just absolutely wet as hell
August 27, 2019 12:13 PM   Subscribe

 
It's a very bad look.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:21 PM on August 27 [3 favorites]


I need a shower after reading that.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:21 PM on August 27 [3 favorites]


Does having moisture on your hands help you to pitch?
posted by subdee at 12:24 PM on August 27


I was wondering this very thing, after seeing Hunter Wood on tv a few weeks ago. This article is on point.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:27 PM on August 27


Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence!
posted by exogenous at 12:31 PM on August 27 [30 favorites]


Does having moisture on your hands help you to pitch?

At the very least, moisture is the essence of wetness. And wetness is the essence of beauty.
posted by Jpfed at 12:31 PM on August 27 [23 favorites]


Does having moisture on your hands help you to pitch?
WELL that is an interesting question. There's some suggestion in the first few paragraphs of the article that Buchholz in particular is using the wetness to cover up the application of a "foreign substance" to the ball. I.e., he may be throwing spitballs and using the fact that he is soaking wet to hide whatever greasy lubricant he is treating the ball with.

You're also not allowed to lick your fingers on the mound and touch the ball, and he says straight up that he uses the water in his hair to get some moisture on his fingers. This is a pretty minor form of spitball and against the rules but not something anyone is really getting worked up about. IIRC, you're allowed to step off the mound and lick your fingers. So this is a pretty minor, technical infraction.

Actually greasing the ball with Vaseline or similar will get you ejected from the game and can lead to suspensions, or, if you're really good at it, a place the Hall of Fame. Just ask famed spitballer Gaylord Perry. It is, oddly, the kind of cheating that is considered part of the game.

But a lot of the wet players named in the article aren't even pitchers.
posted by chrchr at 12:36 PM on August 27 [13 favorites]


It’s very Aeron Damphair.

“They don’t want you licking your fingers on the mound, he told the Boston Globe.

LOL
posted by sallybrown at 12:38 PM on August 27 [2 favorites]


chrchr: Actually greasing the ball with Vaseline or similar will get you ejected...

Well, so what if your hair is just, like suuuper greasy, though? Like if a pitcher doesn't wash his hair for three days before a game, and then gets that nasty ol' hair wet after each inning? The stuff'd be like old-fashioned pine tar on his fingers!
posted by wenestvedt at 12:57 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]


MLB is kind of looking the other way on pine tar these days, with the blessing of not just pitchers who like that it gives them more control, but hitters who'd prefer not to be domed by a pitcher who loses their grip on a 98mph heater.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:12 PM on August 27 [9 favorites]


If this keeps up, I look forward to a compilation each fall of the season's Hair Highlights/Lush Lettuce/Salad Shooters/Flow Shows akin to the annual Minnesota State High School All Hockey Hair Team videos.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:20 PM on August 27 [9 favorites]


MLB is kind of looking the other way on pine tar these days, with the blessing of not just pitchers who like that it gives them more control, but hitters who'd prefer not to be domed by a pitcher who loses their grip on a 98mph heater.

I understand why the league does this and why everyone is ok with it, but at the same time maybe if you can't aim your 98 mph heater without using tack then maybe you shouldn't be throwing it at 98 mph.
posted by The Notorious SRD at 1:36 PM on August 27 [4 favorites]


"maybe if you can't aim your 98 mph heater without using tack then maybe you shouldn't be throwing it at 98 mph"

That's the same as the steroids argument: the first guy who stops using pine tar and loses either velocity or control is going to quickly lose his roster spot to a minor-league guy who does use pine tar. The game demands consistent high-90s pitches these days, and if you can't do it, someone else will find a way.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:53 PM on August 27 [9 favorites]


That's the same as the steroids argument: the first guy who stops using pine tar and loses either velocity or control is going to quickly lose his roster spot to a minor-league guy who does use pine tar. The game demands consistent high-90s pitches these days, and if you can't do it, someone else will find a way.

Unless the league becomes more aggressive about pitchers doctoring the ball.

I'm a firm believer that 'three true outcome' baseball isn't all that entertaining to watch and it isn't in dispute that style of play has hit a peak in today's game (the rabbit ball doesn't help but that's not the point of the FPP). Two of those outcomes, HR and K, are increasing in part due to the increase in pitch speed and break.

If the league cracked down on players using tar, maybe you'd see pitchers forced to sacrifice speed for the sake of control. If so, maybe you'd see more balls in play. I think it would improve the game.
posted by The Notorious SRD at 2:07 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]


> If the league cracked down on players using tar, maybe you'd see pitchers forced to sacrifice speed for the sake of control. If so, maybe you'd see more balls in play. I think it would improve the game.

I'm with you that today's game is less enjoyable to watch than the game of 10 years ago when more balls were put into play, but do you really think it would play out this way? Setting aside the very inconvenient fact that hitters would be in more danger during the transition, I just don't see pitchers dialing back their velo just to avoid a mistake or two that hits a batter. Umpires really only have two judgements they can make about a hit batsman, which are (a) it was a mistake, and (b) it was on purpose. They'd now need to consider (c) it was a mistake, but this particular pitcher doesn't have enough command to throw at that velocity. I do not see this as a very easy call to make.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:43 PM on August 27


...the game of 10 years ago when more balls were put into play...

Do you have evidence of that? My impression is that all sorts of hitting records are being set this year, and that pitchers are having a tough season. Justin Verlander is convinced that the balls are doctored to produce those results.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:59 PM on August 27


At the very least, moisture is the essence of wetness. And wetness is the essence of beauty.

You're dead to me, son. You're even more dead to me than your dead mother.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:09 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]


At the very least, moisture is the essence of wetness. And wetness is the essence of beauty.

Thales? Is that you?
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:19 PM on August 27 [3 favorites]


Do you have evidence of that? My impression is that all sorts of hitting records are being set this year, and that pitchers are having a tough season. Justin Verlander is convinced that the balls are doctored to produce those results.

Some of it comes down to a definition of terms, but I went ahead and did the math. So far this year, there have been 150,991 plate appearances. Of those, 34,334 ended in a strikeout, 12,815 ended in a walk, and 5,512 were home runs, almost all of which were never anywhere near the field of play, so those don't count, either. That leaves 98,330 times when the ball was put into play (ignoring edge cases like inside-the-park-home runs and ground-rule doubles), which is 65.1% of all plate appearances. The equivalent number in 2018 was 66.3%. In the smattering of other post-war years I checked, it was in the low 70s. In the deadball era, it was over 80%. I'd be pretty shocked if 65.1% of batting attempts ending in a fielding play isn't the lowest of all time.

It turns out Baseball Reference has some helpful charts. The league-wide walk rate is higher than it's been in a while, but well within historical norms. The big changes here are that strikeouts have gone from about 6.5 per team per game 20 years ago to 8.72 this year, with every year since 2008 breaking the previous year's record for highest strikeout rate ever, and that home runs have finally surpassed the late 90s boom, with a rate of 1.4 per team per game, which is basically 50% more than it was in the 70s and 80s and also representing the highest rate of all time by a fairly substantial margin.
posted by Copronymus at 3:32 PM on August 27 [5 favorites]


> Do you have evidence of that? My impression is that all sorts of hitting records are being set this year, and that pitchers are having a tough season. Justin Verlander is convinced that the balls are doctored to produce those results.

The records that are being broken are mostly home run records. Home runs are, by definition, not balls in play. :)

I went through a similar exercise as Copronymus earlier this year, and posted my thoughts about the changing offensive environment here. The chart shows the long but steady decline toward fewer plays in which a fielder has to make a play, which is great if you want more pitcher's duels and dingers, but not as great if you like seeing more close plays at the plate or amazing double plays turned.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:40 PM on August 27 [2 favorites]


There's more to "foreign substances" than pine tar. Pine tar makes the ball tacky so the pitcher can get better grip, and I can see how that might help the pitcher to have better command and more safely wield a 98 mph fastball. It also allows for a higher spin rate, causing a sharper break on breaking pitches.

There's also the class of foreign substances related to making the ball slippery. I think that's what's alluded to with Buchholz in this article. A slippery ball can be made to slip off the pitcher's fingers so that it rotates much more slowly, yielding a pitch that breaks sharply and unpredictably. A knuckleball is a legal pitch that operates on the same principle, though a spitball can be thrown harder. A pitcher can also apply a gob of something to the ball so that it has a lopsided weight and aerodynamic balance, to change the way it breaks.
posted by chrchr at 4:50 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]


“Justin Verlander is convinced that the balls are doctored to produce those results“

Verlander and many others, but the way to get more balls in play is to deaden it, not liven it up.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:35 PM on August 27


baseball men are so gross and greasy and moist, shudder, this is not the way!!!
posted by ChuraChura at 6:07 PM on August 27


I object on all possible grounds.
posted by sugar and confetti at 11:19 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]


Actually greasing the ball with Vaseline or similar will get you ejected from the game and can lead to suspensions, or, if you're really good at it, a place the Hall of Fame. Just ask famed spitballer Gaylord Perry.

"Through the years, Perry's denials (about using a spitball) became a familiar and humorous part of the show. During a playoff game in 1971, a television reporter briefly sat down with the Perry family during a game Gaylord was pitching. After a few polite questions, Allison, Perry's five-year-old daughter was asked, "Does your daddy throw a grease ball?" Not missing a beat, she responded, "It's a hard slider."" (Link)
posted by gusottertrout at 12:19 AM on August 28 [4 favorites]


They'd now need to consider (c) it was a mistake, but this particular pitcher doesn't have enough command to throw at that velocity.

Which is "on purpose" - throwing a fastball you can't control is reckless endangerment.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:16 PM on August 28


Bah, it's part of the game between pitchers and hitters. Do you remember "Hit the Bull"? Nuke didn't understand the request but the batters sure did. And it isn't a new gambit: back in the 60s the Yankees played up Ryne Duren's control problems (and serious alcoholism) just to mess with hitters:
While warming up one day, he threw the ball wildly and it sailed over the head of his catcher and to the screen. “The fans got a big kick out of it and the sportswriters played it up,” Duren remembered. “So now and then I'd throw my first warm-up pitch onto the screen. [Coach] Frank Crosetti encouraged me to do it because he said it put a little extra fear in the opponents.” Duren's wildness took on a life of its own. When Jimmy Piersall was on-deck studying his pitches, Duren purposely threw at him knocking him down; thus another degree of wildness, one that endangered even the on-deck batter was born. ( SABR Bio project)

Part of hitting is being scared that you're going to get hit. Part of pitching is knowing you have to put the ball in an very small space guarded by a very large man with a club, plus the knowledge that your guys are going to have to hit next inning so you can't just drill everyone lest the favor be returned. There is balance here, but the technology is honing it to a very fine degree: slow motion video of each pitch available immediately, large scale analysis of pitch sequencing breaking down every pitcher's tendencies, the data on launch angles and spin rates that informs training and so on.

And the preposterous changes in human physiology in the athletes playing the game over the past generation has also been remarkable. The player heights are up a bit, but the weights and the strength that goes with it are completely different:
Between 1900-1970, the average height of a man in the US increased from 67 to 70 inches, and the height of baseball players went up by the same amount. However, the same doesn't quite appear to be true as far as weight goes. Sure, it has increased almost steadily, but the rate of increase has gone up sharply in the past couple of decades. Between 1940 and 1990, the average pitcher and hitter increased by only five pounds each. But in the past 20 years, batters have gained 20 lbs, and pitchers 25. (A study from 2010)
There'a a great graph near the end of that article that shows the weights taking off. Anyway, this was always hard, but it's much harder now because of the size and strength of the players involved so it takes every advantage to stay effective.
posted by Cris E at 5:52 AM on August 29


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