ukrneal wrote:Article from the New York Times (very interesting):
ST. LOUIS, Oct. 23 — Gaylord Perry, that master of doctoring a baseball who was just as much a master of making batters think he was doctoring it, has no doubt about what Kenny Rogers smeared across the palm of his left hand in the World Series.
Gaylord Perry, an admitted spitballer, says he knows what was on Kenny Rogers’s hand.
Perry laughed at Rogers’s explanation that it was dirt.
Perry, the man who was defined by the spitball, and by all of the histrionics that accompanied throwing it or not throwing it, watched Rogers pitching for the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. Perry said he immediately detected that the brown smudge on Rogers’s hand was from a well-known sticky substance.
“Oh, well, he probably just used a little pine tar,” said Perry, sounding like a convivial, convincing Southern lawyer. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”
Then Perry, who lives in North Carolina, said Rogers could have kept his hand from getting discolored and kept his secret had he selected a different brand.
“If he got some North Carolina pine tar, that’s clear,” Perry said in a telephone interview. “You’ve got to know what you’re doing.”
For 22 entertaining years, Perry applied spit, Vaseline, baby oil, hair tonic and several other wet substances to the surface of the ball to help make it move more. Perry would adjust his cap, tug at his sleeves and rub his face and neck before unleashing a pitch, forcing hitters to think he was loading the ball with a foreign substance every time.
Since Perry vigorously stumps for pitchers who are seeking advantages, he was giddy about what he felt Rogers had done in taming the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-1, in Game 2. Perry said that pitchers use pine tar in chilly weather because the ball is slick and the stickiness allows them to have better control. The wind chill in Detroit was 30 degrees at game time.
But Perry said he never used pine tar to deface a ball; he preferred rosin, which is legal, to get a better grip. Perry, a Hall of Fame pitcher who won 314 games, does not blame Rogers for saying the substance on his hand was dirt. But neither does Perry believe Rogers.
“If it was dirt, something had to make it stick there,” Perry said. “Dirt isn’t just sticking there in cold weather.”
Television close-ups indicated that Rogers had something on his hand in the first inning, but he washed it off before the second and pitched seven more scoreless innings. Rogers reiterated on Monday that it was not pine tar. “It was mud, rosin, sweat and spit,” Rogers said. “It’s always there.”
As Rogers was surrounded by about 75 reporters, Todd Jones, Detroit’s closer, stood 50 feet away and said that he has used pine tar on balls during his career. Jones, who writes a column for The Sporting News, wrote in 2005 that he used it every time he pitched for the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Jones said the substance helped him grip the ball in the 5,000-foot elevation in Denver.
“My situation was, when I was in Denver, I had to have it or I wasn’t going to be worth anything,” Jones said. “In 2003, I had an 8 E.R.A. It didn’t help. It’s not an advantage. You’re just trying to break even.”
Jones said he stored the pine tar in his glove or on his hand or in other undisclosed places. Pitchers who are caught using pine tar on balls are ejected and suspended for 10 games.
“This is not brand new, guys,” Jones said. “It’s an accepted thing. I think there’s a difference between pine tar and Vaseline.”
Perry said that Rogers, by using pine tar, was not cheating and was “taking advantage” of a situation. Even though Rogers briefly had something on his hand, Perry said what might be even more relevant is what he planted in the hitters’ heads.
“He did his thing,” Perry said. “He got all the Cardinals thinking he was doing something with the ball. That’s half the game right there.”
As Perry watched Rogers on television, he felt a kinship with the pitcher who has morphed into an October force by throwing 23 scoreless innings in a row.
“I’m proud of him, man,” Perry said. “He did it to them. Good for him. Now you’ll have a thousand high school kids using pine tar, too.”
Perry joked that if the Cardinals wanted to know what was on Rogers’s hand, a hitter should have “just walked out and shook his hand to see if it was sticky.” Perry said the best strategy for the hitters would have been to move up as much as possible in the batter’s box and hit Rogers’s pitches before they broke.
When Rogers was asked about Perry, he called him a “great pitcher,” but he did not address the slippery method that helped make Perry memorable. Meanwhile, Perry reveled in discussing Rogers. Perry noted that he has white pine trees on his property and offered to send Rogers some of that North Carolina pine tar.
“This will probably stay with him,” Perry said. “It’s like the spitball has been for me. It’s stayed with me for the rest of my life.”
Articles like this make you think that there are a ton of pitchers doing this right now. Todd Jones and Perry really make it seem like it's not a big deal and that a majority of pitchers have doctored the ball one way or another throughout their major league careers.
I'll admit that I hadn't thought of the "mind game" that is part of doing something like this, as Perry pointed out in there. Just making the opposing batters think you're doing something to the ball could be enough to throw them off.