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May 27, 2015 6:00 am

Rubbing Mud: Rubbing Not-Really-Mud


Matthew Trueblood

Everybody violates the foreign substance rules, and it's harmless, so we should just do away with the rules, right? Wrong.

It's becoming an annual thing. Last week, Will Smith and Brian Matusz were ejected and suspended for applying foreign substances to the ball (really, for being found with foreign substances on their bodies while on the mound), touching off what's fast becoming a hopelessly convoluted conversation. Last year, of course, it was Michael Pineda making the headlines. In 2013, Clay Buchholz came under fire. In 2012, Joel Peralta's ejection from a game against his former team led to Joe Maddon and Davey Johnson yelling at each other, first on the field, then through the media. (That incident, if nothing else, brought us the phrase “weird wuss.”)

Each time it happens, we rehash the same arguments, which could easily boil down to a bullet-point list but tend to be couched in anecdotes, ballplayer quotes and summarized histories of doctoring the ball. Since I did all of that in the first paragraph, though, I have a chance to simply deliver that list of bullets:

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Unraveling the secret of an unusual pitch.

Jeff Samardzija has become one of my favorite pitchers. But for a few years, he was a thorn in my side. Okay, maybe more like two thorns.

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