April 11, 2014
A Major League Pitcher's Guide To Doctoring A Baseball (Dirk Hayhurst, 4/11/14)
Posted by Orrin Judd at April 11, 2014 5:30 PMI'm fairly certain, for instance, that last night, the entire world caught Michael Pineda shamelessly loading the ball up with the gunk he was keeping on his pine-fresh palm. Bud Selig didn't send investigators to the scene of the crime, though, nor is there--to the best of my knowledge--a suspension looming on the horizon. The umpires did their best Sergeant Schultz impression, Pineda claimed it was just dirt, and the Red Sox did their part by deeming it all no big deal.Thus, despite Pineda having been caught brown-handed, it was like the whole thing never happened.This shouldn't be any surprise. Advances in broadcast technology have made it so that everyone can see what people on the field always have--pitchers with various foreign substances slathered on their person, compulsively rubbing them all over the ball. Even with instant replay, additional eye-in-the-sky umpires, and HD cameras, though, these mysterious substances go completely ignored. When someone like Pineda cheats so obviously that it has to be acknowledged, it's discussed in terms of a ludicrously weak explanation that all players seem to accept: Loading the ball is not about cheating; it's about getting a grip.Since it seems like everyone could stand to get a grip on this form of cheating in the majors, let's talk some of the ways pitchers go about getting one. This is a strange thing, existing in a sort of no-man's land. It's not really illegal, since no one gets called out for openly doing it, and yet it's not quite legal, given that no pitcher would ever just waltz out to the mound and set a towel full of pine tar down next to the rosin bag. Pitchers having to act like this is something they could get in trouble for leads to all sorts of chicanery, which at times reaches the level of fine art. To discuss it, we have to know how it's done.Since it's a popular topic right now, we'll start with pine tar.