The Nationals and Rays may not exactly be sworn enemies, considering they’re in completely different leagues and see each other every few years. However, considering the pine tar shenanigans that occurred last night and the comments that followed afterwards, I doubt either team is willing to go on a bonding retreat or something of the sort.
After last night, baseball’s code and ethics are suddenly thrown into the spotlight in DC and in the baseball world. Yesterday, in the bottom of the eighth inning, Tampa Bay Rays reliever Joel Peralta came in to pitch. Before Peralta, a former National, even threw a pitch, Davey Johnson asked umpire Tim Tschida to check Peralta’s glove.
After Tschida checked Peralta’s glove, the glove was confiscated and Peralta was ejected for what Tschida said was a “significant amount” of pine tar in his glove. In the end, it seems to have worked out for the Rays. Reliever Jake McGee was called to pitch in place of the ejected Peralta and retired all three Nationals in order. The Rays went on to win the ballgame 5-4.
Now the glove is en route to New York to be checked by Major League Baseball, but this is far from over. After the game Rays manager Joe Maddon had a few thoughts of his own about what transpired.
“It was kind of a [chicken] move to go out there and do that under those circumstances. Insider trading right there, man. It’s bush. It’s bogus. That’s way too easy right there. If you’d done some really good police work and you noticed something from a distance, that’s distance. But that’s way too easy. That was set up on a tee for them.”
Was Davey Johnson tipped off by a National who had been with the team when Peralta was with the team?
After the game Johnson said, “It was a rumor that he liked a little pine tar. I was hesitant to do it…Well, he pitched here. I don’t think it’s a secret.”
None of the Nationals blatantly said who. In fact, in typical baseball-meets-controversy protocol, players had positive things to say about Peralta, their former teammate.
“Stand up guy. I don’t think he’s out there cheating, trying to get over on us or anything like that. But it’s unfortunate,” Ryan Mattheus said.
The fact that the substance on Peralta’s glove is illegal has no gray area, however should the Nationals have handled it the way they did? Did they break one of baseball’s unspoken code rules? In the end, getting Peralta ejected from the game didn’t benefit them in the long run. If the Johnson and the team felt the need to check Peralta in hopes of shaking the Rays up, the plan backfired. If they were grasping at straws in attempt to try anything to win, that method didn’t work. (None of this is to say this was the intended motive.)
If they were merely attempting to keep the playing field clean and even, they accomplished that. Cheating allows a slight (and sometimes crucial) advantage to the cheaters. Even if the methods are viewed as acceptable and were employed by Peralta and others before doesn’t justify the unfair edge.
Speculating on the motives of either side provides nothing substantial. The only certain thing is this will make for an interesting rest of the series. If there’s some brush backs and bean balls in the future, then here’s to hoping the Nationals and Rays players have quick reflexes.
Blast from the past:
Last night’s pine tar situation wasn’t the first time that had happened for the Nationals. Back in 2005 during interleague play, then Nationals manager Frank Robinson asked for Los Angeles Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly’s glove to be checked before Donnelly threw a pitch. (Robinson was tipped off by Nationals’ outfielder Jose Guillen.)
Pine tar was found on Donnelly’s glove by Tim Tschida (the same crew chief umpire in yesterday’s game) and Brendan Donnelly was thrown out of the game. But in 2005 it didn’t end with just verbal punches.
Both benches cleared and even Robinson and Angels manager Mike Scioscia had to be held back from each other.
One difference in that game: the Nationals went on to win.
- Jayson Werth is on track to return on schedule and maybe even earlier than expected. Werth may return in late July from the broken wrist he suffered on May 6.
- Drew Storen threw his first full bullpen session and is still on track for his expected return around the All-Star break.
- Henry Rodriguez began rehabbing with Class AAA Syracuse from his strained finger.
- Mark DeRosa (who left the team to be with his family following the death of his father) is back with the team to go through a full workout. He’ll begin rehabbing with Class A Potomac soon.
- Chad Tracy started playing catch and swinging since having surgery for a groin strain.