Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tale of two scandals

Down here in Raysland, UmpGate is winding down . . . sort of. If you haven't been following it -- the other day the Rays were playing the White Sox. Reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price, who has been struggling with a 5 game winless streak, was battling to finally get off the schneid.

Looking agitated on the mound, Price didn't get the punch out he wanted in the sixth inning but got a ground out instead. On his way off the mound, passing by the home plate umpire, Price heard Tom Hallion say something. And that's where we get the he said, he said moment.

Price says Hallion swore at him. Hallion says he only said "Just throw the ball over the plate." Price heard the f-word in there. Hallion called Price a liar for saying he cursed at him. The Rays bench erupted, players flocked to Twitter to vent, implying Hallion was a "coward," a "liar," needed "accountability," etc.

MLB handed down some puny fines -- $1000 each to several players and Hallion, and hoped that would settle it.

Here's my thing -- we all curse too much these days. And often let bad words slip out without self editing. Hallion may have cursed and not realized it. He may have doubted he would let one fly during a game. So, he may be acting completely honest in his righteous denials in this instance.

On the other side of the coin, we all hear things we expect to hear. We're all aware of selective hearing, how many times does our mind finish sentences for us before the words are uttered? That's part of where the wait . . . what? comes from. A noisy stadium, crowd in full throat, Hallion starts a sentence and Price's mind finishes what he's expecting to hear. Perhaps someone in the stands was cursing and Price simply hears what he expects the ump is going to say.

We'll never know. There's no audio, or video one way or the other and both parties are adamant in their stances on the subject. Price is still demanding an apology from Hallion even though it hasn't been proved that he said anything wrong.

I lay part of the blame here at manager Joe Maddon's feet. Since he came to the Rays, Maddon has nurtured an atmosphere of perpetual victimhood amongst the players. Every call, every play, every freak occurrence is somehow proof that everyone is conspiring to hold the Rays down. A Rays pitcher hits an opposing batter -- ball just slipped. An opposing pitcher hits a Rays player -- its a deliberate hit put out by the manager. Better strike zones for the opposing pitcher, blah, blah, blah . . .

*sigh* It's tedious, to say the least. Oddly enough, Maddon himself is one of the people trying to brush this mess under the carpet and get on with things.

As far as the Red Sox are going -- pitcher Clay Buccholz, finally healthy is having the best year of his career. Against the woeful, cellar dwelling Blue Jays, Buccholz mowed through the line up for his league leading 6th win and lowered his ERA to 1.01

But Jays color guy, Dirk Hayhurst decided that Buccholz was cheating because . . . wait for it . . . he touched his sleeve between pitches! Oh the scandal! Then this douchebag doubles down on that by sending a tape to former pitcher Jack Morris, who quickly agrees.

Never mind that Buccholz can be seen putting rosin (a legal substance) on his sleeve during the game. Never mind that he can be seen pouring water on his head between innings. Never mind that no actual players in the game, nor the umpires had any reason to question Buccholz doctoring balls in ANY of his starts this year. No, these two assholes can't get over the fact that their team paid wildly to win the division and the World Series and got a crappy 10-21 joke instead.

Nope, it has to be that Buccholz is cheating. Former Sox pitcher Curt Schilling pointed out on television the other night, that the problem with throwing a spitter is that you can't control the ball. No one, not the pitcher or the catcher knows where the ball is going. If you watch any of Buccholz' games, you can see he's painting the corners with amazing precision. Can't do that throwing a spit ball.

Thankfully, the guys are laughing this mess off. Bottles of lotion, vaseline, etc., are appearing on lockers during interviews.

Man, only 30 games into the season and so much drama already.

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