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Ricky Nolasco runs afoul of the new finger licking rule

Apr 8, 2010, 10:28 AM EDT

Ricky Nolasco 2.jpgThere’s a new rule in place this year that, for the first time, allows pitchers to lick their fingers while on the mound as long as (a) they’re not on the rubber when you do it; and (b) they wipe their hand on their shirt or their pants or something before they grab the ball. Previously guys had to step completely off the mound to do it, which led to a lot of leisurely strolls the powers that be don’t like to see anymore due to pace-of-the game issues.

The Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco thought he was taking advantage of it last night when he went to his mouth, except he was on the rubber when he did it and was thus immediately charged with a ball. The night before Fernando Nieve had a ball charged to him too, not because he was on the rubber — he was on the grass — but because he didn’t wipe his hand off first.

I guess I understand the new rule and I also understand why it might take those creatures of habit we call pitchers a while to get used to it. What I don’t understand is what licking your fingers does for you if you just have to wipe them off a second later.

Bob Tufts: you out there? What’s the story?

  1. Spice - Apr 8, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    Even after wiping them the fingers have some moisture left and it still gives you a better grip. Not wiping them leaves them slick and allows you to get top spin in stead of back spin. That give the ball more abrupt downward break. Think spit ball

  2. RickyB - Apr 8, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    The wiping off of what you just licked is to get the excess moisture off the hand, something that could load up the ball. Even after wiping, however, your grip is still improved, especially in cold weather. Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean. Like when you’re trying to turn a page but don’t have the moisture on your hand to do so effectively, people (at least they used to before sanitary issues became all the rage) would lick their finger to turn the page. Even if you wipe what you just licked, it is still effective in helping to turn the page.
    God that is awfully written, but I don’t feel like cleaning it up. Read at your own peril.

  3. Pork - Apr 8, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    The rule seems a bit silly to me. What is the definition of “wiping you hand on shirt/pants”? Can I guy hock a loogy into his hand, graze his shirt, and call it a “wipe.” (I’m pretty sure these are the scientific terms). Guys are always looking for an advantage. Seems to me like we’re going to have more spit balls than ever being tossed.

  4. jeff z - Apr 8, 2010 at 12:02 PM

    If you’ve ever licked your fingers, wiped them, then gripped a ball, you’d realize the effect it has, it actually will improve your grip on the ball, until the condensation from the pores in your fingers dries up more, but in gripping the ball, there is an advantage to being able to do it. Try it sometime and you’ll see…once you fasten that better grip you may even be able to put more action on it as a result…

  5. InnocentBystander - Apr 8, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    This is huge for Mike Pelfrey. An intern for The Fan morning show has a number of funny and/or ridiculously bad song parodies. Search “lick” here: I think my favorite is the Beatles “I Like To Lick My Hands”.

  6. Kevin - Apr 8, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    Just echoing what everybody else said…I pitched in high school last year and would lick my fingers before practically every pitch, it definitely improved my grip.

  7. Mathew - Apr 8, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    Craig lick your fingers then whipe them off and you will understand how it helps.
    It gives you more grip. When you fingers are dry the ball tends to slip out of your hand easier. When you lick them then whipe them off it makes your fingers sticky.
    If you have ever watched football you will see qbs do it almost before every play to get a better grip and spin on the ball. Try throwing a baseball or football without doing it and then see how much it helps when you do do it.
    I was a center in highschool and I would have to do it before every play especially in the cold to make sure I had the best grip possible.

  8. Old Gator - Apr 9, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    It’s a move Ricky learned watching Scrooge McLoria counting his way through a roll of $100 bills to make sure every penny of his luxury tax allocation was in that envelope.

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