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Greetings from The Booth!
We start this week’s post with Fathers Day wishes to all the Dads out there. Whether it’s playing a round of golf, grilling a perfect ribeye, or being “allowed” to watch the Nats or the US Open, here’s hoping your day is perfect! Thanks for all the sage advice over the years that you’ve handed down from your La Z Boy, like “go ask your mom.”
In all seriousness, I thank my Dad for things like my sense of humor, my work ethic, and teaching me at an early age to love math by showing me how to calculate batting averages and ERAs. We may disagree on some things, as all fathers and sons do, but we can always find common ground in sports, especially baseball.
Speaking of baseball, I had to chuckle when I saw this week that MLB was going to crack down on pitchers doctoring the baseball. I did not realize that this season has so far seen record strikeout numbers, as well as the lowest collective batting average in a half-century. Pitchers who are caught applying a foreign substance or doctoring the baseball will be ejected and suspended for 10 games.
I laughed because for as long as there has been baseball, pitchers have scuffed, cut, or applied things like Vaseline or KY Jelly to baseballs. The spitball was in fact legal until 1920, with several “spitballers” grandfathered in and allowed to practice their craft beyond that year. Some doctors of the baseball are looked upon as folk heroes and are even in the Baseball Hall Of Fame.
One such pitcher was Gaylord Perry, who won 314 games in his MLB career. His exploits are chronicled in his famous autobiography, “Me And The Spitter.” Perry is quoted as saying that he tried everything on a baseball except salt and pepper and chocolate sauce. But Perry, who was only caught once in his 22-year major league career, thrived on making batters think the greaseball or spitter was coming, as opposed to actually throwing it. A batter just didn’t know for sure.
I’m not sure how to reconcile my indignant anger at the Astros’ Jose Altuve for “allegedly” wearing a buzzer under his jersey to alert him on what pitch was coming, with my acceptance of Whitey Ford scuffing a baseball to get a batter out. Maybe it’s the technology angle, which just seems like cheating to me. Perhaps it’s because I was a pitcher. Or maybe it’s my nostalgia for the characters from baseball’s colorful past.
It’s a slippery slope for sure, probably due to the Vaseline on the ball.
Until the next visit, Happy Fathers Day from The Booth!