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Tom Verducci thinks Clay Buchholz is cheating

May 3, 2013, 1:29 PM EDT


In his latest, SI’s Tom Verducci looks at the video evidence — and uses his own observations over the past couple of years — and concludes that Clay Buchholz is doctoring the baseball with some sort of substance that is not permitted under the rules:

Buchholz’s left forearm glistens this year with some kind of substance that is not rosin or perspiration. As the righthander admitted, he does keep water on his uniform and in his hair and does pat the rosin bag on his left forearm — all apparently legal. But rosin is white and has a matte finish. Something wet and mostly clear glistens from Buchholz’s left wrist to his elbow, the moisture of which darkens the edge of his left undershirt sleeve.

I wonder if Eck will now play the “Verducci never played the game” card. Seems like he would.

Anyway, here’s one of baseball’s most respected voices with Hayhurst’s back. He quotes extensively from Dirk’s book about how pitchers use goop to improve their grip and gives the strong impression that he feels Buchholz is doing just that.

Weirdest thing: he doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal. He doesn’t come down on it with any form of judgment, really, but just notes that it’s common for pitchers to do it. Indeed, the column almost seems dissonent. Like it needed one more paragraph in which Verducci actually says what he thinks about Buchholz cheating. But it never comes. Verducci just leaves it hanging.

Which is kind of surprising for a guy who is completely against the “well, everyone was doing it” mentality when it comes to PEDs.

  1. waiverclaim - May 3, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    Rick Vaughn: [Seeing Harris take off his shirt, revealing white suff on his chest] What’s that shit on your chest?
    Eddie Harris: [Looking at his chest] Crisco.
    Eddie Harris: [wiping it across his head]
    Eddie Harris: Bardol.
    Eddie Harris: [wiping it along his waist line]
    Eddie Harris: Vagisil. Any one of them will give you another two to three inches drop on your curve ball. Of course if the umps are watching me real close I’ll rub a little jalapeo up my nose, get it runnin’, and if I need to load the ball up I just…
    Eddie Harris: [wipes his nose]
    Eddie Harris: …wipe my nose.
    Rick Vaughn: You put snot on the ball?
    Eddie Harris: I haven’t got an arm like you, kid. I have to put anything on it I can find. Someday you will too.

    • bobwsc - May 3, 2013 at 1:41 PM

      beat me to it – well done.

  2. chacochicken - May 3, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    Dr. Strangestuff or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Clay Buchholz.

    I think we all know the only way to find out the truth is commence the water-boarding of Clay.

  3. bobwsc - May 3, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    could be any one of these three – crisco, bardol, or vagisil – if he’s mastered the Eddie Harris tecnique. or there is always the jalepeno induced snot trail to get that extra three inches of break on the curve ball.

  4. illcomm - May 3, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    this is not even close to.the same category as PED use. he is cheating similar to a batter using a corked bat. no more no less

    • tycobbfromfangraphs - May 3, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      Corked bats hurt your power and only allow you a longer bat with less weight than normal. Corked bats should not be considered cheating but being stupid.

    • Craig Calcaterra - May 3, 2013 at 1:48 PM

      It’s violating a baseball rule to gain a competitive advantage.

    • someguyinva - May 3, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      So, hypothetically, if a pitcher were to engage in behavior that would put both Eddie Harris and Gaylord Perry to shame, not get caught, and set the career (or even season) record for strikeouts, you’d be okay with that?

  5. darthicarus - May 3, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    To quote the great Zazu, “cheetahs never prosper.”

  6. ltzep75 - May 3, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    a quick google search reveals that rosin comes in many varieties. Such as a gel or goopy substance.

  7. sabatimus - May 3, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    “Something wet and mostly clear glistens from Buchholz’s left wrist to his elbow”. Um, SWEAT, perhaps? To Verducci, Morris, and Dirk, I have two words: Joe Niekro.

    • evanwins - May 3, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      It’s funny how one arm is completely covered in sweat the entire game and the other, or the rest of his exposed body/face, aren’t sweating at all. How exactly does that work?

  8. mybrunoblog - May 3, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    “If you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t tryin”

  9. mornelithe - May 3, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Innocent until proven guilty, and these clowns have zero proof whatsoever. So to demonize a pitcher who’s doing superbly this year, with absolutely NO teams filing any complaints, once, over the past 7 years of his career is simply a sign of how ‘journalism’ is defined this day and age. I don’t care who Tom Verducci is, guess what, Bill Frist thought he could diagnose brain activity through a video also, that didn’t work out to well for him either. And Frist was a Senator and a Doctor, what’s Tom Verducci done in his life? Oh, he’s never played baseball? Oh, he’s just a sportswriter? Gotcha. Just because you write for SI, doesn’t make you an expert on Jack and Sh!t. He may be a great writer, but this is simply a bush-league maneuver.

    Find some proof, either through meticulous recreation of the event, or some kind of test done on his arm, jersey etc… or keep it to yourselves until you DO find some proof. Until then, bringing it up is simply another example of the ‘I have absolutely no evidence to back me up here, but I’m just asking a question’ line of journalistic integrity.

  10. mungman69 - May 3, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    If you want to know if Clay is cheating why don’t you just ask him? Simple enough.

    • randygnyc - May 3, 2013 at 2:25 PM

      I agree. Athletes like Lance Armstrong and Ryan Braun immediately come to mind for how cheaters always tell the truth.

      • xavier46 - May 3, 2013 at 2:48 PM

        Not to mention A-Rod; guy is a role model.

  11. icanspeel - May 3, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    Now that everyone is watching it makes me wonder how Buchholz performance will be the rest of the year.

  12. Bob - May 3, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    I’ll provide this basic service of journalism because Verducci seems incapable of it:

    Full disclosure: Tom Verducci once played in spring training for the Toronto Blue Jays.

    That breaks another tenet of journalism of which Verducci didn’t bother to heed: the journalist should never be the story.

    Am I saying that Verducci is automatically biased? No. But when you engage in a journalist-plays-ball stunt like he did in 2005 and subsequently have a tie to a team, it’s a conflict of interest. It presents the appearance of a bias, even if there is no bias intended.

    He’s a full-blown hack.

    • 18thstreet - May 3, 2013 at 4:29 PM

      Boy, you really jumped from one small anecdote there, didn’t you?

    • tuberippin - May 3, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      Yeah, I like subjective conclusions too.

  13. bigharold - May 3, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    If, and that’s a big if, he is using a foreign substance it’s still cheating. Corked bat, PEDs or doctoring the ball, .. cheating is cheating. The method isn’t as important as the intent.

    I’m not at all convinced the Buchholz is cheating but I’m going to bet that he’s going to get a lot more scrutiny for a while until people are satisfied one way or the other. And, if his season goes down hill from her it will only add fuel to the fire that he was cheating. In a way that isn’t fair because even if he wasn’t cheating it is almost a certainty that he wasn’t going to go undefeated with an ERA around 1.00 for the remainder of the season. So his merely returning to more representative production will look shady. What will be most telling is does he return to a Buchhoz that showed promise and flashes of brilliance or does he return to the pitcher that has been clearly struggling last times over the last couple of seasons.

    If it’s the former I’m willing to say that he just got off to a great start and returned to normal. If it’s the latter, .. well, if it looks like a duck, quakes a duck and walks like a duck…. it a friggin cheating duck!

  14. proudlycanadian - May 3, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Hayhurst and Morris knew that he was cheating because they are former pitchers and know the tricks of the trade. Pitchers do learn the tricks of the trade from other pitchers. Neither of them made a big deal of it since most pitchers do something. Read Hayhurst’s comments on for his opinion. Eck who was known to scuff baseballs, was probably upset, because former pitchers spoke out.

  15. rbj1 - May 3, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Maybe he’s using the grease from the stash of fried chicken?

  16. illcomm - May 3, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    yes. there are different types of rosin, but the only rosin permitted in baseball is the rosin bag itself.

  17. gerryb323 - May 3, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Where’s Pedro Gomez when you need him? Oh right, Buchholz DID deny it.

  18. El Bravo - May 3, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    I’m sure it’s nothing serious. Probably just liquid cocaine or something.

  19. paperlions - May 3, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    If he was really putting something on the ball and the Jays thought he was, it would be easy enough to find out….they have all the balls that were taken out of play last night while he was pitching, the Jays could have immediately checked any of them if they were concerned.

  20. illcomm - May 3, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    even I won’t group clay with lance or Braun. two totally different forms of cheating. rosin isn’t illegal. clay may get the standard ten game if that. what lance did was supposedly the ring leader/profiteer of a vast criminal enterprise spanning us and international borders. he ruined lives thru intimidation and blacklisting . clay was just using some resin to make sure the sox have a plus 500 record for the season.

    • randygnyc - May 3, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      I wasn’t comparing the severity of the deception, just that athletes, when asked, are always going to lie. Except Andy Pettitte.

  21. illcomm - May 3, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    not everyone lies, but I do see your point. hey if you have enough money you can just buy biogenisis. who needs to lie then.

  22. uyf1950 - May 3, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Curiouser and curiouser the story that refuses to die.

  23. soxfan34110 - May 3, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    Didn’t Verducci also say that the Sox were the best run organization in the history of sports right before they went into a two year organizational free fall? Not sure his opinion has been entirely accurate of late…I’m just saying.

  24. braddavery - May 3, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    What is the difference between saying “Cheating is cheating” and saying “Committing a crime is committing a crime”. To compare PED use with doctoring a baseball is like comparing murder to petty larceny. There are LEVELS of cheating and I dislike it when people compare apples to oranges, ie PED use with ball doctoring, corking bats, etc. It’s simply not the same no matter how hard someone tries to convince you it is.

    • uyf1950 - May 3, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      My friend, here is the definition of cheating as published in Marriam-Webster:
      Cheating: to violate rules dishonestly

      Show me where it draws a distinction between what Buchholz is accused of doing and what those that use PED’s were accused of. Now there can be differences in punishment for the degree of cheating but it’s still cheating. And contrary to your comment cheating is cheating.

      • braddavery - May 3, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        Should I tell you the definition of “crime” so you see how dumb it is to use a single word, all-encompassing definition to describe the many different variables that cheating entails.

      • braddavery - May 3, 2013 at 3:38 PM

        P.S. I never said or implied that cheating ISN’T cheating. So I have no idea what your point even is. You basically agreed with me that there are different levels of cheating, each of which receive different levels of punishment.

      • uyf1950 - May 3, 2013 at 4:09 PM

        braddavery, you avoided in your reply my comment that said “And contrary to your comment cheating is cheating.” That was my point.

      • braddavery - May 3, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        Yeah, I know that cheating is cheating. I also know that there are many forms of cheating and some are more extreme than others.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 3, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      compare apples to oranges, ie PED use with ball doctoring, corking bats, etc

      How are they apples to oranges? Both are done to achieve a competitive advantage over the opposition. One, backed by science, has a much smaller effect than many realize, and the other has been banned because it directly lead to a player’s death. I’ll let you figure out which is which.

      • braddavery - May 3, 2013 at 3:42 PM

        Why don’t you ask Major League Baseball why their punishments for PED use is extreme compared to punishments for ball-doctoring, bat-corking, etc. Let me know if they treat them exactly the same because they are all forms of cheating. K? Thanks.

      • braddavery - May 3, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        Maybe if Buchholz is caught doctoring the baseball he will get a 50-game ban. Do you think he will, seeing that he cheated and all forms of cheating are exactly the same?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 3, 2013 at 4:02 PM

        Why don’t you ask Major League Baseball why their punishments for PED use is extreme compared to punishments for ball-doctoring, bat-corking, etc.

        Maybe because they got their collective asses hauled in front of Congress and were verbally spanked in front of the public? But no, a group would never overreact to something like that. However, even taking the punishments at face value, would you consider cocaine use cheating, whether recreational or not? Because it’s punished far more harshly than doctoring a ball or corking a bat? Merely looking at the length of punishment isn’t sufficient to determine the level of cheating.

      • braddavery - May 3, 2013 at 4:10 PM

        Literally altering the physiological nature of one’s body is much more extreme than altering an inanimate object to better suit your needs. That is why it is more frowned upon and considered an elevated form of cheating. You can talk at me all day with this nonsense, but I know what the differences are. There are levels of cheating, you know it and I know it.

      • tuberippin - May 3, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        So then why the fuck are you arguing if you’re not going to sway anyone’s feelings on the matter and no one is going to sway your sentiments on the matter?

      • braddavery - May 3, 2013 at 5:29 PM

        You gonna be okay?

  25. lawrinson20 - May 3, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    The team being whiffed should be able to request an inspection of a ball.
    They should collect a few foul balls and inspect them.
    They should be able to request a garment, after a game, and benefit from a forfeiture if the garment is touched with an illegal substance.
    If there is incontrvertible video evidence, that should be used.

    None of these things happened. To the accusers: STFU until you actually KNOW something.

    This isn’t a kid out of nowhere. He’s been good in the past. He pitched a no-hitter. Was he cheating then? And, then decided to stop cheating and let his record suffer for a while? The entire Sox staff is pitching amazing ball this season. With the return of their pitching coach turned manager. Coincidence?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 3, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      He pitched a no-hitter.

      Y’all need to stop using this as if it’s evidence of a player’s greatness. Phil Humber threw a perfect game, and yet can’t stop getting passed around in waivers like a box of tissues. Armando Galaragga was a bad call away from a perfecto, has been on three teams in three years, and isn’t even pitching in the bigs this year.

      The entire Sox staff is pitching amazing ball this season. With the return of their pitching coach turned manager. Coincidence?

      If he’s so magical, how do you explain Ricky Romero falling off a cliff last year?

      • evanwins - May 3, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        “If he’s so magical, how do you explain Ricky Romero falling off a cliff last year?”
        The great Toronto Rosin shortage of 2012?

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