Dirk Hayhurst: Jose Valverde is an amateur when it comes to spitballing

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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.”

Braves’ prospect Ronald Acuna wins AFL MVP, helps clinch AFL Championship Game

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The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.

At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.

Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.

From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.

Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.