Spit-Take!

tazawa2
I really don’t think there’s a whole lot to make of this “the Red Sox are totally cheating, you guys” thing, especially for anyone who took seriously– or found completely fucking laughable– the accusations about Jose Bautista or the Man In White that have been levied against the Jays in recent years.

The biggest takeaway, for me, is that Jack Morris, wary as I was of his arrival on the Jays’ broadcasting scene, is kind of super fucking awesome.

Truth be told, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with Morris behind the mic this year, but this? This takes it to a whole other level.

From Gordon Edes’ piece at ESPN Boston:

Asked if he believed the action of Buchholz’s pitches suggested he was throwing a spitter, Morris said, “What do you think? Look at the pitches. Fastball at 94 that goes like that,” Morris said, his hand darting swiftly down and away. “On a fastball?

“He’s not the first guy to ever do it? You can get away with it. Gaylord [Perry] made a nice career out of it.”

Perry is in the Hall of Fame.

Asked if he has seen any other current pitchers throw a spitball, Morris said he hasn’t.

“But I’ll be looking,” he said. “I’ll be looking. You warn all your boys I’ll be looking.”

Morris said he shared his suspicions with Red Sox catchers David Ross, who caught Buchholz on Wednesday, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia before Thursday’s game.

“I went up to Salty and I told him,” Morris said. “He said, ‘It’s dry in Boston, and I’ve seen him put water all over his pants.’ I said, ‘Salty this isn’t my first [expletive] rodeo.’ He didn’t know what to say to that, so we ended the conversation right there.”

Bahahahahahahaha! That. Is. Fucking. Awesome.

The Edes piece says that Morris approached John Farrell about the accusations, too.

That was back on Wednesday night, and last night the “scandal” reared its ugly head again, as Toronto broadcasters noted a sheen on the arm of Junichi Tazawa.

“”Well, it looks to me like he’s got a little something on his forearm, also,” Morris said during the telecast, according to a piece from Chris Toman of MLB.com. “I don’t know as though that’s anything in the slippery point. It might be some tacky stuff to get a feel, but it’s obvious that he has gone to his forearm, too. Who knows? That might just be deception, too. A lot of time you have perspiration you’re going to go to that just to mess with hitters.”

Cue sniping!

Mike Wilner pointed out Tazawa’s shine, and didn’t take kindly to Peter Abraham’s trolling:

Abraham finds his own laughable conspiracy in it– but at least has one thing absolutely fucking bang on:

Richard Griffin fires shots…

But surely not at the legendary Peter Gammons (Peter Gammons… Peter Gammons… GAAAAAAAMONS…  GAAAAAAMONS… PETER PETER!)

And of course, we have what Dennis Eckersley said, calling Morris clueless in an appearance on NESN (Transcription via WEEI.com):

“I was upset during the game when we found out what was happening with Jack Morris, and the more I saw it, the more I started thinking about it, it made me more and more angry about Jack Morris. To me, that’s clueless on his part,” Eckersley said on NESN. “If he knew anything about Buchholz, he knows how nasty he is. His ball doesn’t dance all over the place. The guy paints. He’s got nasty stuff. [Morris] should know that, and he’s gotten carried away. It becomes about Jack Morris almost.

“Where’s Jack Morris been all these years, anyway?” Eckersley continued. “He finally gets a job up there in Toronto and he has to make statements like that and take away from what this kid has done? I think it’s wrong. He’s pitched long enough to know. Guys, you talk about stick-’em, whatever that is, pine tar. He knows that you go to something if you’re sweaty just to get a grip. It’s all about a grip. You saw the comment — that guy [Hayhurst] backed off a little bit, saying maybe it’s rosin, maybe it’s this, but if you just watch the game, you know: the ball disappears on you.

“When you throw a spitball, the ball falls off the table, and you know it right away. The hitters didn’t complain, but Jack Morris is. I think Jack Morris should zip it,” Eckersley added. “I feel sorry for Buchholz to even have to deal with this. I’m styling here, and you’re taking away from me, a guy that can’t even make it to the Hall of Fame yet, and he’s chirping over there — zip it.”

Like just about every insufferable thing in this, there’s right and wrong in what Eckersley is saying. The Hall Of Fame dick-measuring is hilariously meaningless– as we discussed in… er… length on today’s Getting Blanked Podcast– and it’s similarly hilarious for Eckersley to be calling Morris clueless about Buchholz while asking where he had been, not knowing that he had been doing Twins games for the last few years.

That said, by his actions it kind of has been made about Morris in a way, which I’m entirely for. One, because it turns out– again– that Jack is kinda fucking awesome. And two, because Eckersley is pretty much right about the kind of pitcher Buchholz is.

Yes, there appeared to be something on his arm, and on the bottom of the sleeve of his undershirt on Wednesday night– as we can see in this image:

buchholz

And no, as we can see in this picture from one batter later (via @KennedyMLB), it didn’t appear to be consistent with what was happening on his other side:

buchholzdry

But the Sox are saying it’s water, rosin, sweat, or something, at the very least, entirely legal. Maybe it’s not, but Matthew Kory of Baseball Prospectus has it right:

I know– from damn experience– that we’d all be pushing back with as much force as possible if someone was making these sorts of allegations about our own players based on less-than-airtight evidence. Especially when– sorry, Jays fans–  they simply don’t make a lot of sense.

Marc Normandin of Over The Monster sums it up:

Honestly, if Hayhurst and Morris think that Buchholz needs to cheat to get movement on his pitches, then they haven’t been watching Clay Buchholz over the years. He’s always had the stuff and the movement, he just hasn’t always had the same command of it he’s shown to start 2013 – and enhanced command doesn’t necessarily paint a picture of a baseball doctored to get more movement on it. Hell, if you look at PITCHf/x numbers, Buchholz actually has less horizontal movement on his two fastballs right now than he has had in his career as a whole.

The first link he points to in the paragraph above is from Jack Moore at FanGraphs, who sees the difference in the 2013 version of Buchholz and last year’s– and it isn’t something you’d attribute to the kind of extra crazy breaking movement that Normandin has already pointed out doesn’t appear to exist.

So what’s new? Via last night’s Blue Jays broadcast, Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said Buchholz’s biggest difference is improved fastball command. And indeed, the numbers (via BrooksBaseball.net) bear this out: Buchholz has thrown his four-seam fastball for a called strike 27.5 percent of the time this year after just 22.8 percent in 2012. Conversely, the pitch has seen a similar drop in in-play rate. Considering Buchholz has allowed a .537 slugging on contact on the pitch for his career — the worst by over 100 points for any pitch he still throws — the fewer four-seam fastballs put in play the better.

By keeping the fastballs on the corners, something he did proficiently Wednesday night, he’ll turn what used to be balls in play into called strikes or foul balls. He has thrown the fastball for a strike but not in play 51.8 percent of the time this year, six points higher than last season. And, with 160 four-seam fastballs thrown already this season, this difference is already statistically significant (in a 90 percent confidence interval, to be specific).

Maybe I’m wrong, but, like Marc, I don’t quite see how more movement on pitches from a guy who already had trouble commanding nasty stuff would lead to those outcomes. And I especially don’t see how there’s enough there to, as Kory says, slander a guy’s name for it. We sure wouldn’t stand for it around here, right? The Jays themselves haven’t been willing to do it– I think understandably, given the codes that govern that sort of conduct. But hey, at least it gives us something to talk about besides how fucking shitty they’ve played this year, right?

Comments (87)

  1. Why would you need to cheat to baffle Jays hitters?

  2. Every Jays pitcher who does anything remotely near the line of cheating is now cursing Morris/Hayhurst.

    • Looking at how shitty our pitching has been, I’d wager that none of them have done anything.

      • i shit on a frisbee once, didnt try to throw it, maybe the jays pitchers need to throw frisbees with shit on them…..i should be pitching coach

  3. Tom Verducci’s article is nails.

    • Yeah for sure, and it coming from a ‘neutral’ writer helps I suppose

    • That article is pretty awesome even if it is written by Verduci.

    • Did Stoeten even watch the video? He goes to Fangraphs to determine horizontal movement but doesn’t bother to wonder why one of his arms is white and glistening profusely while the other is bonedry? Luckily Verducci actually did some useful research apparently

  4. Fuck the Boston media, and the Red Sox and that Used Car Salesman-sounding Farrell.

    The Sox will tank and they will not make the playoffs.

  5. Sounds like Newman and Kramer should have an opinion on this

  6. Morris has pleasantly surprised me too. He’s not very smooth, but way better than I expected. I like Hayhurst too.

  7. There is nothing in sports that I hate more than the Red Sox and their fans (and basically the city of Boston). I’d sooner want the Yankees to win another 20 titles than Boston ever winning another.

    • Agreed. Some how NY winning is more appealing than Boston. I think it has to do with the attitude in Boston. They are losers for 80 plus years and then all of a sudden act like they are equal with NY? I don’t think so. There is no rivalry there. NY dominates.

      ts not like Dodgers-Giants where there is close to parity. The teams have almost the same amount of WS championships and there record against each other is around 500.

      Since the Jays inception to this point the Jays and Boston have won the exact same number of World Series. That seems more equal to me.

      In other words FUCK BOSTON!

  8. This is almost (but not quite) as stupid as the man in white shit. They may have something there, but leave it to the team to complain and the umpires/league to act.

    • its not nearly as stupid, it’s possible Clay was in infact using something illegal or semi legal on his arm whereas the man in white was obviously wrong from the beginning

  9. Effective pitching involves movement even more than speed.
    Bucholz would be more apt to throw in the strike zone IF he had the abillty to produce more movement.
    There’s a reason why a guy throwing 88 can be more effective than a guy throwing 97.
    Why do you think the knuckball is effective? Movement.
    Grip, finger pressure,type of pitch,etc. all have an effect on movement.
    Talk to any batter. They’d rather face a 97 MPH FLAT fastball than an 88 MPH with a ton of movement.

  10. Agreed with everything you’ve said here. Not enough evidence to tear Buchholz a new one. Seems like people are trying to make a lot out of very little and trying to take their minds off the fact that the Jays are blowing it this season, thus far.

  11. When your team is fucking playing as shitty as the Jays are right now… it just looks like a bunch of pathetic, sore losers whining.

    • fuckin rights, quit bitchin with your lips, be a man, get a case of beer and drink your worries away!!!! like that time i woke up in someones garden…all my problems was gone

  12. I kind of feel like this is a similar situation to the whole “Man in White” debacle, except this time there is clear photographic and video evidence of something taking place. Every explanation from Red Sox camp so far doesn’t line up.

  13. I’ve listened to Morris a handful of times and have tried to like him but just can’t. I find he talks too slow (almost like laboured talking) and some of the stuff he says just makes no sense.

    Also I feel some of the comments he makes about pitchers and the game and done in a way that he’s making a case for himself to be in the HoF (he’s mentioned a few times how it doesn’t matter what the score is, a pitchers win is a pitchers win).

  14. Ya, it’s cool he took this matter to Salty’s stupid face, but really? There’s no excusing how sh*tty the Jays have been playing, cheating pitchers or not. So this just makes us look like the b*tch Yankees when they were so butt-hurt by ONE brutal ass-slaying by the Jays that they contrived their infowars-esque “Man in White” conspiracy. Just shut up.

    • I don’t recall anyone making excuses for why the Jays are shitty. They are shitty. There is also this other stuff going on.
      Or did I miss something?

    • If we can’t win, let’s at least try to ruin for Boston.

    • I like the way Hayhurst has been covering this. His blog post is great. He calls Bucholtz out while simultaneously congratulating him. To me it just seems like he’s having fun with it. Like he caught a kid with his hand in the cookie jar and is just enjoying the shit out of watching the tales that a kid will spin when he knows he’s been busted. Only this time he gets to watch the kid’s fans and media supporters do the spinning as well.

      It’s not surprising given that his books speak a lot to his realization that this is “just a game” and those involved in it take it far too seriously. It’s not a travesty or a black mark on the game. It’s just fun to catch someone and go “Busted!”

  15. One thing to consider is IF there is a foreign substance involved I would hope that a major leaguer surrounded by major leaguers and major league coaches could find a more subtle application technique than in plain sight on his fucking forearm. That being said there could be a stash somewhere on him (pocket or inside of the glove) and throughout the game he was wiping the residue on arm to get the ideal amount of lubrication thus creating the shiny shmear. Long story short let’s just bring back the man in white and call it even…

  16. Meh whatever. Even Hayhurst (who started it all) said everyone cheats. He was just chuckling over how much and how obvious it was in this case.

    Considering how badly we lost, it hardly matters either way.

  17. I actually like Jack Morris in the booth. I am likely in the minority and I generally hate all the talking heads. Not because I don’t think they know anything, I just think they dumb it down to pander to the casual viewer without being offensive.

  18. They cheated to win their world serieseseseses. Its proven. Why wouldnt they cheat now? Dirty fucking cheaters the whole lot.

  19. Not a doubt in my mind Buchholz was up to something on the mound. Was it legal? Sure doesn’t look like it to me.

    That’s one shiny forearm… but not the other one. Odd.

    Whatever.

  20. “Salty this isn’t my first [expletive] rodeo”

    Even though I am not at all a fan of Jack in the booth, this is just fucking awesome.

    • i got fuckin pissed at a rodeo once, i fucked this fat blob of a bitch in the ditch while it rained. the thistles tickled my balls, i thought the mechanical bull was the shitter….thats when i got kicked out

  21. It pretty simple…..

    Does the combo of water, rosin,and sweat have that kind of shine with multiple applications?

    If yes, non-stroy.

    If no, we got something.

    Someone do a home experiment please!

  22. I don’t blame Jack. Buchholz is one greasy scuzzy sumbitch. He looks like some extra from ShaNaNa out there on the bump. Boston fans and media are insufferable when on top.

  23. I’d like to know what those fuckfaces keating & nelson think about this..

    also Morris >>>> tabler.

  24. The difference between this and the “Man in White” stuff is that an extensive article was written and treated like an expose using facts that Parkes took apart in about 3 minutes.

    Buccholz is loading up. I’m not outraged, because he’s owned the Jays anyway.

    The Sox media’s reaction is HILARIOUS, however. Eckersley is such a tool.

  25. Honestly I spend 90% of every game fucking hating Jack Morris, but at least part of that is just transference from how miserable I am watching this team.

    At least once a game, he’ll say something you legitimately never considered about the game of baseball. And that’s something Pat would never, ever do.

    Having said that, while the Jays are losing, or when no lead seems safe, Jack just seems like he’s trolling the fucking fanbase. And since that describes every goddamned day I’m having a lot of trouble tolerating Jack Morris.

  26. They’re all out to get poor Toronto, circle the wagons, win some fucking ballgames.

    I also enjoyed Jack these past days. He’s not afraid to point out when players are sucking.

    • I love the fact he called out JP the other day for sucking @ catching, which then led to buck & zaun calling out JP

  27. As a relative new-comer to the City and the Blue Jays I took the criticism levelled at Jack Morris as gospel when he joined Sportsnet this year.

    I have to say I’ve quite enjoyed his insights and perspective on pitching on either the radio or the colour commentary.

  28. I thought it was illegal to apply anything to the ball other then rosin?

    As a ball player I can tell you that is not rosin. I’m an amateur gynecologist and my guess is Vagisil.

    • Mr. amateur gynecologist, would you kindly remind the forum what your previous handle was before ‘Previously..’

      I think it is relevant to an examination of your credentials.

    • Or better yet, before ‘Formerly…’

  29. Morris has been ok, above all because he’s not afraid to say the team is bad. There’s been no ball-washing from day one. At first, that put my back up … but you have to say he had a point given the last month.

    Buck and Tabby never, ever, ever, say anything negative about the team, or criticise individual players. A player in a slump is always ‘coming around’. Even Jerry is very slow to be critical. I recall hearing him flattering Arencibia’s defence, and Morris basically saying that JP wasn’t that great, and in the same conversation dared to say that the Jays’ World Series MVP catcher was ‘a bit of a work in progress too’, which was pretty obvious code for ‘crap’.

    My perfect booth right now would be Wilner and Hayhurst, but Morris is alright. and a HUGE trade up on fucking Cliche-o-Matic-2000-Tabler, whenever he does the TV. Buck and Morris on TV – I could live with.

  30. And as for Jack, the man is insightful, I think the reason why some (including me) have been annoyed with him at times is because he’s too honest. Pointing out how shitty one of our hitters approach is or how hittable one of our pitchers is can be painful when it’s already clearly obvious to the viewer.

    For me, the attacks on his credibility in “Spit Gate” because he’s employed by the Jays is laughable because he’s been anything but a :Homer” on air. In fact he’s flat out called some of these guys useless but used other words.

    • lol, well i kinda find it refreshing. There is no point in sugar coating bullshit to get people to eat it.

  31. So whats the over/under that Bucholz gets lit up the next outing?

  32. Can we slander him because he’s just a greasy piece of shit, instead?

    • I heard he makes his girlfriend dress up like a stuffed animal before sex.

      • I heard he had sex with Hazel Mae.

        • i once fucked hazel mae behind the dumpster at the liquor store, she gots mad at me when i says to her quit smilin, you looks like a jack o lantern…trick or treat eh?

  33. Morris hasn’t been as bad lately as he was at the first of the year…personally speaking. What he’s got going for him is that he’s not Tabby.
    Tabby wouldn’t say shit if his mouth was full of it…he’s a hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil kind of guy.
    Morris has been calling the guys out for poor technique and execution…whereas Tabby just loves soft hands, and playing the game “the right way”.

  34. Eckersley is such an insufferable fucking masshole douchebag. I remember watching him do the color for a Jays/Sox NESN broadcast a few years ago and I wanted to hurt somebody.

    Normally I wouldn’t wish physical violence on somebody but he is an exception.

  35. You guys should read the comments section in the Big League Stew article about this. The amount of anti-Canadian vitriol is hilarious.

  36. I remember reading Dave Stiebs book when i was a kid, I remember him saying that pretty much every pitcher uses a substance.

  37. Morris is the broadcast equivalent of Nyquil but “Salty, this isn’t my first fucking rodeo!” is pretty much the greatest expletive of all time.

  38. All of a sudden I like Jack Morris.

    Also, I’m surprised no one has done this yet, and I need a bigger pic of Edwin rounding the bases, but here’s an attempt at a “Walking The Parrot” photoshop.

  39. I love Jack Morris and think he has been awesome so far.

    What I don’t love is the idea of a bunch of toothless, junkie fucking Southies carrying that dickless Farrell through the streets like he is some kind of god. Ewwww.

  40. Why the fuck does he have ANYTHING on his arm? Water? What? Im not saying he is going to his arm to elicit some favorable action on the ball..but Im saying that I dont believe having anything on there, for whatever, reason, is legal.

  41. Buchholz should have been a Blue Jay. If AA had played the fuck out of the Farrell situation, Buchholz would have been the compensation coming back our way. Now? Now he’s a “cheater”. I don’t give a shit, fuck the Red Sox either way.

  42. Morris has been a pleasant surprise, it’s a shame he’s stuck with a dope like Buck Martinez, someone who spends half the game telling the same old stories and self-deprecating jokes.

    As for Buchholz, why does he have anything on his arm in the first place?

    • Crisco, Bardol, Vagisil. Any one of those will give you an extra 2-3 inches of drop on your curveball.

    • Morris is fucking awful. Tabler is a million times better.

      • Perhaps Morris is getting the benefit of the small sample size right now, but to say Tabler is a million times better is ridiculous. At best they’re equals in the bad broadcaster department and Buck Martinez trails not too far behind. The Jays have had a bad broadcasting team for the past few years, not Hawk Harrelson bad, but still pretty bad.

  43. Buck also mentioned Ky Jelly this morning, cuz i’m sure, y’know, every major-league locker room has a bottle or two of KY kicking around…

  44. LOL so now the PATHETIC Jays are resorting to bashing good teams

  45. The Verducci article was OK, but I’m waiting for an ex-pitcher not affiliated with either the Jays or Bosox to go on the record about this.

  46. Jack Morris has been a pleasant surprise behind the mike. It’s been a breath of fresh air partnering up with Buck during television broadcasts. It’s not that I dislike Tabby, but both him and Buck don’t partner up that well. They just babble too much together, and will repeat over and over the same subject during games.

  47. I’m not a fan of Morris, he’s pretty unpolished (to say the least) on the mic. Last week he made some clumsy, weird attempt at a joke about players becoming polygamists to get more time off on the paternity list….Jerry totally ignored it and Morris sheepishly apologized a few minutes later. It also doesn’t help Morris that he’s following Ashby, who was terrific.

    That being said, I will take Morris’ back every time in a debate with friggin’ Eckersley. Not that I think Jack is a HOFer by any stretch, but Eckersley is one of the most borderline guys in the Hall and he’s calling others out? Laughable.

  48. Technically I never cheated in the White House either

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