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Was Mariano Rivera throwing a spitball?

Oct 20, 2009, 8:39 AM EDT

Watch the video here.  And check out the pic to the right.  This took place in the bottom of the 10th yesterday, right after he completed his warmup pitches.  He’s facing away from home plate.

Call me crazy, but it appears to me like Rivera looks up to see if anyone is watching, then looks down and spits right on the ball.  Is that the secret to his cutter? Anyone have an alternate explanation as to what is going on?

Holy smokes. I have to imagine we’ll hear more about this as the day goes on.

UPDATE:  I’ve had a bunch of conversations with a bunch of people on this in the past hour.  Some general observations/questions:

Q: Is Mariano definitely spitting on the ball?

A: Hard to say. Looks like it to me, but the cutaway is quick and the angle could be deceiving. I’m just going with my first impression of what the video and photo show.  I’d kill for another angle of this.

Q: Do you actually throw a spitball by, you know, spitting on the ball?

A: It’s not the most traditional way — according to everything I’ve read merely wetting the fingers is more common — but it’s certainly been done.  Really, anything that either (a) adds a viscous fluid to the ball to alter its flight; or (b) lubes it up to decrease friction upon release, thereby increasing the spin and thus the ultimate drop is sufficient.

Q: If it is a spitball, why would Rivera be so obvious about it?  He’s a smart guy. He’d try to hide it better, wouldn’t he?

A: Maybe so. But isn’t it just as valid to say that Rivera, one of the most talented pitchers ever, never had to use a spitball before, and thus if he is now, he’s less likely to be practiced at it than a guy who had to cheat just to keep his job?

I have no idea what he’s doing here — and I simply don’t want to believe that Rivera was throwing a spitter, because I’ve always admired and respected the guy — but it doesn’t seem satisfying to simply say “Mariano would never do this, so he didn’t do it.”  The video is very, very interesting.  It may be completely debunked by another angle — and if anyone has one, please send it ASAP and I’ll update.  But for now, it’s all we have.

I know I have a reputation for baiting Yankees fans, but I am sincere in asking whether or not Rivera was doing this.  I don’t know, and I’m open to alternate interpretations and evidence.

(thanks to Jason Epstein for the link)


Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that MLB “is investigating video that shows Mariano Rivera spitting toward a baseball before facing his first batter in the 10th inning of Game 3.”  Sherman notes that “the initial reaction by the league is that the video plus still pictures they have of the incident are inconclusive.”

UPDATE #3As Aaron notes, evidence was found of a spitter, which presumably closes the case.

  1. greg - Oct 20, 2009 at 2:42 PM

    Must be nice to be a perfect speller! you are not a nice person for picking on somebody. I hope it makes you feel good. ;

  2. greg - Oct 20, 2009 at 2:44 PM

    Oh another bully.. real tough guy.. must have short comings and own a big truck, huh

  3. tank74 - Oct 20, 2009 at 2:45 PM

    Crazy? Maybe. An idiot? Definitely! The film clearly shows Rivera looking up. Not checking out three umpires who would have a clear view of his activity, not too mention voluminous cameras. Clearly your motto is: “Haven’t got story, invent some Yankee controversy.”

  4. Nick - Oct 20, 2009 at 2:47 PM

    The official statement from MLB which viewed the footage, probably using much better equipment than some of you knuckleheads, says that Mariano did NOT spit on the ball. So there you go. Debate it all you want. The verdict is in. Mariano is innocent and those of you who think they KNOW that he’s not are a bunch of dopes.
    ….26 and counting!

  5. greg - Oct 20, 2009 at 2:48 PM

    another bully ! I will bet you have a big truck and small other things , huh lol

  6. Blazar - Oct 20, 2009 at 2:50 PM

    What a load of crap. You can clearly see he does not spit on the ball. It always has to be something with you non Yankee fans. They are playing great so of course this is a reason right?

  7. Redsux - Oct 20, 2009 at 2:51 PM

    Hey! You spelled everything correctly! Good job! I bet you proofread it before you sent it, didn’t you? You get a gold star for the day, Greg!

  8. Nick - Oct 20, 2009 at 2:55 PM

    Are you the Rainman? Why are you repeating yourself?
    Jeopardy starts at 7:30 on the east coast, Dude.

  9. Greg - Oct 20, 2009 at 2:55 PM

    another bully to add to the list.

  10. greg - Oct 20, 2009 at 2:58 PM

    I am only 12 years .old pick on somebody your own size,, dude

  11. Redsux - Oct 20, 2009 at 2:59 PM

    You have a list of bullies? I feel bad now. Sorry, Man. I’m not going to be ONE more person who picks on you for whatever reason. Something tells me, though, that you give people a reason!
    I’m out! Go Yanks!

  12. Nick - Oct 20, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    If that’s the case then I apologize! If it’s not, then I don’t! You should be in school anyway.

  13. Mateo - Oct 20, 2009 at 3:04 PM

    You can see the spit bounce off the ball when you pause it at the 6 second mark. I think that should be conclusive enough, especially when you can tell from one angle on YouTube that his stream of spit hit the ball. Nice work by the camera crew to immediately cut to Mike Scioscia though…

  14. greg - Oct 20, 2009 at 3:06 PM

    Ya Go Yankees,, Phillies are waiting for you!!

  15. greg - Oct 20, 2009 at 3:08 PM

    home sick today… 😦

  16. Catfish - Oct 20, 2009 at 3:14 PM

    Youtube…now THAT’S conclusive evidence. You’re a jerk just like everybody else. I hope somebody spits on your forehead and posts that video on youtube.

  17. t burg - Oct 20, 2009 at 3:17 PM

    I saw it live and rewinded it it with my DVR. He Did NOT spit on the ball. The spit wnet by the ball on the ground. Live it looked suspicious, but dvr helped me see that it didnt really happen.

  18. Dr. Balls - Oct 20, 2009 at 3:18 PM

    I know some good websites you can go to if you wanna see some chicks clearly spitting on somebody’s balls.

  19. Yankees fan - Oct 20, 2009 at 3:24 PM

    Thank you deadspin for the still frames that show the spit not hitting the ball.

  20. DodgerFan4Life - Oct 20, 2009 at 4:39 PM

    Yankee’s and going to lose against the Angels tonight and the next game in the OC. Yankee’s suck! get some younger players!!!

  21. Michael - Oct 20, 2009 at 5:04 PM

    The kind of crap in these comments is why most of America loves to watch the Yankees lose. (My favorite was when the Yanks got slaughtered in Game 6 of the 2001 Series, and ratings went UP as the game went on.)
    Deadspin showed SOME spit below the ball, not THE spit below the ball. But because Gawker is always the arbiter of what’s a scandal and what’s not (e.g., Josh Hamilton), I guess their ruling must stand.

  22. Joe - Oct 20, 2009 at 6:24 PM

    Get your facts straight dumba$$ before making such a claim.

  23. bigyaz - Oct 20, 2009 at 6:27 PM

    I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan, but these accusations are ludicrous. For one thing, a spitball very seldom has anything to do with spit. Vaseline is universally preferred; spit just doesn’t weigh enough to have much of an effect.

  24. smsetnor - Oct 21, 2009 at 2:23 AM

    @ Craig:
    You’re a big jerk and have proved it time and again by questioning the sanctity of A-Rod (real YANKEES fans would never do so). But to question Mariano Rivera based on video evidence (which was obviously purposely manipulated by Red Sox Nation) is crossing the line. I can’t wait til NBC fires you and stuff.

  25. lightfighter - Oct 21, 2009 at 4:46 AM

    You are so funny, lol. Did you mean The Nile?

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