Now stud writer and MLB Network talking head Tom Verducci doesn’t have a problem with a little pine tar or BullFrog/rosin combo on a baseball for a little grip. You know, so a pitcher doesn’t uncork a fastball off a batter’s head during a cold October World Series game, like Wednesday night when it appeared Jon Lester was putting something on the ball.
The game conditions at first pitch were: 50 degrees, cloudy, 5 mph wind
Yahoo’s Jeff Passan says it was the now infamous BullFrog/rosin combo that Lester used to grip. How he knows that’s exactly what it was is still unclear. Maybe it was Vaseline with pine tar. Maybe it was Vaseline with a little dirt. Passan says this is a non-controversy because “everyone is doing it.”
That brings me back to what Verducci said this afternoon.
Verducci on MLB Network: “This time of year, especially when it’s colder and the balls are slicker, pitchers need something on their fingers to throw the baseball without putting hitters at risk.”
And Tom didn’t seem to have a big problem with the practice UNLESS the ball started doing funny things. Lester’s game didn’t raise red flags with the mainstream media so everything was cool. The ball didn’t dance. He was just on.
Now let’s go back to 2006 when Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers was in the middle of a pine tar incident during a World Series game against the Cardinals. Rogers was masterful, pitching 8 innings of 2-hit baseball and a win. The weather that night in Detroit at first pitch was: 44° F, Wind 18mph in unknown direction, Rain.
Rogers pitched one inning with gunk, goop, pine tar mixed with rosin or something similar on his hand. Fox cameras caught a shot of Rogers’ dirty hand in the first inning. The guy pitched ONE INNING. Umps made him clean his hand and he went on to pitch seven scoreless innings.
Tom Verducci destroyed Kenny Rogers.
I’m still deeply disappointed for the sport over what happened in Game 2, and saddened that people in the game are not. The entire world saw Rogers using what appeared to be a foreign substance on his pitching hand and he incurred no penalty, not even an inspection by the umpires of the offending hand we saw on TV. It was worse for the sport than if Rogers, like Jay Howell in the 1988 NLCS, was examined, ejected and suspended. At least in that case there was enforcement of the rule book. This was just another example of the perverse culture in the game, this twisted code of “honor” among the scoundrels and cheats in baseball in which the act of calling somebody out for cheating is deemed worse than the cheating itself.
I get a kick out of the “everybody is doing it” defense, as if that makes it right. Or, to translate baseball-speak, there is the “he wasn’t cheating the right way” explanation. Or the “Hey, he pitched the next seven innings without it” logic, which is so blatantly ignorant of the decision Rogers made at the start of the game and naive to the possibility that Rogers simply became more discreet from the second inning on.
He is just another scoundrel. He is a baseball player, which means getting away with as much as you can, rules and ethics be damned.
It’s good to see Tom has had a change of heart after all these years. While he used to be against pitchers getting grip on a baseball during a cold World Series game, he’s now all for it because you don’t want pitchers hitting batters in the head.
Good one, Tom.