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Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Mariano Rivera stuff obviously struck a nerve today. For what it's worth, I stand by my posts on it, both here and at NBC. There was a video that showed something interesting. I raised some questions about it and doubted whether simply saying "Mariano would never do such a thing" was enough to put the kibosh on the inquiry. I qualified everything I said with statements about how the video was not conclusive and how better angles would be needed before something conclusive could be said. If there was an actual accusation in my comments somewhere, someone will have to point it out to me. MLB at least felt it necessary to take a quick look. When they did and weighed in later, I posted an update quite quickly. All in a day's bloggy work.
But clearly not everyone agrees. Question: was it illegitimate to post links to the video and ask the questions I asked in the first place? I don't think so, but I'm curious for your thoughts. Not about Mariano -- that's over, and I'm quite content to accept MLB's view on it, especially in light of the still photos that appeared later in the day. I want to know whether it was wrong to even raise the issue in the first place, and if so, why so. The one reason people cited over and over today -- that it was Mariano Rivera we're talking about here, and he's not worthy of accusation -- doesn't convince me. If we had a picture of Mother Teresa raising a baseball bat over the head of a cowering man, would we not ask what was happening? The problem, it seems, only comes if you (a) immediately jump to a conclusion that she's beating the guy without acknowledging that more could be going on that first meets the eye; or (b) disregard actual, later evidence which debunks the first impression created by the picture.
Two things lead me to ask these questions. First is the fact that I got a freakin' death threat over all of this. It's been deleted, but a commenter at NBC, after multiple posts in which he wished for me to die of horrible diseases, finally came out and said that he hoped someone killed me. Hey-o! I'm used to the Yankee nonsense I willingly stir up over there turning ugly, but this was beyond even my comfort level. There's no need to tell me that was uncalled for -- believe me, I know it -- but was this merely a moron at work, or was the post (which was nearly identical to the post below here) beyond my usual taunting? I honestly want your opinion.
The second, and more substantial reason I ask is because I'm reminded of the Kenny Rogers affair from three years ago. You'll recall that cameras captured some schmutz on Rogers' hand. It disappeared an inning or two later. It was quickly looked into and then dismissed by MLB. In all of that, it was much like today's business. The difference: Mariano Rivera has a better reputation than Kenny Rogers, and no one thought to say that Kenny Rogers was above such questions.
Was it legitimate to raise questions about Rogers and not Mariano? Was it legitimate or illegitimate for both? What are the rules here? Like I said, I think my posts were within the realm of the acceptable but obviously others disagree. Even those who don't want me dead.
If you're all tired of this, move along. There's baseball happening. If not, though, I think it might be a worthy conversation to have in the comments.
I suppose this closes the case:
The Commissioners Office reviewed available video and still photography from Mariano Rivera spitting toward a baseball in ALCS Game 3 and “found no evidence that Rivera spit on the ball,” a spokesman for the commissioner told the Post.
Kudos for MLB to looking into it. As I said in the earlier post, there was certainly nothing conclusive about the video -- another angle clearly showing spit smacking the ball would be the minimum necessary for this to be taken to the next level -- but it was interesting enough that it warranted scrutiny.
Check out the video here. I'll hear all evidence to the contrary, but that looks to me like he (a) looks up to see if anyone is watching; and (b) spits right on the damn ball.
Is that the secret to the unhittable cutter?
UPDATE: The Yankees' bad day in multimedia continues . . .
UPDATE #2: A Q&A on Mariano:
Q: Is Mariano definitely spitting on the ball?
A: Hard to say. Looks like it to me, but the cutaway is quick and the angle could be deceiving. I'm just going with my first impression of what the video and photo show. I'd kill for another angle of this.
Q: Do you actually throw a spitball by, you know, spitting on the ball?
A: It's not the most traditional way -- according to everything I've read merely wetting the fingers is more common -- but it's certainly been done. Really, anything that either (a) adds a viscous fluid to the ball to alter its flight; or (b) lubes it up to decrease friction upon release, thereby increasing the spin and thus the ultimate drop is sufficient.
Q: If it is a spitball, why would Rivera be so obvious about it? He's a smart guy. He'd try to hide it better, wouldn't he?
A: Maybe so. But isn't it just as valid to say that Rivera, one of the most talented pitchers ever, never had to use a spitball before, and thus if he is now, he's less likely to be practiced at it than a guy who had to cheat just to keep his job?
I have no idea what he's doing here -- and I simply don't want to believe that Rivera was throwing a spitter, because I've always admired and respected the guy -- but it doesn't seem satisfying to simply say "Mariano would never do this, so he didn't do it." The video is very, very interesting. It may be completely debunked by another angle -- and if anyone has one, please send it ASAP and I'll update. But for now, it's all we have.
I know I have a reputation for baiting Yankees fans, but I am sincere in asking whether or not Rivera was doing this. I don't know, and I'm open to alternate interpretations and evidence.
(thanks to Jason Epstein for the heads up)
Angels 5, Yankees 4: Girardi, on the decision to replace Dave Robertson with Alfredo Aceves:
Joe Girardi: The bullpen goes up to eight. Look, right across the board, eight, eight, eight and...
Phillies 5, Dodgers 4: Um, L.A.? You're supposed to have the good bullpen. Bruntlett scored the tying run, but let us all remember that it was Matt Stairs who drew the walk that called for a pinch runner to begin with. Matt Stairs is the best. 3-1 Phillies. I hate to cut this short, but I have a long day of "See! I told U! No 1 believed in us! We're the champs, dood! Your stupid 4 picking the Dooshers to win anything. Get a new job" comments over a the Blue Network. And they'll still come when I write a piece talking about just how sharp the Phillies are right now, and how well-managed and confident they are and everything.