The shine on Clay Buchholz's arm during his May, 1, 2013 start is drawing a lot of discussion. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Inside The Feud

During Boston station, WEEI’s Mutt and Merloni broadcast, the topic of former Toronto Blue Jays minor league pitcher, Dirk Hayhurst‘s, comments came up.  In case you missed it, here’s the tweet.

Part of the fun of living south of Boston, is you get to listen to these broadcasts and you get to call in without having your phone riddled with international fees.  Caller after caller continued to discuss about how rosin, the substance proclaimed to be on Buchholz’s arm, was there to give him grip.  So, of course, I had to call in.  I couldn’t stand by and continue to hear about how this is just the “Blue Jays having sour grapes,” as radio show host Mike Mutnansky put it.  We discussed how there were pictures on LarryBrownSports.com of the substance on Buchholz’s arm.  This article by WEEI’s Alex Spier has both, Boston Red Sox coach John Farrell AND Buchholz discussing what the substance on the arm of Buchholz happened to be.  Hayhurst tweeted the same photograph I saw on LarryBrownSports.com of his arm here.  Have a gander.

It’s obvious, if you know what rosin looks like, that the substance on Buchholz’s arm may not be rosin.  In my time when I lived in Lowell, Massachusetts, I was fortunate to hang out with Buchholz when he was a player for the Lowell Spinners.  He’s a good guy.  He had a bit of a checkered past at McNeese State, but he’s a good guy.  So it’s tough for me to imagine that this guy would cheat nor would I want to see him cheat.  I wish him nothing but success.  That being said though, this whole situation of what Hayhurst said should not be written off.

The primary person that wrote Hayhurst’s credibility off was Hall of Famer and Red Sox NESN Colour Commentator, Dennis Eckersley.  Even when SHOULD BE Hall of Famer and 3 time World Series Champion pitcher Jack Morris confirmed Hayhurst’s thoughts, Eckersley continued to write them both off.  You see, “Eck” has never been one to mince words, and if you’ve never had the “pleasure” of listening to him speak, well… here you go

Morris and Eckersley have history as well.  In the 1992 ALCS, Eckersley got a key strikeout and reacted in a manner that drew the ire of Morris.  They had a somewhat public spat about it.  So this whole Buchholz controversy isn’t the first time these two have faced off.  But to write off the possibility of Buchholz cheating because Hayhurst and Morris are not Hall of Famers like Eck is, is petty.

While I cannot defend Hayhurst much, I will say this.  He’s 32 years old.  As mentioned before, he’s a pitcher.  He played baseball for a long time.  Career minor leaguer or not, the man is more-than-likely just as aware of how to doctor a baseball as much as a Hall of Fame pitcher.  So Eck’s argument is ridiculous.

If you are looking for credibility based off major league results, then Jack Morris is your man.  I think it’s not even debatable that if Eckersley was a starting pitcher his entire career, he would not be in the Hall of Fame.  Eck made his claim to fame by winning the Cy Young award and AL MVP (which in my opinion is a joke) in 1992, as well as for being a lights out closing pitcher during the back-end of his career for the Oakland Athletics and St.Louis Cardinals (no joke, he converted 85% of save opportunities.  He was that good.)  Morris, however, was a career starting pitcher.  A damn good one at that despite a couple of rough years on a lousy Detroit Tigers teams in the late 80s.  In 1992, it was debatable that Morris should have won Eckersley’s Cy Young trophy, since Morris led the league in wins (21) and won 78% of the games in which he started.  Want a more comprehensive look at Morris and Eckersley as starters?  Here

Dennis Eckersley

Year Tm Lg G GS Wgs Lgs ND Wchp Ltuf Wtm Ltm tmW-L% CG SHO QS QS% RS/GS RS/IP IP/GS
13 Yrs 430 361 149 130 82 27 40 189 172 .524 100 20 206 57% 4.4 4.3 6.9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/3/2013.

Jack Morris

Year GS Wgs Lgs ND Wchp Ltuf Wtm Ltm tmW-L% Wlst Lsv CG SHO QS QS% RS/GS RS/IP IP/GS
18 Yrs 527 251 182 94 53 61 302 224 .574 30 38 175 28 297 56% 4.9 4.9 7.1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/3/2013.

Looks to me Morris did it longer as a starter and as a starter, had a better win percentage as well.  So maybe Eck should pipe down a little (I’m sure if he read this, Eck would say “Who the hell are you?” and write me off as well.)  Morris is no slouch to the game of baseball.

Fact of the matter is the MLB rule book (3.02 if you’re interested) says a player should not be using rosin and then touching the ball immediately after.  Regardless of what MLB rule 8.02 says about how to properly use the rosin bag, what difference does it make if rosin is on your arm or on your uniform?  Rosin is a foreign substance that is not to be applied to the ball.  That might technically be considered cheating.  However, since it’s widely accepted by the game itself, it is not.

So was Hayhurst wrong in mentioning how “suntan lotion” shiny Buchholz was on a 61 degree, closed dome day?  Probably not anymore wrong than when New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi mentioned the Blue Jays might be stealing signs back in 2011 (Here’s the ESPN article.) Even Red Sox commentator Jerry Remy mentioned during a 2011 game against the Jays, about how the Blue Jays were possibly stealing signs.  This prompted Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to constantly switch them up (Ironically, this was during a Buchholz start.)  An unnamed player on an opposing team once lashed out at a fan he suspected of being the culprit while in the visiting team bullpen in Toronto.  Was there proof?  “Unfounded.”

Is this an act of showmanship by the Blue Jays?  Tough to imagine it is since, current Red Sox coach, Farrell was the Jays’ coach in 2011 when the “sign theft scandal” occurred.  What it comes down to is Hayhurst saw something.  Morris concurred with him.  All of Red Sox nation said “BS!  Don’t blame us because you guys suck and we don’t.”  There WAS something on Buchholz’s arm.  It’s not “unfounded.”   Whatever it was, it certainly made the battle between these 2 AL East rivals much more interesting.

Tags: Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz Toronto Blue Jays

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