Move over Clay Buchholz. Marlins starter Alex Sanabia went old school on Monday, bypassing the sunscreen and rosin and simply hocking a big ol’ loogie on the baseball after giving up a home run to the Phillies’ Domonic Brown.
The rule regarding spitballs, 8.02, says this:
The pitcher shall not —
(a) (1) Bring his pitching hand in contact with his mouth or lips while in the 18 foot circle surrounding the pitching rubber. EXCEPTION: Provided it is agreed to by both managers, the umpire prior to the start of a game played in cold weather, may permit the pitcher to blow on his hand.
PENALTY: For violation of this part of this rule the umpires shall immediately call a ball. However, if the pitch is made and a batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a hit batsman or otherwise, and no other runner is put out before advancing at least one base, the play shall proceed without reference to the violation. Repeated offenders shall be subject to a fine by the league president.
(2) expectorate on the ball, either hand or his glove;
(3) rub the ball on his glove, person or clothing;
(4) apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball;
(5) deface the ball in any manner; or
(6) deliver a ball altered in a manner prescribed by Rule 8.02(a)(2) through (5) or what is called the shine ball, spit ball, mud ball or emery ball. The pitcher is allowed to rub the ball between his bare hands.
Expectorate means spit.
So Sanabia obviously violated the rule. But only Yahoo!’s Dave Brown attempted to put this in context:
Sanabia’s case is different. In fact, he loaded up the ball so quickly after Brown’s at-bat, and appeared to rub the ball with such force, it’s hard to imagine the ball not being all-but dried by the time he threw his next pitch to Delmon Young. Did he really get any extra drop or action on the ball because of his saliva? He had two strikeouts the rest of the game, if that’s any indication.
Sanabia spit on the ball after Domonic Brown hit a home run for the Phillies’ only run of the game. Brown was still rounding the bases when Sanabia spit, and it was at least 20 seconds before the next pitch, a ball, was thrown– Sanabia spent most of that time rubbing the new baseball down, presumably to get a better grip. In the GIF and on both broadcasts, you could see him angrily rubbing the ball, an act that will eventually make it dry… and grippy (boy ain’t that the truth). While illegal, it certainly doesn’t seem that his intent was to throw a spitter. And, if we’re being honest, Cliff Lee breaks some of these rules every time he goes to his mouth, and blows on his hand.
There are two theories on how, or why, a spitball works: 1) placing a bit of moisture or foreign substance on one side of the ball will cause it to spin in a strange manner and 2) many old-timey players say it’s simply a matter of causing the first and second fingers to slip off the ball before the thumb when releasing the pitch. You could argue that Sanabia was gunning for option 2 with his giant spit, but you can’t argue that him going to his mouth is the reason the Phillies suck. They have been shut out six times this season and, last night, were held hitless by Ryan Webb, A.J. Ramos and Chad Fucking Qualls for the two and two-thirds innings after Sanabia left the game. Sanabia going to his mouth also isn’t the reason why Delmon Young is too fat to field. It’s not the reason why Charlie Manuel has lost his mind. It’s not the reason why Ruben Amaro has no idea how to build a team. It’s not the reason why the $144 million pitcher with a 4.45 ERA and a lackluster strikeout-to-walk ratio is a big baby and storms out of the clubhouse after falling to 1-7.