So your saying that it isn't cheating when players use performance enhancing drugs, since they're not illegal yet. IMO, this argument is absurd. If Ruth used a corked bat (which I doubt he did), then he did use a form of cheating. He was able to gain an unfair advantage over other players. Maybe it's not even about cheating or not. It's about right and wrong, and what Ruth did (if he did it) was wrong, and he knew it.
Nomar4prez, I don't really get your position here. Here's the relevant webster's definition of cheating: To violate rules deliberately, as in a game.
So, yes, if performance enhancing drugs aren't against baseball rules, it wouldn't be cheating. Since they are against baseball rules, though, it's cheating.
Now, on to Ruth. If Ruth used a corked bat, and it wasn't against the rules, it's not cheating, it's gamesmanship. Back when Ruth played, the spitball wasn't illegal either. Are all of those pitchers cheaters? No! They did whatever was within the rules to ensure more success. Especially when you consider that people were fine with spitballs back then, you'd have to give batters the same leeway. So even if Ruth used a corked bat every at bat, it wasn't wrong.
There's plenty of other examples of this in other sports. Basketball has a lot of them. They created the 3 second violation because Wilt Chamberlain would just stand in the paint and make it impossible for anyone to get inside. Was he cheating when the rule wasn't there before? No. The difference is that EVERY player could use a corked bat when it wasn't illegal. If only one guy thought of it, that makes him smart, not a cheater.
You can't put the modern rules on players back then. That's just not fair. All you can ask is for players to follow the rules that are in front of them.
This is pretty relevant to fantasy, too. Some owners get mad in head to head weekly leagues when another owner shuffles pitchers to get the two start guys. They call that cheating. How is it cheating if it's a strategy open to everyone? It's gamesmanship. There's a big difference.
Sometimes there are things like using a corked bat that once the strategy is universally discovered, the league decides to make it illegal. After that, it's cheating. Before that, gamesmanship.