inning for a walk-off 5-4 victory that sent the Giants to the World Series. It was the first nationally televised baseball game and was seen by millions, and was also aired on Armed Forces Radio to combat soldiers fighting in the Korean Conflict, so it was a big deal and is also often referred to as The Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff, which was first coined by legendary sports writer Red Smith. But there always has been suspicion about how the home run came about. The Giants were rumored to have had a sign-stealing system that revolved around a player (Hank Schenz) and coach (Herman Franks) manning a telescope from center field to steal the signs of opposing catchers that were then relayed to the Giants by telephone in the dugout and bullpen. Thomson always denied paying attention to the sign-stealing and Blanca later said that even if Thomson knew what was coming he still had to hit it. The point is, however, that if there is a loophole, humans will find it and exploit it. Major League baseball outlawed sign-stealing in 1961, but as we know now by what the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox apparently have done that has not stopped the cheating. My guess is that this latest problem of sign-stealing that has cost Houston GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch a one-year suspension from baseball and their jobs and Alex Cora his job as Boston manager as he waits for his punishment from baseball commissioner Rob Manfred for his role in this latest mess that this will not be the last time we hear of something like this in the sport. We are all humans and no matter what restrictions we put on ourselves we will always seek a competitive edge, and that means getting around the law or breaking it. That is why pro football is having such a tough time deciding infractions like pass interference, illegal hits and blocks without having to go to extensive reviews of plays. Players will still push the envelope looking for that edge they can exploit, and lawmakers will continue to try to plug any loophole players find. It’s a cat and mouse game and sometimes the cat wins and sometimes the mouse prevails. But the game will always be played. And sign-stealing in baseball will continue. It’s part of the sport and they can try to outlaw all of it, but the outlaws will keep trying. It’s human nature.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.