Bock’s Score: Finger Stickin’ Good

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

In the theater of the absurd previously known as Major League Baseball, the umpires have been deputized by commissioner Rob “Let’s try something different’’ Manfred to conduct stop and frisk searches of the pitchers.

The first week of this law and order operation has led to considerable foolishness.

There was the testosterone overflow by Phillies manager Joe Girardi, who came barreling out of the dugout to challenge Washington pitcher Max Scherzer, who was staring at him after Girardi demanded that he be examined three times for sticky stuff.

Scherzer was clearly annoyed by Girardi’s grandstanding, an effort by the manager to creep into the pitcher’s head. The result was Scherzer was found innocent and Girardi was thrown out of the game and later called “a con man’’ by Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo.

Then there was Oakland reliever Sergio Romo, who decided to help the umpires’ investigation by turning over his cap and glove and belt before dropping his pants in the middle of the stadium for all the fans to see.

In New York, rookie pitcher Tylor Megill was recruited to start for the Mets because their pitching staff was in tatters. He shut out the Braves into the fifth inning and when he was lifted from his first major league game, the appreciative fans gave him a standing ovation as he walked to the dugout.

It was a nice moment, interrupted when the umpires stopped Megill for a search and seizure operation. He was clean but what if they had located something. They couldn’t throw him out of the game because he had already been relieved and was out of the game.

This law and order operation borders on the embarrassing and needs to be thought through. When one of your pitchers decides to drop his pants to help the search, that’s an issue. Instead of celebrating the game, they are holding it up to ridicule.

If MLB suspects the pitchers are cheating, then conduct the searches with some privacy, perhaps in the dugout, perhaps in the bullpen, perhaps in the clubhouse. Any place other than the middle of the ballpark, delaying the game and causing the vice squad to be on call.

There are other solutions. In Japan, they use balls that are treated before games, providing pitchers with the improved grip that MLB pitchers are seeking. MLB is considering that route.

In the meantime, cue the calliope music for this carnival.

About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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