John Baker

Mike Fiers

The Dodgers don’t care about what might have been on Mike Fiers’ glove during his no-hitter


Astros starter Mike Fiers no-hit the Dodgers on Friday night, but his achievement was quickly downplayed on social media when an image showing what appeared to be a shiny substance on the inside of the right-hander’s glove. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly never questioned it, nor did anyone else on the team, during the game.

Asked about the alleged substance after the game, Fiers said, “It could be different lighting or something,” as Jose de Jesus Ortiz reports.

Even after the fact, the Dodgers aren’t interested in pursuing the matter. Via Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:

“I don’t want to take anything away from his night,” outfielder Carl Crawford said.

Manager Don Mattingly also viewed the social media-driven controversy as a non-issue, saying, “I think it sounds like you’re whining if you look at it and talk about it.”

The consensus around the clubhouse was that a significant number of pitchers use something to improve their grip on the ball.

“I think it’s pretty much accepted, unless it’s blatantly obvious somebody’s doing it,” Mattingly said.

Fiers donated his cap and one of the balls he threw during the no-hitter to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Those and other items were authenticated, as Astros manager of authentication Mike Acosta tweeted on Friday night.

Yankees starter Michael Pineda was suspended for 10 games last season when he was caught using a “foreign substance” on his neck.

Former major league catcher John Baker, when asked to cite the percentage of pitchers who liked using a foreign substance, said, “100%.”

Must-click link: former major leaguer John Baker talks about how a gay teammate would be welcomed

Clubhouse door

Gotta hand it to Rob Neyer, Fox and the JABO folks for getting ex-major league catcher John Baker. His stuff has been interesting, well-written and insightful. There is so little actual real talk from former major leaguers — so much of it is just Schilling-style analysis that barely scratches the surface of what we really want to know about — that hearing Baker’s perspective has been fantastic.

The latest: in the wake of the gay marriage decision, Baker talks about how a gay teammate would be received in a major league clubhouse. The answer: like anyone else, eventually. There would be some weirdness at first but eventually the six-month-long game of dozens, the camaraderie, the antagonism and the way-too-close quarters that characterize the big league season would encompass a teammates’ gayness too.

Someone would make a joke about the gay guy missing the cutoff man and the gay guy would make a joke back about the bald guy missing a sign and the bald guy would make a joke about the dude who likes the crappy music not hustling. That’s if the team is winning. If they’re losing, that all happens with anger instead of joking. In other words: it’s just a thing. They’re all there for the baseball and would prefer to play it with guys who aren’t jerks. The other stuff is secondary. Interesting and something everyone would get used to, but it takes a back seat to the baseball and the non-jerk thing.

I’ll defer to Baker here, as he knows and because it flows pretty well with what we do know about how clubhouses work.

And I hope he’s right about it too.

Must-click link: Playing the game “the right way” is a relative thing

Tom Lynn -- Getty

Former major league catcher John Baker has a great article up over at Fox’s Just A Bit Outside. It’s about one of your favorite topics around here: “playing the game the right way.” and what it really means:

The longer I played baseball, the more I realized that across America, that cliché – Play the game the right way – actually means something very specific: Play the game MY way.

And that “my way” means something very different to different people everywhere. Specifically, he has a great anecdote about his time in the Dominican winter league, where the constant celebrations, bat flips and the sorts of things that could get a guy thrown at or punched in the big leagues is actually a sign of respect and love for the game to others:

The next day I asked some of the local players why they participated in what I’d been taught was excessive celebratory behavior. Their consensus answer was perfect and humbling. They explained that most of them hadn’t spent much time in school beyond fifth grade, and they practiced baseball all day because they didn’t want to chop sugar cane in the fields or do laundry at Casa De Campo, the main resort in town. Job opportunities were slim, and job opportunities with potential upside were nearly nonexistent. They weren’t flipping the bat to show up the pitcher. They were flipping the bat to show everyone watching that they appreciated where they were, and that they really, truly loved playing baseball. They pimped everything, and it was awesomely poetic.

He learned this from a Padres prospect who was also playing down in the Dominican and who showed him one excellent bit of celebratory flair after a homer in a winter ball game. You may be interested to learn who that prospect was. And it may change your perspective on what “playing the game the right way” really means.

Excellent piece by Baker. And a good reminder that the “right way” we’re so often told about is just one way. One way favored by guys who learned to play in one particular part of the world. Well, they have no monopoly on the “right way” and we should not expect anyone, let alone everyone else, to conform to it.