.gif: Alex Sanabia spitting on a baseball

After Domonic Brown hit a solo home run in the top of the second inning to tie the game at 1-1, Marlins starter Alex Sanabia received a new baseball from home plate umpire Sam Holbrook and promptly glazed it with spit as seen here:

Given the various gymnastics that can occur within MLB’s rules, there might be a loophole, but if my reading of the rules is correct, Sanabia violated Rule 8.02 (a)(2):

8.02
The pitcher shall not –

[...]

(2) expectorate [spit] on the ball, either hand or his glove;

You can watch the whole event here, with the infraction occurring about 15 seconds in.

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16 comments

  1. fenk

    May 21, 2013 12:57 AM

    whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  2. Ryan

    May 21, 2013 07:19 AM

    CHEATER!!!

  3. TomG

    May 21, 2013 07:51 AM

    Three points:

    1. I assume it is not your point that Sanabia’s spitting on the ball was the difference-maker in this game. If I’m wrong about that, my apologies.

    b. Pitchers these days routinely and openly – in a manner as blatant as Sanabia’s in the .gif above – stick their fingers in their mouths and rake the tips of ‘em along their tongues and then immediately rub up the ball. You can see this happen at least once in virtually every game. There may be some reason for doing this other than to apply spit to the ball – maybe modern day pitcher have rough cat-tongues and are just trying to scuff up their finger tips to get a better grip? – but it seems obvious to me that one possible reason for doing this is the most obvious one: to gather up a bit of spit and apply it to the ball in order to, y’know, cheat. But pitchers are never called on this, even though they make no attempt to hide it. And no, they don’t always, or even mostly, do it while off the mound, nor do they immediately “dry” their hands on their unies (or elsewhere) before rubbing up the ball. Regardless of what they may be trying to do, I think umpires should called them on it if for no other reason than appearance’s sake: It’s unseemly, vulgar and rude, like ruining everybody’s wonderful meal by farting loudly at the dinner table. Also? It’s fucking illegal. Unless one believes that the only way to apply spit to a ball is by grossly horking a loogie on it the way Sanabia did.

    III. A pitcher of Sanabia’s caliber could go out on the mound with a fully-loaded greasegun, 4 nail files, some industrial grade sandpaper, a personal nurse to inject him in the ass with performance-enhancing drugs between each pitch, AND Gaylord Perry’s personal, unpublished how-to manual on fucking up baseballs, and you – defining the collective “you”, here, as a ML baseball team stocked with even marginally competent offensive players – ought to be ashamed if you don’t score at least five runs off of him … even under those circumstances.

    BonusPointNumberFour. That’s three games in a row in which the Miami Marlins have not just defeated the Phillies, but embarrassed them. Which, really, is about three too many. I can live with a loss. But to be embarrassed ? By the Marlins? What, did the Astros sell the Marlins their Phillies-killing mojo as the last thing they did before going over to the AL?

  4. TomG

    May 21, 2013 08:05 AM

    “A rule change put into effect by the Official Playing Rules Committee this offseason allows a pitcher to go to his mouth on the mound, but not while he is touching the rubber. Previously pitchers were only allowed to touch their fingers to their lips and mouths off the mound, provided they wipe their hand before gripping the ball.”

    Didn’t realize this. My bad.

    Yet I don’t retract my rant.

    It’s a nonsensical rule change if your goal is to keep spit off the ball.

  5. Ryan

    May 21, 2013 09:41 AM

    There’s a big difference between hocking a loogy on the ball and putting your fingers in your mouth. I used to put my fingers in my mouth to actually get a better grip on the ball–especially when it was cold out. The dried spit was actually sticky.

  6. Phillie697

    May 21, 2013 10:46 AM

    “III. A pitcher of Sanabia’s caliber could go out on the mound with a fully-loaded greasegun, 4 nail files, some industrial grade sandpaper, a personal nurse to inject him in the ass with performance-enhancing drugs between each pitch, AND Gaylord Perry’s personal, unpublished how-to manual on fucking up baseballs, and you – defining the collective “you”, here, as a ML baseball team stocked with even marginally competent offensive players – ought to be ashamed if you don’t score at least five runs off of him … even under those circumstances.”

    This is why TomG is now my favorite commentor, LOL.

  7. Scott G

    May 21, 2013 12:00 PM

    Ryan,

    Isn’t that why it’s against the rules – because it gives you a better grip on the ball?

  8. Mister Twine

    May 21, 2013 07:06 PM

    As disgusting as the .gif is, I can’t…stop…watching…

  9. LTG

    May 21, 2013 09:54 PM

    Scott G,

    I’m pretty sure MLB cares more that spitballs can affect ball movement and deaden contact with the bat.

  10. LTG

    May 21, 2013 09:55 PM

    Is it weird that neither MLB nor ESPN has covered this yet?

  11. TomG

    May 22, 2013 04:13 AM

    There’s an article on the Phillies site noting that Charlie was okay with it:

    atmlb.com/119YnfU

  12. TomG

    May 22, 2013 04:33 AM

    An aside: When it comes to cheating, intent – which is notoriously hard to prove – is irrelevant. That’s why, when a guy tests positive for PEDs, his inevitable contention that he didn’t knowingly take those drugs – “Okay, granted, they were in my system, but I didn’t intend to take them; they must have been in that ‘supplement’ I bought at that totally aboveboard-looking bodaga in the Steroidtown part of Manhattan, just north of Tribeca. I’m a victim of coicumstance, I tells ya!” – earns him exactly nothing in terms of punishment reduction. The charge isn’t that he intended to take them; merely that they were in his system and, assuming he can’t prove someone dosed him or spiked his urine sample, he’s responsible for what he ingests. (Cf. Galvis’s press release claiming he had no idea how those PEDs got in his system. His punishment if he had known? 50 games. His punishment since he allegedly didn’t know? 50 games. es.pn/L2gOvv )

    Similarly, claiming you were just doing it to “get a better grip” is no defense for horking half a lung’s worth of loogy on a ball. Otherwise, pitchers would just claim that all the time. “O,” sez our hypothetical ump in our conveniently-worded hypothetical example, “you were just doing it to improve your grip? Well, by all means, carry on then. In fact, lemme help you; you must be pretty dry by now since you’ve been going to the well all night, and, lucky you, I’m feeling particularly phlegmy tonight …”

    It’s irrelevant. The rule says it’s prohibited and makes no mention of extenuating circumstances based on alleged “intent”.

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