Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Well, Deadspin linked to this, so you've probably seen Derek Zumsteg's argument that K-Rod doctors the ball.

I don't know if you've gone back to look at the video or not, but I have, and ... I have no idea.

It's certainly not as clear-cut as Derek makes it seem. Frankie does touch the brim of his cap quite a bit, but he practically always follows it up with wiping his hand across his pants. Maybe he tucks his thumb and is just wiping his fingers, and it's all an elaborate ruse, or maybe that's just his tic while on the mound. Or maybe both.

Derek also exhorts us to observe how the pitches he throws after touching his cap differ in movement from those he throws otherwise, but as best as I can tell there's no pattern to this at all. The second strike Frankie throws to Brad Wilkerson (before which he touches the cap) looks just like the first strike (before which he doesn't). The only pitch with unique movement is the first pitch to Gerald Laird, a fastball that rides inside for a ball (all of Frankie's pitches but one were fastballs). A couple of the other time he touches his hat, he throws a ball.

So, I have no idea if K-Rod has his doctorate in ball ... doctoring or not, but if he does, I might suggest he stop, as the pitches that apparently arouse suspicion tend to suck.

(Incidentally, I went back and watched K-Rod's last save from 2006; he does substantially the same thing, touching his cap and then his goggles. Once again, there is no discernible difference in the movement of his pitches from one to another [he was slider-heavy in that outing, and mixes in his fastball with both the big and get-me-over sliders]. I glanced at some April outings, too, same thing. 2006 is as far back as the MLB.tv archives go.)

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I glanced at some April outings, too, same thing. 2006 is as far back as the MLB.tv archives go.

Well, not quite. ;)

You forgot about the Baseball's Best archive, with the broadcasts of 2002 WS Game 6 and 7. The link to game 6,


Where if we all remember, K-Rod spent 2.2 LONG innings on the mound. Guess what? He was doing the hat-grabbing thing then too. Check it out. The first time is about 14:18 through the 5th, and multiple times after that through all the innings. Haven't checked, but I'd guess he did it in game 7 too. It's a nervous habit he's had for 6 years.
Oh, I hadn't realized that stuff was kept in a different part of the site. Thanks for finding and reporting on that.
There's also a way to access 2005 games. Go to the top plays archive on MLB.com


and click on a highlight from a game you want to watch. In the video page the link to the 400k game footage still works. I just watched Franky's save from 9/21/2005. He grabs his hat in an identical manner, I really think this is just a result of the new fabric and color on the other side of the hat mixed with K-Rod's hat rubbing and the rosin bag.
Major League Baseball could probably put an end to all this suspicion one way or the other by ordering K-Rod to surrender his cap as soon as he leaves the field during his next outing.

My bet is they won't.

Well, looks like MLB's decided to do something, anyway. We'll see what they say about it.
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