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 Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.