Was Jose Valverde throwing spitballs last night?

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I was alerted to this video via Twitter by … Dallas Latos?  Who I guess is Reds pitcher Mat Latos’ wife.  She has a blog at MLB saying so anyway. I sorta don’t care. The point of this post is the video, not who’s sending it around. And the point of the video is that it appears to show Jose Valverde doctoring up the baseball.

There are two videos, actually, one in slow motion one at full speed. They show Valverde taking the ball, put it in his glove, raising his pitching hand high in the air — classic magician’s misdirection move! — clearly working up some spit in his mouth and then bringing the glove with the ball to his face and hocking a loogie into the glove. Like, you can see the jaw muscles move and stuff.

First, video in slow motion:

Here it is at full speed:

The videos may be taken down by MLB soon. So below are a couple of captured stills. They don’t totally get it all, but know that the first one catches him in mid spit-creation:

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For the record, this came before the 1-2 pitch to Devin Mesoraco. The pitch resulted in a swinging strike. According to Brooks Baseball, the pitch was a fastball. It also had more rotation on it then the other three pitches he threw.

I’m not the vice president of major league baseball in charge of on-field affairs, so I can’t make any definitive ruling here and I’ll leave it as it stands. Two thoughts, though:

  • If it was a spitball, can anyone tell me why Valverde would even bother with Angel Hernandez behind the plate calling everything within a mile of the dish a strike? and
  • If it wasn’t a spitball, how awesome is it that Mat Latos’ wife is on Twitter stirring up crap? That would be epic, yes?

Have at it, everyone.

Video: Starling Marte refuses to take first base after being hit by pitch

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was hit on the hand by a Jack Flaherty pitch in the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Cardinals. Rather than take first base, Marte — who came to the plate with a runner on first base — insisted to home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman that the ball hit the knob of the bat, not his hand. Marte was allowed to continue his at-bat, though manager Clint Hurdle came out to discuss the ruling with Dreckman. Marte eventually grounded into a fielder’s choice. He then got caught attempting to steal second base and the Pirates scored zero runs in the inning.

According to Baseball Prospectus, a team that has runners on first and second with no outs is expected to score 1.55 runs. Having a runner on first base with one out yields 0.56 expected runs. Marte essentially cost his team a run by rejecting first base. Oops.