Jonah Keri has a great article over at Grantland today. It’s about the spitball. Its history. Its glory. Its grossness. And, ultimately, its decline.
But why did it decline? One reason cited, which I never considered, was the advent of the split-fingered fastball, which basically made the ball do the same thing all of that grease and spit and stuff did.
Another reason: much like the powers of the Jedi in the days following the end the of Clone Wars, there were no masters around to teach the young padawans:
The advantage Perry, Sutton, and their contemporaries had on today’s pitchers was infrastructure. Sutton and Drysdale could and would exchange notes on how to beat hitters using doctored pitches. If you didn’t have a teammate who threw a spitter, your pitching coach may have known how to throw one. Or a pitcher on another team. Or a recently retired pitcher willing to share his trade secrets. You apprenticed at the feet of the masters, learned the ways of deception, then passed your own knowledge on to the next generation. But Sutter’s emergence and the subsequent spread of the split-fingered fastball ate away at that support system. The incentive to throw a spitball dropped with a new weapon emerging, and then even if a pitcher wanted to learn to throw a spitball, there were far fewer teachers willing and able to show him how it was done.
That kind of stinks. But looking at it from a Moneyball perspective: in this saliva-barren environment, any pitcher who can master the fine art of the spitter will have a distinct advantage, no?
Keri talks about that too — and suggests some ways pitchers can maybe kinda sorta start doctoring balls in greater numbers than they currently are — but eh, let’s just forget that. It’s kinda gross.
Giants outfielder Angel Pagan has been diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain of his left hamstring which will leave him out of action for the next four to five days, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Pagan suffered the injury running the bases during Sunday’s game against the Mets.
The Giants are hopeful that Pagan will avoid needing a stint on the disabled list. For now, they intend to use a combination of Gregor Blanco and Mac Williamson in left field in Pagan’s absence.
Pagan, 34, was hitting well, compiling a .315/.366/.457 triple-slash line along with a pair of homers and stolen bases in 101 plate appearances.
Update #2 (8:33 PM EDT): Sandoval is expected to miss the rest of the season, ESPN’s SportsCenter tweets.
Update (8:06 PM EDT): Per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe, Sandoval will be undergoing a “significant” operation and faces a “lengthy” rehab.
Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval will undergo surgery on his left shoulder, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Sandoval visited Dr. James Andrews on Monday, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports. Sandoval had been on the disabled list since April 13 (retroactive to the 11th) with the shoulder injury.
Sandoval has had a tumultuous 2016 season. He showed up to spring training appearing to be in less than ideal shape. He proceeded to hit a meager .204 in 49 spring at-bats and lost out on the third base job to Travis Shaw. Sandoval went hitless with a walk in seven plate appearances to begin the regular season before the injury woes took hold.
The Red Sox haven’t yet released details, including the timetable for Sandoval’s recovery, so once that is known, we’ll provide updates.
The Reds have placed catcher Devin Mesoraco on the 15-day disabled list with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Rosecrans adds that Mesoraco and the Reds will discuss whether or not the catcher will undergo surgery.
To fill Mesoraco’s roster spot, the club called up catcher Ramon Cabrera from Triple-A Louisville. Tucker Barnhart is expected to start the lion’s share of games in Mesoraco’s absence.
Mesoraco was scuffling prior to the injury, as he was batting a mere .140/.218/.160 with only one extra-base hit and one RBI in 55 plate appearances.
Update #2 (6:53 PM EDT): Ravin released a statement through the players’ union. Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times provides it:
Update (6:35 PM EDT): MLB made the announcement.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports is reporting that Dodgers pitcher Josh Ravin will be suspended 80 games after testing positive for a banned substance. When it is made official by Major League Baseball, Ravin will be the sixth major league player to earn a suspension after testing positive, joining Dee Gordon, Chris Colabello, Abraham Almonte, Daniel Stumpf, and Jenrry Mejia.
Ravin, 28, hasn’t pitched this year as he broke his arm in a car accident during spring training, but was expected to return before the end of May. He debuted in the majors last season, making nine relief appearances for the Dodgers. He yielded seven runs on 13 hits and four walks with 12 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings. Ravin made 22 appearances for Triple-A Oklahoma City as well.
Ravin will be eligible to return in early August.