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Original Issue

Play Fair!

A book and blog look at baseball cheaters

ONE OF THE greatdebates of last week: Did Alex Rodriguez cheat when he distracted Howie Clarkas the Blue Jays third baseman attempted—in vain—to field a pop fly? (A-Rodmaintains he said, "Hah!" Clark insists he heard, "Mine.")Nowhere was the question more diligently explored than on Derek Zumsteg's blog, Zumsteg—author of a similarly titledbook—specializes in analyzing diamond dodges.

In the A-Rod casehe pointed out that a week earlier a University of Texas base runner had beencalled out for interference after calling off a fielder on a pop fly in a gameagainst Missouri. After some back-and-forth with readers Zumsteg decided that,contrary to what the umpires decided, A-Rod should have been called out too.But he noted, "As long as [the rule is] not enforced—like foreignsubstances on uniforms for pitchers—a runner would be dumb not to takeadvantage."

On his blogZumsteg does not sound like a cop ferreting out injustice; he is more of anamused collector who treasures moments of chicanery. In early May he posted astory about an Arizona high school team that executed the "RainbowPlay." While a fast runner was stealing second, the catcher lobbed arainbow throw to the second baseman; meanwhile, everyone on his bench screamed"pop fly" and pointed to the sky. The base stealer hesitated and wascaught in a rundown between first and second. "They practiced the play justto get that one runner out," Zumsteg wrote. "Sweet stuff."

The Beat

ELISABETH SHUE (Leaving Las Vegas) was so seriousabout soccer as a teenager in the 1970s, she played in a boys' league sincethere was no girls' league in her part of New Jersey. A fictionalized versionof her story is told in the new film Gracie. Produced by Shue and her brotherAndrew (Melrose Place), the movie also deals with her family's attempt to copewith the death of her older brother. "We feel it's a wonderful story thatpeople can learn from," Shue (above right, with star Carly Schroeder) toldthe Chicago Tribune.... Who wouldn't want to watch a TV show in which VanillaIce runs the risk of being gored by a bull? Figuring the answer was"nobody," the Country Music Television network greenlit Celebrity BullRiding Challenge, featuring the rapper, actor Stephen Baldwin and RocketIsmail, among others. The show, hosted by cowboy Ty Murray, debuts on Aug.10.... The Food Network has found the perfect judge for a chocolate bake-off:Chocolate Thunder. On July 17 former NBA center Darryl Dawkins will appear onThe Next Food Network Star, where he'll drop some chocolate knowledge on eightcontestants vying for their own show.