A.J. Pierzynski was up to his usual tricks again on Sunday. While caught in a rundown in the 10th inning, A.J. Pierzynski purposely threw his elbow out at Willy Aybar in order to make contact with the infielder. By rule, if a runner makes contact with a infielder who does not have the ball, interference is called against the infielder. A.J. Pierzynski clearly went out of his way to make contact with Aybar, but Aybar was called for the interference. A.J. was given 3rd base, and eventually scored on an Alexei Ramirez single to come from behind and beat the Tampa Bay Rays.

But how do we know that A.J. purposely swung his elbow at Aybar?

He said so himself:

Pierzynski was asked if he knew the interference rule, which calls for the runner to be awarded a base if he bumps an infielder without the ball. Aybar didn’t have the ball.

“That was the first thing I thought of, to get somebody to get close enough to where I could touch them,” Pierzynski said. “People go, ‘How do you think of that that fast?’ Well, if you’re not fast [afoot], you have to think of a lot of things to try to get you out of bad baserunning.”

Pierzynski is famous for this play, where after striking out vs. the Angels in the ’05 ALCS, he just took off for first base. While thousands of replays never gave us a 100% answer on whether Josh Paul caught the ball or not, the entire Angels team believed he did and jogged off the field as that had ended the inning. Pierzynski took first & changed the entire game & the entire series. Pierzynski would also get away with a blatant catcher’s interference of Steve Finley’s bat in that series.

The umpire in ’05: Doug Eddings
The umpire yesterday: Doug Eddings
The bench coach for the Angels in ’05: Joe Maddon
The manager for the Rays yesterday: Joe Maddon

All this begs the question, among all the great cheaters in baseball history (Niekro, Cobb, Bonds, etc.), is A.J. Pierzynski the best out of all of them? With the way he’s able to bend rules of the game, is he the best ever?