Joel Peralta entered tonight’s Rays-Nationals game with his usual assignment: Get the next three outs, keep the lead, and hand the ball over to Fernando Rodney. After Peralta finished warming up, the umpires would swarm the mound with a request to see his glove. Peralta complied, and would shortly thereafter head to the clubhouse gloveless and ejected, but not before tugging at his cap while facing the Nationals bench. The umpires had found what they deemed to be a significant amount of pine tar on Peralta’s glove.
After the game, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said that multiple members of the team had informed him about Peralta’s fondness for pine tar. On Twitter, former big-league pitcher Eric Knott pointed out that Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr served as Peralta’s bullpen coach in Washington. In a similar vein, Washington first base coach Trent Jewett managed Peralta in the minor leagues for a time in 2010.
Rays manager Joe Maddon partook in gamesmanship of his own by having Nationals pitcher Ryan Mattheus’ glove examined after he had recorded the first two outs of the ninth inning.
Peralta is going to be suspended. History suggests he will miss more than a week of action once the league hands down its punishment. Consider the case of Julian Tavarez who, in 2004, was caught with pine tar on his hat. Tavarez would be suspended for eight days. This isn’t the first time Maddon has seen a reliever on his club tossed due to pine tar, either. In 2005, Brendan Donnelly, then of the Angels, missed 10 days after umpires checked his glove and found pine tar. Oddly, that incident, like Peralta’s, came against the Nationals.
Those examples and others are in The Cheater’s Guide to Baseball, Derek Zumsteg’s invaluable reference for any baseball fan interested in the shadier side of the game.