May 8, 2013, 3:30 PM EDT
Jeff Passan picks up the thread Dirk Hayhurst and Jack Morris pulled last week regarding Clay Buchholz‘s start against the Jays and accusations that he was doctoring the ball:
Two veteran pitchers and one source close to the Red Sox told Yahoo! Sports that about 90 percent of major league pitchers use some form of spray-on sunscreen – almost always BullFrog brand – that when combined with powdered rosin gives them a far superior grip on the ball … one source close to the Red Sox confirmed the team’s pitchers almost all rely on sunscreen for better grip on finicky balls, particularly in cold, bad weather.
It seems almost certain, based on what Passan’s sources are telling him, that yes, Buchholz was applying a foreign substance to the ball last week. But it also seems certain, based on what Passan’s sources are telling him, that almost all pitchers do it and, really, no one cares.
Which I think does matter when talk about the nature of all of this. How much it matters I don’t know. If the Blue Jays were willing to look the other way — and they were, probably because their pitchers do the same damn thing — I’m not sure where the mandate to start inspecting every pitcher’s arm comes from, even if applying Bull Frog to the ball is a violation of a clear rule.
Of course, I’ve been trying to tell people for years that, while against the rules, players using PEDs was maybe something more complex than anti-PED gang was willing to admit given its pervasive and open use. Doesn’t make it right. Doesn’t make it legal. But does provide some context with which reasonable people should maybe use in order to filter their outrage and with which to determine just how sharp those pitchforks should be.
So: any of those folks willing to take the “I don’t care if everyone is doing it and it’s ‘just part of the game,’ Buchholz is a cheating cheater who cheats” tack here? I’m not gonna hold my breath for it, but please, let me know if you feel that way.
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