Big League Stew

Clay Buchholz: ERA of 1.60, SPF of 1,000

David Brown
Big League Stew

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(BLS Illustration, Getty)

Yahoo! Sports' own Jeff Passan found out what Boston Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz was putting on his arm recently. It wasn't only rosin, as Buchholz claimed, and the reason it looks like sweat is because it goes on clear. And — depending on your definition of a spitball — it's not something to help him throw illegal pitches, per se, as Toronto Blue Jays broadcasters Jack Morris and Dirk Hayhurst said.

It's BullFrog brand sunscreen, something sources told Passan that "90 percent" of major league pitchers use to help them grip the ball in wet circumstances. Hurlers feel naked without the stuff, apparently. Gooey on it's own, sunscreen mixed with rosin produces a roux, of sorts, that has glue-like properties. It acts like pine tar (which pitchers aren't supposed to use, either). Pitchers who use probably would rationalize it like this:

A sunscreen-rosin combo doesn't work like petroleum jelly, or lard, or any of the foreign substances with which Gaylord Perry admitted he doctored baseballs to give his pitches more break or drop. It's simply something to help pitchers grip the ball ... fairly. Hey, is it fair if some pitchers sweat more than others (as Buchholz has implied he does), or if some games occur in more humid conditions than others? It just evens things out. Like a dome stadium!

Which probably is one of the reasons why Buchholz got caught in Toronto. Applying sunscreen in a dome stadium, at night, repeatedly, might lead to a sheen that invites speculation. So, with the understanding that "90 percent" of his colleagues do this, is he off the hook (if he ever was on it)? Not exactly. MLB says it will look into accusations of any players using substances they shouldn't.

The biggest loser here probably will be Vaseline. Sorry, slippery friend of friends. The '70s are long over.

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