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A Cardinals minor leaguer wonders if Jon Lester was doctoring up the ball last night

Oct 24, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT

UPDATE: MLB has issued a statement saying the video was inconclusive. So, basically, this little controversy is over.

9:30 AM: Well here’s some fun fodder to tide us over until game time!

Tyler Melling, a minor league pitcher in the Cardinals organization, took to Twitter last night to ask whether Jon Lester was adding a little foreign substance to the ball:

Here’s video:

And here’s another pic of Lester’s glove:


Interesting. Inconclusive — he could just as easily be wiping sweat off his fingers as he is wiping goo on, or he could just be doing weird OCD crap like touching the strings of his glove, etc. — but interesting.

Let’s see if this gets any traction. Especially given the source of the speculation.

(thanks to @Justin_Shea for alerting me to this)

101 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. bfunk1978 - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    It’s like Kenny Rogers in 2006 who apparently couldn’t wipe when he took an early-game dump.

  2. rollinghighwayblues - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    No denial, but looking at the first picture it looks obvious that there’s something discolored near the end of the finger on the glove. My question would be if it looks that obvious to me, why would Lester put it right there? I would feel like the second base umpire would easily see that when Lester is in the stretch.

    • raiderufan - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:55 AM

      Exaclty. Half a bajillion people watching and all the options available for placing a substance and you choose there? I can’t say it doesn’t look like something is there but…really? There?

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Vaseline? I thought that Red Sox pitchers used sunscreen lotion.

    • xdj511 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      You’re going to pin your hopes on the second base umpire noticing? Remember it was Dana DeMuth who screwed up the ball transfer call in the first inning. I wouldn’t expect him to notice anything odd the pitcher was doing last night.

    • bambam36 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:34 AM

      Definitely doctoring it.

      Don’t know any pitchers that dry their hand on the glove. All the one’s I know use their pants or shirt to make sure nobody thinks they’re trying to doctor it.

  3. futbolhistorian - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    No doubt the same good that caused Kozma’s and Freese’s and Wainwright’s errors, not to mention Papi’s blast.

    • futbolhistorian - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:39 AM

      Same “goo”

    • agilmore1080 - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:41 AM

      Ok, so you’re saying since the Cardinals played poorly it doesn’t matter that the Red Sox starting pitcher was cheating?

      • bradygoat - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:09 AM

      • koufaxmitzvah - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:27 AM

        So I guess you’re saying Joe Kelly intentionally broke Hanley’s ribs? I mean, you all play the right way. Whatever you say goes and stuff.

    • dwrek5 - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:02 AM

      Conveniently overlooked Freese’s double play with the bases loaded….

  4. agilmore1080 - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    The only way that OCD explanation works is if his glove is worn in that specific location and that was what caused it to look like a foreign substance. That is pretty easy to check. Does his glove still look like that now? If not, he was cheating.

  5. johnnyb1976 - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    The cardinal way also includes accusing people of cheating when the cards get beat down.

    • terrapin03 - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      1) This is a social media thing perpetuated by fans, not the Cardinals.
      2) What are the rules for accusing people of cheating? Only when you’re winning?

      • The Procrastinator's Blog For Today - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:17 AM

        “Tyler Melling, a minor league pitcher in the Cardinals organization”… proves that your first statement is false. He plays for the Cardinals minor league system therefore it is the Cardinals perpetuating this.

        Amazes me how St.Louis is “baseball heaven” and yet they don’t seem to know one of the foundational rules of baseball… “There’s no crying in baseball!” (Jimmy Dugan voice)

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:55 AM

      Please sing to the tune of Camp town races…

      “Someone has their feeling hurt, it’s Johnny. It’s Johnny. Someone has their feeling’s hurt and his name is Johnny. His name is Johnny. His name is Johnny. Someone has their feelings hurt and his name is Johnny.”

  6. ctony1216 - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    It could have been something sticky to give Lester a better grip on his curve ball in 45 degree weather.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:10 AM

      …which would be illegal.

    • ctony1216 - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:53 PM

      Obviously, it’s illegal. But the initial accusation was he was applying vaseline — when it was probably not vaseline but something to give Lester a better grip on his curve ball. Both are illegal. I mean, that’s obvious.

  7. stex52 - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    It’s pretty much irrelevant to last night’s result. I guess someone wants Lester thinking about it for the rematch.

    • jm91rs - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:26 AM

      I would have rather kept quiet and run the ump out there to check his glove in game 5. Catch him in the act. Would he get tossed if they caught him in the act?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:03 AM

        Probably not, considering the umps didnt toss Rogers during poopgate.

      • gostlcards5 - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:42 PM

        That would be a good idea, if that’s what the team really thinks. However, this is a minor leaguer, who obviously would rather have the attention of making the accusation than point it out to someone who could look at it for real.

        And by the way, I don’t give a crap if Lester was doctoring the ball, the mistakes that the Cards made in the 1st and 2nd had nothing to do with that. No excuses.

    • indaburg - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      I think you hit the nail on the head, stex. This is just some one-upmanship, trying to mess with Lester’s head a bit.

  8. mrwonderful36 - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    Lester could’ve had a whole gallon of vasoline in his glove last night and the Red Sox would have still won. But this other photo from HBT’s Drew Silva is a little more clearer. Not sure how Craig misses this one for the post.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:57 AM

      Agree on all points 36.

    • birdsonbat - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      How can you say that…? Maybe without the substance the Cards light him up. I know this is going to come across as Cards fans complaining about everything but this is a huge deal. Something is there….it could have altered the outcome of the entire series. The one good thing to come from it is they wouldnt dare try to to it again.

  9. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    Perhaps Bud will send investigators to sleep with people at the glove manufacturer.

  10. 18thstreet - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    I have absolutely no idea what I’m supposed to be looking at in that Vine. That photo is a little weird — but would vaseline show up glowing yellow like that?

    Does anyone on this site have experience using vaseline in a way that is not mentioned on the label? Anyone at all?

    • cur68 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      You know no one’s gonna respond to that, 18th. Off label vaseline use? Right.

      Anyhow, that doesn’t have to be vaseline. Could be sunscreen. Someone on this thread mentioned Bullfrog Sunscreen. Same stuff Bucholtz purportedly had on his forearm earlier this season. Its for a better grip in the cold and it WAS cold last night. Could be that. It could also be a worn spot on the glove, discoloured from too much rubbing.

      What’s not in doubt is that Lester makes a VERY clear move to touching whatever it is. First 2 fingers hit that discoloured spot then go straight to the ball. Someone needs to have a look at that glove. And, when they do, there better be a worn spot there or Mr. Lester, you got some ‘splainin to do.

  11. bradygoat - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    LOL – for all of you sanctimonious Cards fans:

    • terrapin03 - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      Highly relevant to the current conversation, thanks.

    • jimmyt - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:18 AM

      Do we have any pictures of the Cards pitcher’s glove from last night being loaded up? We do have several of the Red Sox pitcher clearly using something.

    • haber218 - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      Well, if we are going to point out things that are irrelevant to the current situation, lets look at the source of those allegations:

      • anxovies - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:52 PM

        So What?! All that proves is that Chris Perez’ dog is a druggie. How does THAT relate to his credibility?

  12. paperlions - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    He was wiping sweat off of his fingers, in 45F weather?

    There may be some other explanation, but sweat isn’t it.

    • lightcleric - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      You do realize you can sweat in cold weather, right?

      Zoom in on the second image:

      1)He’s IS clearly sweating, especially noticeable around his eyes. It could very well be sweat.

      2)Does anyone else see the greenish blot near his index and pinky finger? It may just be the distortion or lighting or something, but still. The last time a Sox pitcher got accused of cheating (Buchholz’s spitball) it ended up being bogus, but ever since the Kenny Rogers incident I think these kinds of things should be closely examined.

      • paperlions - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:41 AM

        I don’t see any evidence of him “clearly sweating”, there is a slight sheen off of his cheekbones, which could happen because of the stadium lights even with completely dry skin (the reason that anyone on camera has make applied is to kill that reflection/shine).

        He doesn’t look like he’s sweating at all in those photos.

    • piscataquis007 - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:51 AM

      Not an athlete are you?

      • paperlions - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:34 AM

        Yes, I realize you can sweat in 45F weather….the level of activity involved in what Lester had to do last night was not sufficient to cause an actual athlete to sweat.

        ….I assume you are not implying that athlete sweat is vaseline-colored.

    • cinfante54 - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      Yeah because throwing a baseball about 100 times with varying speeds doesn’t cause an “actual” athlete to sweat. Unless you’re calling pitchers non-athletes. Better tell all these pitchers to actually do something strenuous! Jeez you would think they knew better than to try and fool us into believing throwing a baseball over 90 mph is hard.

  13. ras1tafari - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    Bullfrog. Duh.

    Bucchholz uses the same stuff, but on his arm. I

  14. ras1tafari - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    Bullfrog. Duh.

    Bucchholz uses the same stuff, but on his arm.

  15. fantasyhockeyguru - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    Wait, Cards fans are angry that a pitcher destroyed them again, so they are making accusations? I’m getting major DeJa Vu

  16. jm91rs - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    There’s definitely a greenish something on his glove. He definitely rubs his fingers on it in the gif so I’d say he was doctoring the ball or his hands. Obviously illegal, but had nothing to do with the outcome of the game last night as I doubt the Cards were gonna score 9.

    The smart thing for that Cards minor leaguer would have been to keep quiet, tell someone in the organization and after a few pitches by Lester in game 5 go ahead and have the ump check his glove. Would he have been ejected if he were caught?

  17. unclemosesgreen - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    That guy is no Dirk Hayhurst.

  18. metintodd - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Is this the new thing, get beaten down, accuse the other team of cheating? Some people just have way too much time on their hands.

  19. piscataquis007 - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    So it takes a Minor Leaguer watching TV to spot something that six umpires, dozens of professional broadcasters with cameras at every angle, MLB Officals, and the entire St. Louis Cardinals team/managers missed?
    We have a three second gif from one pitch in the 7th inning. Hardly iron clad evidence. Can we move on please?

  20. billgatesbarber - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    I guess Lester will go to the jalapeño if there is a game 5.

    • gostlcards5 - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      Well played, bgb.

      You idiots with the blah-blah about the team or the fans making accusations really need to STFU and learn comprehensive reading skills. IT WAS A MINOR LEAGUER IN THE CARDINALS’ SYSTEM. Personally, I’m not even speculating about whether he doctored the ball, and it certainly did not impact how many runs the Sox scored. What others are saying is their own business, but I see more speculation than accusation.

      I would think that someone might have noticed something if it was as obvious as it appears in the picture, but then, we did have the “obvious blown call at 2nd base” thing, too. Whatever, flush it and move on to Gm 2.

  21. chip56 - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Not saying he did or didn’t cheat, however if he did and even if the St. Louis bench noticed it, they likely weren’t going to call him out on it for two reasons:
    1) Their pitchers probably do something similar.
    2) No point in running their pitcher in a blowout – see if it comes up later in the series when Lester pitches again.

  22. codyclement - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    Whether it’s true or not, the strange part is that the person to point it out first is a member of the Cardinals organization. Nobody else watching noticed before him and put it on social media?

    • Panda Claus - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      Makes you wonder if the “it takes one to know one” adage may apply here. If that pitcher has seen it happen a lot, he may have a better idea of what to look for.

  23. pftusername1 - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    so your claiming an ump who handles the ball a couple dozen times an inning never noticed vaseline on the ball. kinda tough to believe.

    • fearlessleader - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      Well, at least one umpire didn’t notice a first-inning double-play ball completely eluding Pete Kozma’s glove, so….

  24. mrwonderful36 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    Here is another photo from ESPN. Strange how prominent it is and the color. I have no clue what it is:

    • modown0 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:51 AM

      It is interesting that it wasn’t there on september 14th…

  25. pstone29 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    OK, so the fans of the team that injured the Dodgers best player on the 4th pitch of the 1st AB of the first game of the NLCS completely shifting the balance of competition is now complaining about a guy doctoring a baseball…Talk about “Mickey Mouse”. Here’s an idea…you’re so sure he’s doing it, call him on it like the Mets did in ’88 with Jay Howell. Otherwise stop complaining and take care of your business or this will be quick and easy.

    • cohnjusack - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      We are calling him on it. MLB looked at the video and came up with “inconclusive”.

      Also, players get hit. It happens to everybody. Get over it. If you really believe Joe Kelly was intentionally throwing at Ramirez to know him out of the series, I have some wonderful tinfoil hats you can purchase.

      • pstone29 - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        He willfully injured the best hitter on the opposing team. The easiest thing to do in baseball as a pitcher is hurt a guy with a 94 MPH fastball and make it look like an accident. He “might” not be guilty but he was definitely responsible and you won 2 games by one run because of it…As for Lester…Call him on it DURING THE GAME!!! If the Cardinals had a beef, they should have. I mean he was out there until the 8th inning mowing down hitters, they had plenty of time. Plenty of eyes watching the game, in-game video…It’s really embarrassing to me that after a team makes awful plays and gets crushed with their “ace” on the mound they turn around and blame Vaseline…Again, you can keep your tinfoil Hat, I have a pair of Mickey Mouse ears for you, far more appropriate, especially with Mickey himself pitching for you last night.

      • cohnjusack - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:30 PM

        He willfully injured the best hitter on the opposing team.

        Yes, with a man one and on a 1-2 pitch in the first inning. Makes perfect sense. This is beyond douchey and pathetic. There were 1,536 HBP in baseball this year. But because this one injured a guy, it must have been intentional. Pathetic.

        Remember, it was a minor leaguer on twitter who saw this. Usually, a person isn’t staring a pitchers glove.

        I would question your denial of something on his glove (which, I will state, I do not know what it is and is very possibly nothing and nothing nefarious was happening. And, even if it was, it made no difference in the outcome of that game because that vaseline didn’t cause 8 runs!) when a photo clearly shows otherwise.

        Finally, I will happily enjoy those Mickey Mouse ears while watching the Cardinals in the series. I don’t know, maybe you can cruise of to AJ Ellis’s house and watch him mow the lawn or whatever he’s up to right now. Booya.

      • gostlcards5 - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:51 PM

        Well stated, CJS.

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