Craig Calcaterra

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Sal Perez had pine tar on his shin guard last night. No one cares.

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KANSAS CITY — The above photo was tweeted around by many during last night’s game. It’s Salvador Perez and his shinguard and what appears to be pine tar. I guess given that it’s Perez we’re talking about it could be some sort of fluid from a severely injured internal organ he’s nonetheless playing though, but it’s probably pine tar.

Other than the retweets and some not-to0-serious chatter, no one really cares. Maybe it’d be a bigger thing if last night’s game didn’t have so many other things going on with it, but this is about as far from a controversy any putative foreign substance incident has been in recent memory. It’s no Bullfrog Sunscreen-gate and far from L’affaire Kenny Rogers. Ned Yost dismissed it after last night’s game. More significantly the Mets — who would be the ones to make an issue out of it if an issue was to be made — laughed the matter off. Indeed, just now, before Game 2, Collins was asked about the pine tar, whether he cared and whether his players do it. Collins said “I don’t know if Travis [d’Arnaud] does it. He probably does. Throughout baseball, everyone does.” He went on to talk about how it’s a benefit to the hitters, ultimately, in that they don’t have to stand in against a pitcher with a bad grip.

This all falls under the same general ethical umbrella that the sunscreen-on-pitchers-arms stuff does. As we learned back when Clay Buchholz was making headlines about this two years ago, almost all pitchers use something to get a better grip and, really, no one cares. Either for the stated reason — what Collins said about better grip — or for the more plausible reason: the pine tar or whatever it is does give the pitcher an advantage but their pitchers are doing it too, so there’s no percentage in getting into accusations over it during a game. Heck, Yogi Berra was doing this for Whitey Ford before your mom was born. If Yogi did it, who are you to throw stones?

People like bright red lines when it comes to matters of cheating, but it doesn’t really work like that in practice. It’s dangerous to have situational ethics, but in some situations ethics are practically and somewhat understandably malleable. If the Mets are willing to look the other way — and they were, either because they simply don’t care or because their catchers have gunk on their shinguards too — I’m not sure where the mandate to start inspecting shinguards comes from, even if pine tar on shinguards is not, strictly speaking, kosher.

All I know for sure is that if there are closeups of Sal Perez’s shinguards tonight they’ll be as clean as a whistle. I mean, even if no one cares, why be obvious about it?

Don Mattingly and the Marlins are “in serious talks”

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Jon Heyman reports that the Marlins are in “serious talks” with Don Mattingly to be their next manager.

Mattingly interviewed in Miami on Monday and Heyman says “everyone’s expectation is that it will happen.” According to Heyman, Mattingly was owner Jeffrey Loria’s “top choice from the start.” Given baseball’s distaste for teams breaking news during the World Series, it’s possible that things are all but done, actually, and that the Marlins are just waiting for a break in the action to break the news.

Mattingly managed the Dodgers for five years, compiling a record of 446-363 and winning the NL West title each of the past three years.

Billy Joel to sing the National Anthem for Game 3

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I didn’t know that person who sang the Anthem last night. I don’t know who is singing it tonight yet but I probably won’t know them either. This is all on me, of course, as I am old and out of touch with most things after, oh, 2001 or so.

So thank goodness for this: Billy Joel will sing the National Anthem prior to Game 3 Friday night.

Not that I’m big Billy Joel fan, really. But familiarity is nice with such things. And no matter what else you can say about Billy Joel, he’s not likely to use it as an opportunity to show off like some new pop flavors of the month do. He’s Billy Joel. He really doesn’t have anything to prove to us.

Joel is a huge Mets fan, of course:

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Um, never mind that. He’s totally a Mets fan. And this season the Mets played “Piano Man” as a sing-along in the middle of the 8th inning. Which is weird as, at bottom, it’s a song about a guy being in a depressive rut while trying to figure out what to do next with his life. Maybe that’s more Mets than “Sweet Caroline.” I dunno.

This is not Joel’s first rodeo at the World Series. He sang the anthem at Game 1 of the 2000 World Series between the Mets and Yankees. Indeed, if the Martians ever invade New York and demand that the city provide it with an official minstrel to sing as the citizens are ushered off to the Martian POW camps, Joel will probably be the one they send out. He’ll do a couple verses of “New York State of Mind” while everyone waits for the Avengers to come save the day or what have you.