Originally written on Reading Between The Seams  |  Last updated 11/19/14
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Angry manager

The Tampa Bay Rays were in Washington D.C. Tuesday to take on the Nationals. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Joel Peralta was on the mound for the Rays. Nationals manager Davey Johnson requested that the umpires check Peralta’s glove for foreign substances. The umps found pine tar on the glove and Peralta was ejected. Rays manager Joe Maddon wasn’t too happy with Davey Johnson’s request and made it clear how he felt after the game.

Telling manager

See, here’s the problem…Joel Peralta pitched for the Nationals in 2010. Therefore, it appears and is highly likely that a former teammate of Peralta’s tipped Johnson off to Peralta’s practice. In other words, someone ratted out Peralta. A pitcher using or having pine tar on his person or the ball is against the rules and is deemed cheating. This is a long used practice by pitchers in baseball dating back decades. In fact, this is not the first time that Johnson has accused a pitching opponent of doctoring the ball. Back in the 1986 NLCS, when Johnson was the manager of the New York Mets, he had the Mets’ batboy collect discarded balls thrown by Houston Astros pitcher Mike Scott and sent them to the National League president. No action was taken against Scott in the 1986 incident, but Johnson was sure that Scott was cheating.

Caught pitcher

Apparently, as reported by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Peralta does not want to know who turned him in, as many players and some coaches remain from the time he was with the Nationals. Specifically, Peralta said, “I’m upset about it but what am I going to say? I’m not going to say anything against anybody that’s not me.” Immediately after the ejection, as Peralta was walking off of the field, he simply tipped his hat towards the Nationals bench.

Things got extremely interesting when Rays manager Joe Maddon was interviewed after the game. Maddon basically questioned the baseball ethics of Johnson’s request and hinted that some of Johnson’s own pitchers may be doing the same thing. In essence, Maddon’s statements were those that questioned Johnson’s baseball manhood. He went further on to put his full support behind Peralta, stating that he has done nothing that hasn’t been done since the beginning of baseball time. Here’s what Maddon said against Johnson and in support of Peralta:

If you want a reaction to the entire event I would go talk to the Nationals players and see what they think. I would bet – I don’t know this, but I would bet they are not very pleased with what went on tonight…From a real veteran staff on the other side knowing how this thing works and how it’s worked for many, many years, you could go back to spitball pitchers, greaseball pitchers, to whatever kind of pitchers, to scuffball pitchers, it’s just the way this game has been played for 100 years, or more than that…To single out Joel Peralta tonight, that is my concern. That Joel does not get villified, that’s my concern, because this guy has done a great job, he’s been an excellent relief pitcher and to in any way tarnish what he’s done to this point because there is going to be suggestions made based on what happened tonight and I think that’s wrong and inappropriate because it’s been a common practice for many, many years for anybody to try to get an edge in many, many ways…Before you start throwing rocks, understand where you live.

Maddon made a managerial statement of his own during the game but only after Johnson’s request. In the top of the ninth inning, he requested that Nationals pitcher Ryan Mattheus be inspected for foreign substances, in the same fashion that Peralta was inspected. While Maddon probably does suspect that some Nationals pitchers may be doctoring the ball, this request appeared to be one more about proving a point than anything else. Nothing was found on Mattheus’ glove or person.

The two teams will play Wednesday and Thursday nights, so look for more interesting fireworks. The Rays won Tuesday’s game by a score of 5-4. As to his ejection and the outcome, Peralta said, “Good for them. They still lost the game, so …”

Anyway, Johnson better hope his own pitchers aren’t accustomed to going to the mound with any “extra help.” No pitcher in his right mind will dare get up there with any foreign substances after Tuesday’s game…At least not in this series…Will they?

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