Yahoo! Sports writer Jeff Passan joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to talk about the Clay Buchholz controversy. Passon published a piece Wednesday detailing how a large majority of pitchers throughout the majors use BullFrog brand sunscreen combined with powdered rosin to give them a superior grip on the baseball.
“What I don’t understand about this whole this is the indignance that’s coming from [Buchholz] about it,” Passan said. “I suppose if he were to come out and say, ‘Yeah, I had sunscreen on my arm, and when you mix it with resin it makes a really tacky, glue-like substance that allows you to grip the ball better.’ And pitchers know that across baseball they do it. And hitters know that pitchers do it. And nobody seems to have a problem with it.”
Buchholz’ apparent method was revealed by Blue Jays radio analyst Dirk Hayhurst, and Toronto TV analyst Jack Morris took it further, accusing Buchholz of doctoring the baseball.
“Dirk Hayhurst is not a villain for pointing this out,” Passan said. “I think Dirk Hayhurst, frankly, gave us all a much better insight into the game. Jack Morris said something stupid. This isn’t a spitball. It’s just not. The hitters and the pitchers will agree that you do not get any weird movement based on using BullFrog plus rosin.
“But for Clay Buchholz to continue to go out about this and say there was nothing on his arm but rosin? Rosin is a powder. His arm looked like it was dipped in Soul Glo [hair product]. I mean, it was bad. And it was egregious. And that’s why all the pitchers with whom I spoke were like, you know what, if you’re going to cheat, at least be smart about it. And I use the word ‘cheat’ very loosely. Because it just probably really isn’t cheating at all.”
Passan said he does not expect that Major League Baseball will attempt to restrict pitchers from using sunscreen to get a better grip.
“Baseball considers sunscreen legal, it considers rosin legal. If the two happen to make a tacky substance that helps them hold the ball a little bit better, then I think Major League Baseball’s OK with that,” Passan said. “It’s one of these things that for years has been around. It just so happens that no one’s said it. Look, if you look back at Yu Darvish‘s near perfect game earlier this year against Houston, he’s going to his left arm all the time. People I think noticed that. But the oil slick on his arm just wasn’t nearly as evident as it was with Buchholz’.”
Added Passan: “I think the main point here is everybody uses this stuff. And so Clay Buchholz isn’t getting, to me, any sort of competitive advantage over his peers by using it.”
Asked why Buchholz has had so much success this season, Passan said: “Because he’s been really good. It has nothing to do with the stuff that’s on his arm. His stuff is nasty. And his stuff has a lot of natural movement to it. As long as Clay Buchholz is healthy and is around the strike zone, he’s going to be this guy. He just hasn’t been healthy and hasn’t been around the strike zone in the past.
“I just think that he’s at that age right now where he realizes that his career can veer one of two ways. It can go down the path of superstardom, and it can go down the path of had all the potential in the world and threw it away. I think John Farrell‘s return and I think Josh Beckett‘s exit has created this confluence that Clay Buchholz is turning into that star.”
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