Big League Stew - MLB

Can somebody get Joe Blanton a box of Handi-Wipes so we can call this a day? How about a new Phillies hat? How about a hypnotist to break him of the habit of touching his bill between pitches?

Can we do any of the above so we can move on?

Questioned about the prominent black coloring on the brim of his hat on Sunday night, the Phillies pitcher/slugger said it was nothing more than old-fashioned dirt and not something more nefarious like the pine tar that everyone at home with a hi-def television assumed it probably was.

"It's nothing," Blanton said after his win in Game 4. "They rubbed balls up with whatever they rub them with. I'm constantly trying to get moisture. It's nothing sticky. Anybody can go touch [the cap]. It's just dirt from the ball."

Right after that explanation, Blanton was backed by his manger Charlie Manuel, who took off his own cap and showed his similarly grubby bill to the media.*  

"You can look at my cap," Manuel said. "It's got the same kind of stuff he's talking about."

"He" would be manager Joe Maddon, who was caught on an in-game feed instructing home plate umpire Tom Hallion to keep an eye on Blanton's brim and to be on the lookout for any suspicious movement.

"We did notice it was rather dark," said Maddon, whose team looked mostly helpless against Blanton's stuff on Sunday night. "I did bring it to [the umpires'] attention. I asked them to just watch it and be vigilant about it, and nothing happened. But I was concerned about it early on."

For the record, this isn't the first time someone has noticed that Blanton's hat is dirtier than the mouth of a Phillies fan. The "black stuff' was clearly visible during the NLCS and even as far back as the first week against Boston when he was wiping his hands on a yellow Athletics brim.

Personally, I don't think anyone would be that dumb to repeatedly take the hill with that noticeable of a smudge on his bill, especially in this day and age of super zoom lenses and crystal-clear television pictures. 

But even if he did, it's not like it would have mattered. Not when Blanton was using the pine tar on his bat to clobber the first home run by a pitcher in the World Series since 1974.

*For you conspiracy theorists out there, it's worth nothing that Manuel came to the news conference wearing a cap while Blanton did not. Perhaps Blanton just gave Manuel his in a little bout of media trickery? 

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