October 20, 2009
Just weeks after the "Joe Mauer stealing signs" story momentarily shut down the Internet, it looks like baseball has another Zapruder film poised to make headlines — no matter if it's just a case of a weird camera angles and some strange transition trickery.
According to the folks over at Halos Heaven, this YouTube video shows Mariano Rivera(notes) spitting on the ball just before starting his relief appearance in the 10th inning of the Yankees' 5-4 loss to the Angels on Monday. With the heat of a playoff battle putting them on edge, Angels fans are seeing red over the clip and the site's blogmaster, Rev. Halofan, believes that "this is pretty conclusive evidence of why Rivera is able to throw only one pitch that has unpredictable, yet precise movement."
On the flip side, Yankees blog Fack Youk is pointing out the absurdity of believing that it would take 15 years for anyone to discover that the secret to Rivera's brilliant success is simply gained by hocking the most magic baseball loogie since Keith Hernandez.
Asks FY's Jay:
"Do these hacks at Halos Heaven really think that's been the key to throwing the cutter all these years? Spit directly on the ball and hope no one notices? FOR FIFTEEN YEARS? If it was his super-secret method, don't you think he'd be a touch more discreet about it?"
What's more, the blog also takes the mythbusting liberty of pointing out that the "saliva" from the last frame above is actually the Majestic logo on the sleeve of Mike Scioscia's jersey, which appears in the next shot from FOX's cameras.
Because we never see where the loogie lands or have additional angles at our disposal, I think it's impossible to rule that Rivera was doing his best Gaylord Perry impersonation.
Still, in this 24/7 news cycle world, we better fully expect the New York media will make this a story leading up to tonight's Game 4 at Angel Stadium and probably even ask Rivera about it. After all, it doesn't take much these days.
UPDATE: Told you so. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that MLB is looking into this matter, but that their intial feelings are circumspect.
UPDATE #2: The commissioner's office has cleared Rivera of any wrongdoing.