The Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants have an interesting history when it comes to throwing around accusations. If you recall, during a game at Coors Field in September of 2010, Tim Lincecum tossed a baseball out of play and could be seen mouthing the words “blank this juiced ball fertilizer.”
I’m paraphrasing, of course, while channeling my inner Vin Scully.
Lincecum never backed off his words following the game, and the accusation seemed to be that Colorado would occasionally throw a few non-humidor baseballs into the bag later in games to give their offense a better chance at instant offense. Though it felt more like gamesmanship than anything, Major League Baseball took San Francisco’s complaints seriously, even changing the rules for how baseballs at Coors Field were handled between the point where they leave the humidor and end up in the umpires hands.
Case closed. That particular issue has not resurfaced since, whether it be the Giants or any other team visiting Coors Field, but the hard feelings between the National League West rivals have seemingly lingered since that point without ever truly boiling over.
That brings us to Coors Field on Friday night. For a few seconds it seemed like we may have been headed towards that inevitable flare up. It happened in the third inning with Troy Tulowitzki running on first base, D.J. LeMahieu at the plate, and Madison Bumgarner pitching. As it's being reported, Tulowitzki asked first base umpire Tim McClelland to check the baseball. McClelland complied, stopping play to give it a once over before tossing it out of play.
Bumgarner had the outward reaction you'd expect. He didn't appear pleased by the stoppage or the insinuation, and even directed some words in Tulowitzki's direction, but it didn't go beyond those words. That left many of us wondering what exactly the situation was. Had Tulowitzki played the gamesmanship card himself? Did he think something shady was going on? What did McClelland find, if anything?
Andrew Baggerly of Comcast Sports Net San Francisco has some of the answers. At least the ones straight from the players.
“I wasn’t accusing him at all,” Tulowitzki said. “I have too much respect for him to do something like that. I didn’t think they were cheating.”
Tulowitzki said he noticed the mark and pointed it out to umpire Tim McClelland, only to suggest that they put a fresh one into play.
“You respect the game and there’s something on the baseball, so let’s get rid of it and move on,” Tulowitzki said. “You respect guys who compete. I have respect for him and hopefully he has the same for me.”
“I was just confused at the runner on first base asking for the ball to be checked,” Bumgarner said.
Did he think at the time that Tulowitzki was trying to get in his head?
“He didn’t, if he was,” Bumgarner said. “I didn’t take it that way.”
Much ado about nothing, it seems. Just a bizarre occurrence where the runner spots a scuff on the baseball before the batter or home plate umpire. Not a first, but certainly not something you see often. When you then take the history of the two teams into consideration, not to mention the Clay Buchholz accusations from a couple weeks ago, it became a situation worth investigating, but we can close the book on it quickly.
We can also close the book on Colorado's 10-game losing streak to San Francisco. They pounded Bumgarner for nine runs in four and a one-third innings, and then held tight to a 10-9 win after once leading 10-5.