Did Mariano Rivera Throw a Spitball?

In the aftermath of another dramatic playoff game, we have some controversy. The Los Angeles Angels beat the Yankees 5-4 in extras last night, but the story today is whether or not Mariano Rivera cheated during Game 3. Halos Heaven, an Angels blog, has a collection of photos and video that may or may not show Rivera spitting on the ball during the 10th inning. Personally, I’d be shocked and angry, if it’s true. I hate the Yankees, but I have always respected Rivera, who should be considered the greatest closer of all time. He’s the last guy I’d expect to cheat, and it would be another black mark on baseball.

BUT… I don’t think he did it.

I have watched the video (below) a few times, and have several thoughts on the incident.

  • Would anybody, especially a seasoned veteran, be stupid enough to spit on the ball during the 10th inning of a playoff game? With cameras and people everywhere?? No way. It wasn’t like Rivera was subtle about it, either. With spitballs, pitchers usually lick their fingers, before applying saliva to the ball. Rivera just spat, and made it obvious. There’s no way he’s that dumb, right?
  • The spit doesn’t appear to hit the ball. Instead, it looks like it misses. But, it’s close.
  • I know reputations shouldn’t matter, but it does. After all these years, Rivera’s cheating now? He’s a classy guy, and that’s a fact.

If Rivera’s cheating, he’s probably been cheating for a long time. Personally, I don’t think it’s the case, but I know many disagree.

From Halos Heaven:

  • The Yankees bring in Rivera during the 10th inning.
  • After warming up, he has his back to home plate so the home plate ump can’t see.
  • He looks down at the ball, then up to see if the 2nd base ump is watching.
  • He then looks back at the ball and appears to spit on it.
  • And when he tests clean for steroids they say he is not a cheater.

Here is the video:

So, what happened? Did he spit?

And another question to ponder: Where do spitballs fit into the realm of cheating in baseball? As bad as steroids? Corking your bat? Is it all the same?

And finally, if it’s true, should Rivera be punished?

-DL

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