The Redleg Nation — that is, you guys — have done a rather expert job of finding info about the mud-slinging (or lack thereof, depending on perspective) that has started between the Reds and Cardinals since Wednesday night.

In case you haven’t heard about it, future Hall of Famer and present Cardinal pitcher John Smoltz walked five hitters in a game for, I believe, only the third time in his illustrious 21 year career and he wasn’t happy because the balls were slick.

I suppose it didn’t occur to him that he could rub the baseballs, too.

Or stop and blow on his hands, like everyone else.

Some oddities:

1) The Cardinals accused Bronson Arroyo of having pine tar on his hat and were saying that he was going to his hat to get a foreign substance.

2) Every other pitcher in the game combined to walk 3 hitters in 15 innings.

3) Why would a Reds clubhouse attendant come by and leave open the suggestion the balls had been switched? That may be the oddest comment of all.

I know that Smoltz is reaching the end of his career, and that’s hard for anyone to accept. He wasn’t happy being demoted by the Red Sox either, which led to him to joining the Cardinals. He walked 9 in 40 innings with the BoSox this year; he’s now walked 9 in 38 innings with the Cardinals. And, yes, I know he’s fighting for a postseason rotation spot, but pointing figures at others doesn’t make him a better pitcher now.

And as for gamesmanship, does anyone really believe that Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan do not do anything to ever psyche out the competition?

Here’s one more oddity: a former Red, Lena Blackburne, is the guy who “discovered” the magic Delaware River mud that is used for rubbing up baseballs. In fact, here’s a website about the company that was formed that still provides the mud today. Apparently, developers took over the original “mud” site and the company had to “discover” a new spot from which to get the mud that is used to rub the balls and make them less “shiny.” Why do they rub the balls with this particular Delaware River mud? Here’s a quote from the website:

It all began in 1938 when an umpire complained to Lena Blackburne, a third base coach for the old Philadelphia Athletics, about the sorry condition of the baseballs used by the American League. Back then a ball was prepped simply with mud made of water and dirt from the playing field. The result? The ball’s cover was too soft, leaving it open for tampering. Something was needed to take off the shine but not soften the cover.

Blackburne took on the challenge. Next time he returned to his home in Burlington County, he checked out the mud along tributaries of the Delaware River until he found some muck (the whereabouts of the mud hole is still a dark secret) with a texture he felt would do the job. Taking a batch to the Athletics’ field house, he rubbed some balls with the stuff. It worked like a charm! What’s more, it had no odor and didn’t turn the balls black. The umpires were happy, and Lena Blackburne was in the mud supply business.

So there you have it. Mud on the balls from the Delaware River, to make the balls less shiny and for a better grip. Read the website for more.

Frankly, the big news in the story for me was that umpires don’t rub the balls any more…I didn’t realize that the teams employed someone else to do it. Seems to me that would be part of home field advantage and I’d rub the baseballs to my pitcher’s advantage every game. Are the Astros wrong to have an incline in centerfield? Were the Orioles wrong to mow the infield grass really low with Brooks Robinson at third and Mark Belanger playing shortstop to take advantage of their fielding prowess? Of course not.

I’m not saying anything was wrong with the baseballs, but they were all playing the same game nevertheless.

The best part about this is that there may be more of an incentive for a regional rivalry next year and that sounds like fun. Anybody for some mudslinging?

31 Responses

  1. brublejr

    LaRussa is a real piece of work. Yeah, his teams are above stuff like that, even though he has probably had more Steroid users than anybody…but apparently that doesn’t matter. I really can’t stand the guy, he is a good coach, but I can’t stand him one bit.

  2. Dan

    Have the balls checked during the game, have Bronson’s hat checked during the game, file an official protest, or shut up, LaRussa.

    Don’t do nothing but then belly-ache in the press about it. That’s just annoying and kind of passive-aggressive.

  3. RedinFla

    Dan: Have the balls checked during the game, have Bronson’s hat checked during the game, file an official protest, or shut up, LaRussa.Don’t do nothing but then belly-ache in the press about it. That’s just annoying and kind of passive-aggressive.

    Well said. I won’t let unfounded accusations and petty whining stop me from squeezing a few moments of enjoyment out of an otherwise dismal season.

  4. adaircam4

    3 years ago, I was at a Cardinals/Royals games marking the beginning of my tour of 4 baseball parks (St. Louis, Kansas City, Houston, Texas). After the game,I was walking back to my hotel room when I saw LaRussa signing autographs outside the clubhouse. I got in line with about 10 other fans. I was the last person in line and no one was behind me. I had my game ticket in hand. When he got to me, he looked at my Reds cap, turned around, and walked away, not signing. I yelled a couple of choice words as he was walking toward his Lexus. I used to dislike the Cardinals, after that, I hate them!

  5. David

    Given Arroyo’s recent statement on PEDs, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he has used other methods of gaining a competitive advantage. That said, if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying. It’s on the opponent to observe rule violations, report a violation when it occurs during the contest, and let the officials sort out the facts.

    In my opinion, this is simply Dave Duncan protecting Smolt. The Reds have faired well against the World-Series-or-Bust-Cards this season going 8-8. I’m sure that gnaws at LaRussa who has a disdain for everything lowly Cincinnati.

  6. doktor

    like others have said, if LaRussa/Duncan have a complaint then formally make one. The rules are there and the umps are there to enforce the rules. its no different when somebody tagging up leaves the bag too early on purpose, its cheating but if you get away with it, you made a break for your team. if you get caught by the other team and the umps, its an out and potential lost run.

    Him and the whole A’s team came across as a bunch of whiners in the 1990 WS sweep. Its lame and he is an idiot for letting his team lose a game if he really thought Bronson was using pine-tar.

  7. doktor

    Stuff like is making it hard for who to pull for in the NL in the playoffs.

    definitely want the dodger-scum to be swept out.
    this latest crap with the Cardinals whining wants me to pull against them.
    phillies, rather not have them repeat, since 75-76 Reds are last NL team to do so.
    leaving only the Rockies to get behind fully.

    AL – anyone but the Yanks/Red Sox. Maybe the Angels will get over the Red Sox hex this year. Plus if Angels get in the WS, it would burn Texiera that he left a good situation. 😈

  8. RedinFla


    “…if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying…”

    Are you kidding? If not, I’m glad I’m not on your team… and I’m really glad I don’t ever play against your team.

    Have you read Arroyo’s complete statements about PED’s? I’m pretty sure I recall that what he took wasn’t even banned at the time. Am I remembering this correctly?

  9. Chris Garber

    Duncan’s comments are transparent and pathetic. As noted, the baseballs were just fine for every other player on the field. Was everyone other than Beardy cheating?

    Root for the Dodgers – Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are very cool players.

  10. shane

    Man it’s a shame what has happened to morals in this country

  11. John

    People tend to forget that LaRussa has been a whiner for years. The 1990 sweep, the various beanball wars and brawls over the years, accusations against other teams’ “cheating” and other crap. He and his teams are just a bunch of sore losers. Always have been, always will.

  12. David

    RedinFla: Seriously? Obviously, you’ve never heard the expression. Cheating is defined as violating rules or regulations.

    Examples –

    – a player dives for a ball trapping it. The player acts as though he has caught it. Cheating?
    – a batter waits 15 seconds between pitches before entering the batter’s box. Cheating?
    – a batter roughs up the dirt at the back of the batter’s box so the line is no longer visible. Cheating?
    – a pitcher holds the ball behind his back at any given time. Cheating?
    – a pitcher blows on his hand without the prior consent of the other team during a cold game. Cheating?
    – a pitcher throws at a batter. Cheating?
    – a pitcher waits longer than 12 seconds to deliver the ball to the batter with no men on base. Cheating?

    Each of the above examples violates the major league baseball code of rules. Yet, most of these rules are violated so frequently you probably didn’t even know the player was breaking the rules i.e. cheating.

    Players do this for a number of reasons… They scuff the back line to stand further back in the box, they take longer to get set to break the timing of the opponent. They are trying to get a competitive advantage.

    It’s cute that you think the world works where everyone follows all the rules, but truth be told, it doesn’t happen. Some people say “it’s not cheating if you don’t get caught.” That’s incorrect. It’s not cheating if the other team acquiesces to it.

  13. RedinFla


    Well, I guess I’ll just be cute, then. And PED’s and pine tar are both intentional and easily documented at the time of the accusation, unlike the rest of your cheat list.

    So the accusation against Arroyo made after the fact was a cheap shot — not to mention the MLB coverage with no way for him to defend himself. Low class.

    I think I’d rather be cute.

  14. shane

    No, it’s cheating if it breaks the rules. Thats what cheating *is*
    Just because someone, or several people, or a lot of people do it and get away with it, its still cheating until the rules are changed.
    A lot of people don’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign, ask Chad if that makes it legal not to.

  15. doktor

    @Chris Garber:
    pull for the dodgers?!?!?!?!? are you out of your mind? thems fighting words. 👿 I am so hoping the Rockies just blow up that pitching staff this weekend. and then to see them get swept out would be delightful. especially if Manny drops a fly ball or two, doesn’t run out a DP ground ball. 🙂

  16. doktor

    regarding my prior post, I know, I dont want much do I. 🙄

  17. David

    Hmmm… we are talking about a game Shane. It’s a game. Have you ever cheated at cards? Monopoly? I fail to see the applicability of what I wrote to laws meant to serve the public well being. So far as I know, cheating within the confines of a game does not have the ramifications i.e. potentially killing a person, running a stop sign might have. Chad isn’t the only attorney on the board, and I don’t need my law degree to know the fault of your logic.

    Red – that’s sort of my point so thank you for making it for me. The Cards could have notified the official of the rule violation. They didn’t. That means either they acquiesced to what they consider cheating or they didn’t view it as a rule violation.

  18. RedinFla

    Didn’t mean to make that point at all. The fact that the Cards made the accusation shows that they “viewed it as a rule violation”. The point I was trying to make was that the timing of the accusations was cheap, dragging Bronson’s name through the mud (literally) in the media. If they really thought it was happening, they wouldn’t have acquiesced.

  19. Shane

    A lawyer saying cheating is ok as long as you don’t get caught and if you aren’t cheating you aren’t trying lol Makes you wonder where lawyers get such a bad rep doesn’t it? lol

  20. Shane

    Oh and we weren’t discussing ramifications, we were deciding whether cheating was cheating or not.

  21. Chad Dotson

    I need to clear up one point that I think is the single most important issue in this entire discussion:

    I am not an attorney. 😀

    I was an attorney, until 2.5 years ago. I’m still a member of the bar, but I’m not an attorney. I’m a judge.

  22. preach

    When Kenny Rogers was nailed during the World Series for cheating and there were absolutely no consequences about it, it left a hollow feeling for me.

    A sales job about a trapped ball or a missed tag is a heck of a lot different than using a foreign substance during the game.

  23. David

    Red, I have no idea what you are saying. The Cards thought he was cheating because they said something after but if they really thought he was cheating they would have said something sooner? I can’t follow that argument.

    Shane, yeah, good one.

    Can explain to me how cheating at a game, whether it be cards, baseball, Clue, or whatever is at all analagous to breaking the law. Did I say that breaking the law was okay? No, I didn’t. I said that every major league player cheats to gain a competitive advantage so much so that it had become customary. Throwing at a player is a perfect example. It’s against the rules but it is expected in some circumstances.

    Throwing at a player is breaking the rules. Throwing at a player is cheating. Pitchers cheat in order to protect their players, protect the lead, protect the customs of the game, etc., etc., etc.

    Let me give you a hypothetical where cheating is expected. The Reds are in the World Series. It’s game seven. The Reds are the away team. In the bottom of the ninth, the Reds lead 3-2. There are men on second and third with two out. The batter hits a sharp liner to right field where Jay Bruce makes a diving grab. He doesn’t catch it, he traps it. He KNOWS he trapped it, but also knows if his body language indicates he didn’t catch it, the umpire is more likely to call it a live ball, and the Reds will lose as the two runners have already crossed the plate. Jay Bruce jumps up and acts as though he caught it. To add to it, Drew Stubbs has seen everything. Knowing his reaction is also important, runs over to Bruce and tackles him in grand celebratory form. Replays clearly show Bruce trapped it, but with no instant replay the umpire, based on Bruce’s body language and Stubbs reaction calls “out.” Reds win!

    What are your thoughts on the subject? I mean had the Reds followed the rules they wouldn’t be world champions. Except EVERYBODY expects the player in that situation to do exactly what I described. And despite knowing full well watching the game at home, you’d be happy the Reds won. When fans of the opposing team called it cheap or a blown call, you’d simply shrug and say, the call on the field was out.

    You didn’t answer my questions by the way. The reason you didn’t admit to cheating at cards or monopoly or some other game is that you don’t want to sacrifice your argument. You, like most other people in the world, have cheated at a game of some sort. Does that mean you are a criminal who also breaks the law? No. It doesn’t.

  24. Bill Lack

    David, your definition of cheating seems pretty “fluid”…reminds me of the old joke about the guy asking a woman if she would sleep with someone for $1,000,000, she says yes. He then asks if she’d sleep with the same person for $5, she says ‘What kind of a person do you think I am?” He says, “We’ve already determined what kind of person you are, now we’re just negotiating the price.” Something is either wrong or it’s not, whether it’s cheating at cards, monopoly, tiddly winks, or baseball. IMO, of course.

  25. David

    I’m not saying it isn’t wrong. For God’s sake… everybody is missing the point.

    My point is that every baseball player is trying to get a competitive advantage and cheating is a big part of the game. Whether it’s pine tar, stealing signs, corking a bat, peds, or something simple like kicking dirt over the line in the batter’s box, it’s a part of the game. The Reds can be morally superior to every other team in the league, but it’s stupid because the other teams are testing the boundaries or flat breaking rules.

    For that reason it’s on the other team to call out the opponent WHILE IT IS HAPPENING. If they don’t, it’s not cheating because it becomes a customary practice – much like throwing at a player.

  26. RedinFla

    No, I don’t cheat at cards. And the Bruce/Stubbs scenario would leave the championship forever in question, like other questionable calls & plays are argued and debated ad infinitum. (does the Latin make me sound like a lawyer? I’m not – I’m a teacher. same difference. 😀 )

  27. shane

    David: everybody is missing the point.

    We aren’t missing the point, you just keep changing the point lol

    Cheating is breaking the rules, plain and simple, no matter who breaks them or how often, and whether or not caught. Yes, sometimes it is overlooked, or not caught. But it still happened and it was still cheating. You can call it competitive edge if you want to but a rose is a rose, etc.
    How many guys needed to use steroids before it’s not cheating because it became a customary practice? They could have changed the rules later at some point because it became so common, but until they did, it would be cheating.
    And no, everyone doesn’t have to cheat in order to win. If you are good enough you can still beat a cheater without cheating. It happens all the time.

    Here’s a couple of short definitions for you from Meriam Webster:
    1 a : to practice fraud or trickery
    b : to violate RULES dishonestly (the caps and boldface are mine)

    1 a (1) : a binding custom or practice of a community : a RULE of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority (2) : the whole body of such customs, practices, or RULES (again, the caps and boldface are mine)

    I’m done. You had ample opportunity to make your case and you double-talked your way around it without proving a thing so we’re finished. And no, continuing to post will still not make you right.

  28. doktor

    I motion to adjourn this court proceeding…. discussion… mental discourse….stuff… 🙂