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Saturday Morning Breakfast & Baseball: Pine Tar, Song Covers, An On-Air Stroke (?), Name-Calling, and Ranting

By now, you've all likely heard about the Joel Peralta saga. Peralta joins the Washington Nationals in 2010 as an unspectacular reliever. He turns in the best season of his career, as he has a 2.02 ERA and his peripheral stats mostly back up his success. He somehow gets designated for assignment anyway, and latches on with the Rays, where he's mostly continued his run of being an above-average reliever. All of a sudden, thanks to interleague we see the Rays and Nationals square up, and what happens right as Peralta enters Tuesday's game? Nationals manager Davey Johnson goes straight to the umpires and says, "Hey, umm, I have this idea that you may want to check Peralta's glove out there."

Lo and behold, there's pine tar in the glove, Peralta gets suspended 8 games, and Rays manager Joe Maddon gets into a catfight with Davey Johnson through the media. What's especially interesting about this entire thing is that according to former pitcher Dirk Hayhurst, this is not an isolated incident. Hayhurst mentions both in his blog and in his book Out Of My League that it's common for pitchers to doctor up the baseball, though his blog post was written as a response to Jose Valverde possibly spitting on a baseball a couple weeks ago rather than Peralta's misfortune.

Also, there are some people speculating that Peralta was caught because he started using pine tar in 2010 when he joined the Nationals, thus how he turned himself from an average middle reliever into a solid set-up man. Also, the Nationals chose to keep the information secret until it would benefit them the most, namely when they would have to face Peralta in a close game, such as what happened Tuesday.

What have I learned through this whole thing? Pitchers cheat way more than we think, and MLB has ridiculous suspension rules (8 games for doctoring a baseball, 5 for throwing at a hitter on purpose, and none for having a DUI).

  • On a lighter note, Bronson Arroyo and Aroldis Chapman visited Lindsay Guentzel and the MLB Fan Cave earlier this week, and they teamed up to sing a baseball-themed version of Adam Sandler's "Red Hooded Sweatshirt." I had no idea what Chapman's role was in the song (Scatting? Saying funny nonsense things to make us laugh?) so I had to go and listen to the original on YouTube to understand the point of the "Dip-dip-dip." On a related note, if you're ever near me and you hear me randomly say "Dip-dip-dip," well, now you know why.
  • Sometimes we joke about either Dick Bremer and/or Bert Blyleven being drunk on the air, but Rangers play-by-play announcer Dave Barnett said something on the air that was truly absurd. You can listen to the exchange from Monday's Rangers/Padres game courtesy of Deadspin, but here's the whole thing that Barnett said...

The go-ahead run is at fifth on what [Mike] Adams is insisting on calling it a botched robbery. What actually happened was his henchman took piece literally out of...

...and then his microphone was turned off. This episode is being attributed to the migraines that Barnett regularly has, but this is the first time I've ever heard a migraine being responsible for a person spouting off gibberish (Maybe that's why Aroldis Chapman was saying "Dip-dip-dip"!). There hasn't been any updates on Barnett since then, but I have a feeling that it was more likely he had a stroke on the air. He missed both Tuesday and Wednesday's games for a medical evaluation and the Rangers were off Thursday, so as now (Friday morning) he has not returned to the broadcasting booth.

  • Frank Francisco may have said a little too much when he told the New York Post, "I can't wait to face those chickens." By chickens, he means the Yankees. Francisco then added that he wanted to strike out the side in one of the games, as he's done it against the Yankees once before. Plus, unlike Torii Hunter, his story of the past is actually true, as he once struck out Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Jason Giambi in one inning back in 2004. Hearing Francisco make that chicken quote reminds me of Pedro Martinez, who also in 2004 said, "What can I say? Just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy." Granted, Pedro's comments were in response to the Bronx Bombers owning him, unlike Francisco's comment.
  • You'd think that basically cleaning house by replacing manager Terry Francona with Bobby Valentine and general manager Theo Epstein with Ben Cherington would have eliminated the drama in Boston, but to David Ortiz, it's clear that this was not the case. Even after playing well, the Boston media has seemed more interested in discussing various dramas circling the Red Sox, which led Big Papi to give us the following sound bite about playing in Boston:

It's becoming the [bleep]hole it used to be. Look around, bro. Look around. Playing here used to be so much fun.

Yikes. Is this going to stop the media, though? I doubt it. After all, it's their job to get page views, and getting juicy tidbits about the team is likely going to get more readers than sticking to game recaps and player profiles. I kind of agree with Bobby Valentine that it's possible that Ortiz is trying to take some of the heat off other players, but I do wonder one thing: What were the issues in Boston's past that Papi is citing?

Brian Duensing makes his starting debut later today. Someday, the Twins will have a role for Duensing and they will stick with it for an entire season. This year, and the previous three years, is not that year.