Joel Peralta caught with pine tar by Nationals, but it’s the Rays crying foul

David Brown
Big League Stew

Apparently using inside information, Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson asked umpires to inspect Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Joel Peralta for a foreign substance Tuesday night. Sure enough, the baseball cops caught him with contraband on his glove: "A significant amount of pine tar," umpire Tim Tschida said. OK for hitters, but against the rules for pitchers. Umpires ejected Peralta before he even threw a pitch in Tampa Bay's 5-4 victory.

Peralta, who used to pitch for D.C., tipped his cap to the Nats' dugout and walked off, later saying it was his "batting practice" glove (whatever that is supposed to imply). Rays manager Joe Maddon was incensed — but not at his pitcher for trying to cheat. He called Johnson's actions "cowardly, bush [league], bogus, insider trading [and] way too easy."

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Ah, one of those "unwritten rules." Maddon used some other choice adjectives and adverbs, too. Reports James Wagner of the Washington Post:

All right! And there are still two more games to go in this series. Johnson said he was only using the information he had.

"It was a rumor that he liked a little pine tar," Johnson said. "I was hesitant to do it. Tim [Tschida] was looking at me kind of grinning. He said, 'What do you want?' I walked out and said, 'Why don't you check it, just to make sure. I'm curious.' "

Asked where the rumor came from, Johnson answered: "Well, he pitched here. I don't think it's a secret."

Maddon's beef is this: The information Johnson used was gained in confidence, not through scouting or general observance. If every team did what Johnson did, players (theoretically) would never share anything with their own teammates, because then all bets are off when someone gets sent to another team. The game would be no more competitive, just nastier.

Side note: Tschida told Maddon he could check one opposing player in response (that's a weird rule), so the umps patted down Washington's Ryan Mattheus but found nothing untoward. Fernando Rodney, the Rays reliever who got the save, came out in the ninth with his hands up and his glove between his legs. Funny.

[Related: Jose Valverde 'spitball' clip goes viral]

Maddon didn't deny the charges — because, why bother? — but said it was a "common practice" for pitchers to use pine tar on their gloves. The sticky stuff helps you get a grip. Cheating happens, he's saying. But there's a gentleman's agreement as to how to regulate it. And now he looks like a jerk who condones cheating, when any manager in the league — including Johnson — has players who do what Peralta did.

MLB might be a haven for cheaters and liars, but once we get to tattling, there's anarchy for ya.

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