URL Weaver: Idle Hands



The Toronto Blue Jays season thus far has been, to put it mildly, crushingly disappointing. Everything that could go wrong for the title-aspirant Jays absolutely has, from ineffectiveness to injury.

As the wheels come off the 2013 season, the Jays refuse to go quietly. Not on the field, mind you, as the Blue Jays lay down for the Red Sox en route to a three game sweep losing two of three at the hands of their divisional rivals. Some media members around the Blue Jays are bound and determined to raise a big stink off the field – accusing Red Sox pitchers Clay Buchholz and Junichi Tazawa of doctoring baseballs.

This became a huge story overnight as Jays radio broadcaster and long-time big league pitcher Jack Morris accused Wednesday night’s starter for the Red Sox, Clay Buchholz of throwing a spitball. Morris was not alone, as former Blue Jays long man Dirk Hayhurst also stated his belief that Buchholz wasn’t on the up-and-up when it came to substances on his arm being transferred to the baseball.

Chris Toman of MLB.com transcribed some of Morris’ comments from the Blue Jays broadcast last night

“Well, it looks to me like he’s got a little something on his forearm, also,” Morris said during the telecast of Boston’s 3-1 victory. “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.”

Morris later stated he didn’t make any claims on Wednesday, when Hayhurst asked his questions, because he didn’t see it until someone on the Blue Jays TV production showed the former Tigers ace some footage from Buchholz’s sparkling start.

It sparked a minor outrage, as reporters questioned Buchholz, his Red Sox catchers and Boston manager John Farrell about the gunk on Buchholz’s jersey. A “visibly irritated” Farrell denied reports, as did Buchholz, who insists he dumps water on his head after every inning and uses a little bit of rosin to improve his grip on the baseball.

It was “everybody into the pool” time around baseball as the story gained legs. David Schoenfield of ESPN compared the movement of Buchholz’s pitches to that of Mike Scott, famed ball doctor and Houston Astros supernova. Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston spoke at length with the Red Sox catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross, both of whom denied the reports.

Other than a few Blue Jays reporters intimating some grumbling among players during batting practice yesterday, the Blue Jays were strangely silent on this matter. No protest during the game, no requests of the umpire to inspect baseballs or look at Tazawa’s arm or anything. This story became about Jack Morris’ one man crusade to bring Clay Buchholz to justice and inane attempts to discredit Morris by the likes of Dennis Eckersly, rather than a legitimate feeling among those on the field that someone on the other team was cheating.

Which is weird. The players would know if something was up. Attributing Buchholz’s recent success to doctored baseballs all but ignores the strides he made in all facets of the game to improve, improving his fastball command and basically just throwing more strikes.

Until somebody makes an actual complaint on the actual field of play, it should be a non-story. It won’t be but it should be. It isn’t as though there’s a lack of storylines for these two clubs, for opposite reasons of course.

Update: here is a look at some of the questionable fingerbanging by both Tazawa and Buchholz. Somebody’s going to get UTI…

And the rest

RIP Jeff Hanneman

Nice interview with Lucas Harrell, lone shining light for the Astros. [Fangraphs]

Crashbag! [Crashburn Alley]

Related: how the Phillies built the worst outfield in the majors [High Cheese]

As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Blue Jays, Ricky Romero makes his season debut tonight, starting in place of Josh Johnson who was placed on the disabled list [DJF]

An exhaustive look at the mighty home run hacks of Hunter Pence [McCovey Chronicles]

Joe Blanton managed his first three-up, three-down inning of the year in a loss last night. Silver linings for the Halos! [Halo Hangout]

Rick Ankiel can still do things

Comments (17)

  1. And here I thought the Jays won the opener

  2. One day the Blue Jays will be competitive and the rivalry with the Red Sox will be pretty sweet.

  3. We have to take from this year what we can get so allow me to point out that the Jays didn’t get swept, they won game 1…although admittedly they tried very hard to lose it…

  4. Rem Dawg wasn’t very happy with you Toronto

  5. Rick Ankiel threw a strike!!!

  6. The forearm rubbing + Bucholz’s jheri curl look, at least, a little suspicious. Also, I don’t mind the Jays (or at least their commentators) giving a little push back. We’ve had to listen to the Red Sox and Yankees complain about Blue Jay base runners stealing signs for the past three seasons.

    Plus, if we “have to ask the question” when Bautista starts hitting homers, why not ask another when Bucholz starts winning games?

    • Exactly this. How fucking long did we hear about the Man in White – or the Blue Jays stealing signs or whatever else the Boston and NY media could dream up? Get over it!

  7. Although everyone is entitled to their own opinion, Eck crossed the line when he took a jab at Morris about being in the hall, he’s just bitter cause the guy who showed him the door on his career was Robbie Alomar when he took him deep in the 92 ALCS

  8. As if I found out that Jeff Hanneman died from a baseball blog. I fail at music these days. Oh well, all slayer all day.

  9. If only some media outlet could provide the video that has convinced Morris and Hayhurst that there’s something fishy going on…

    That would end the discussion right there, right? ESPN and every other media outlet is reporting the issue solely on the accusations thrown around by Morris and the response of the Boston dugout (and Eckersley, who provides the best “Morris doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he’s not in the Hall of Fame” response). So why hasn’t anyone just shown a few videos of Buchholz’s pitching routine and the chain of events that has Morris saying what he said about cheating? Instead, every sports media outlet is talking about the broadcaster, defending Buchholz based on the word of his teammates (because they’re going to speak ill of him, right?) and avoiding the one thing that would put an end to the controversy, the video.

  10. As a Blue Jays fan, I couldn’t possibly give fewer shits about whether or not those guys are doing something fishy, and even if they are cheating, I’d be surprised if pitchers on every team weren’t doing similar things.

    However, also as a Blue Jays fan, there’s dick-all else to talk about and everything that could possibly be said about the team’s disappointing performance so far has already been repeated ad nauseum. So as much as I consider this a non-story, I do take enjoyment in watching Jack Morris piss off guys like John Farrell, Peter Abraham, and Dennis Eckersley, because (a) those guys suck, and (b) I’m bored.

  11. What’s the deal with umpires checking for foreign substances?
    Does the opposing team have to ask to check the other player? Would the accused get all uppity about his personal rights?

    it would take all of two seconds to touch his arm and find out but i have a feeling everyone would raise a stink about the justification (as if the video weren’t enough)

  12. I’m going to quibble, Drew-

    The Jays as a team didn’t bring this up, Dirk Hayhurst and Jack Morris did. They work for the media, not the team.

    Gibby has said that he didn’t notice anything in game, that this has happened for years in baseball and the stuff on Buccholz’s forearm “isn’t why we lost the game.”

    Baseball media picked up on what Hayhurst and Morris said. This doesn’t have much to do with the actual team, it’s just noise.

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