Dirk Hayhurst is not impressed with the hubbub over Jose Valverde’s possible/maybe spitball from last night. He’s actually not all that impressed with the spitball itself either, assuming it was one.
Because, as The Garfoose notes, only amateurs use spit anyway. Pros use sun screen or Fixodent or Firm Grip or shaving gel or Vaseline. For starters, anyway. If you’re into advanced doctoring …
Try Kramergesic or Red Hot. Burns a little, but it also leaves a nice slime in it’s wake. If you get asked about it, you can say it’s medicinal. Plus, a mixture of lube and sweat works far better than spit or snot… Unless you prefer snot, in which case, rub a little Red Hot in your nose and get it running good. Just don’t get it in your eyes or you’ll leave the game in tears regardless of your performance. Finally, there is always AstroGlide, or good old KY… Trust me, someone in the locker room has it.
Dirk says everyone does it. And it’s not just the guys like him (or the fictional Eddie Harris, whom he does quote, so don’t bother) who spent years trying to hang on who do it. This morning he tweeted that even Greg Maddux did. They all do, he says, if for no other reason than to give hitters one more thing to think about.
I’m inclined to believe an insider like Hayhurst. It’s still against the rules and the “everybody does it” defense doesn’t wash on a case-by-case basis even if it does put a given subject like throwing a spitter (or taking steroids for that matter) in greater context. But he’s probably right that our reaction to instances of guys getting caught with their hand in the Vaseline jar should be less “Oh my stars and garters!” and more “Heh, whaddaya know? Someone was obvious enough to get caught.”
The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.
After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.
But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.
- They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
- They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
- They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
- They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.
The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.
Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.