x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

MLB: Cheating has to be challenged on the field, not in the booth

If a player like Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz starts to surge unexpectedly, it's easy to accuse him of cheating but the truth will never be revealed until he is officially challenged on the field, writes Gregg Patton.

Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz stymied the Toronto Blue Jays this week and is off to a 6-0 start this season. Mark Blinch / Reuters
Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz stymied the Toronto Blue Jays this week and is off to a 6-0 start this season. Mark Blinch / Reuters

The phenomenal start to the season by Clay Buchholz, a former phenom known more recently for his mediocrity, must have some logical explanation, right?

Two Toronto Blue Jays broadcasters – former Major League Baseball pitchers, Dirk Hayhurst and Jack Morris – came up with one: he is cheating.

After Buchholz mowed down the Jays, improving to 6-0 with a 1.01 earned-run average (ERA), Hayhurst tweeted that the Boston Red Sox pitcher was loading the ball with "slick-em" stored on his left forearm.

Morris said he watched tape and concluded that Buchholz was wetting his pitching fingers with moisture from his jersey, hair, et cetera, and throwing an illegal spitball.

Buchholz insisted he put rosin only on his forearm, and was throwing the same legal pitches he threw in compiling a 3.73 career ERA over seven seasons.

The truth? The only way to know is if an opposing player or manager, or umpire, seeks an inspection of Buchholz on the mound. So far, no one on the field has made that challenge, which may simply mean no one on the field wants this can of worms opened. On anyone.

Pitchers finding ways to "grip" the baseball is as timeless as hitters figuring out ways to "improve" their bats. Ironic that the debate raged the same week that an auction house announced it was selling a game-used Mickey Mantle bat from 1964.

An X-ray revealed the bat was hollowed out, with cork in it.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE