Ted Lilly's Cheatin' Foot
Watching some daytime MLB. Camera just zoomed in & didn't realize it caught a pitcher cheating. Don't ask me who/what. Tricks of the trade.
Bill Shaikin's story in the LA Times explains what caught the attention of Nitkowski and the Dodgers' Casey Blake, who had singled and was standing on first base.
Blake accused Ted Lilly of cheating...trying unsuccessfully to persuade the umpires that the Chicago Cubs pitcher should have been cited for starting his windup on some pitches from in front of the rubber. "I know he doesn't have an overpowering fastball," Blake said. "I know he's trying to get as much of an edge as he can. But he moved in. That's cheating. You've got to stay on the rubber."
Ken Gurnick of mlb.com explains how first-base umpire John Hirschbeck received Blake's accusation.
Hirschbeck said he "couldn't tell" if Lilly was in contact with the rubber, but couldn't leave his position to get a better look. "It's a hard thing to see and you've got to know for sure [to issue a warning]," Hirschbeck said.
Eventually, Blake got pretty fired up, Dodgers first-base coach Mariano Duncan had to intervene, and...well, I'll let Rob Neyer describe the rest and offer his own moral to the story:
Duncan gets between Blake and Hirschbeck, and eventually Joe Torre saunters out for a bit of mid-afternoon entertainment... Torre didn't belabor the point, Reed Johnson made out on the next pitch, and Lilly cruised through the seventh inning. This is a small thing. Pitchers have been cheating in exactly this way since pitching rubbers were first installed, I'm absolutely sure. But you may, if you like, apportion extra credit this afternoon to Casey Blake, to C.J. Nitkowski, and to the InterWeb.
Oh, yeah—the Cubs wound up winning the game, 1-0, thus chalking up their second shutout in three days against what was the hottest team in Major League Baseball since May 1st.
(See the beginning of the fun for yourself, right here.)