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David Brown

Slippery doo-dah: Cards complain again about Cincy's baseballs

Big League Stew

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Looks like baseball has itself another mud flap in Cincinnati.

The plaintiff (again): The St. Louis Cardinals.

When asked about the balls used at Great American Ballpark on opening day, Cardinals righthander Chris Carpenter(notes) said they were much too slick.

All baseballs used in major league and minor league games, by rule, must be sufficiently rubbed in (this is a real product) Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud. It's been a big league tradition for nearly 75 years.

Carpenter said the balls he threw against the Reds on Monday did not get a proper massage with dirt from the bottom of the Delaware River.

From MLB.com:

"It doesn't bother me," said Carpenter, who brought the matter up to home-plate umpire Mike Reilly during the game. "It doesn't affect me. Mentally, I continue to execute and do the things that I have to do. But there's absolutely no question that the balls here ... I got balls that didn't have anything on them."

That's funny, because John Smoltz(notes) expressed a similar complaint at Cincy this past September when the Cards previously rolled through town.

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One difference: Smoltz also blamed a poor personal outing on the balls being too slippery. Carpenter did no such thing and — no wonder — he didn't seem to let it affect him. He had no walks, hit no batters and no wild pitches over six innings in the Cards' victory.

Carpenter says his main concern (Smoltz said it, too) is that someone will get hurt on an errant pitch because the ball is too slick.

OK, but has anyone other than the Cardinals complained? Cardinals pitchers acknowledge that Reds pitchers use the same baseballs. Where do Aaron Harang(notes) and friends come down on this? They don't seem to complain, though perhaps they have and the public just hasn't heard about it.

Smoltz and Carpenter seem pretty earnest about this, which is the only thing keeping me from believing it's another Tony La Russa mind game.

Tony wouldn't engage in something like that.

Would he?

BLS hat tips: Fanhouse and the Cincinnati Enquirer.

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