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.
One trip, the embarrassing Farrell Boo(ze). Next, Bucholz “spitter.” Paranoia strikes deep. Baseball with subtitles.
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) May 3, 2013
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]
Rick Ankiel can still do things