A blog about baseball cards... and the Padres

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Secret Ingredients

This is my entry into the Blogger Bracket Challenge.  If you are entertained by me quoting Tom Verducci quoting Dick Hayhurst, or making up lies about journeyman infielders/outfielders, please consider voting for this post at Nachos Grande.  I'm up against a few other bloggers who probably don't even know basic baseball information like who was the batter facing Tom Browning when he broke his arm with a pitch.  It was Archi Cianfrocco, guys.  C'mon.


Much has been made recently about the use of “foreign substances” being used to effect how a baseball moves when it is thrown.  Since the beginning of baseball, it seems, there have been pitchers who have tried to gain a competitive advantage by adding a little “something extra” to a pitch.

Here’s an excerpt from an article written by Tom Verducci...

“…nobody wrote a better "how-to" explanation of using foreign substances than (Dick) Hayhurst. In his book Out of My League, Hayhurst wrote about what's inside those backpacks pitchers carry to the bullpen. He wrote when describing the unpacking of the bag: "Then the real supplies came out: various goops and stick 'ems that some morally sensitive fans would call the use of cheating, while we in the business simply called having an edge." Those substances, Hayhurst wrote, include something called "Firm Grip . . . a knockoff of pine tar," shaving cream ("specifically the gel stuff") and sunscreen.

"When rubbed into the skin and mixed with sweat and rosin," Hayhurst wrote, "this stuff actually forms an SPF-40 caliber Fixodent, which a crafty pitcher can mix on the fly. A touch to the wrist slightly below the mitt for some [sun] screen, a wipe of the back of the neck for some sweat, a pat of the rosin bag for the third component, and you'll have enough tack to make the ball hang from your fingertips."

“…enough tack to make the ball hang from your fingertips”?  That sounds almost unbelievable, but I'm sure it's true.  Between corked bats and PED use, I'm sure some pitchers think it's no big deal.

But for the most part, we hear about those crafty pitchers who are trying to get an edge.  Does anybody else do it?

Some believe that position players do.  Take Craig Paquette, for example.  Entering the league in 1993, he would leave in 2003 a career .239 hitter.  While he didn’t hit for much average, his 162 game average equals out to about 20 HR and 75 RBI.  Not too shabby for a guy who didn’t see much playing time.

With a decent enough bat, how would they fit ol Craig into the lineup?

Well, the other half of the game is being on defense.  While Paquette bounced around the field during his tenure in the bigs, he had a hard time finding a "home", as is evidenced by his fielding position labeled as "IF-OF".  Yes, we're aware that those are basically your only options (unless you're a pitcher or a catcher, though technically both are in the infield).

After the 1996 season, Craig was skating on thin ice in terms of his defense.  While he was decent at first base (a position not known for being too defensively tasking), he had a whopping 11 errors in 51 games, good for an .891 fielding percentage at third base in 1996.  Ouch.

So where did Paquette turn to help right the ship and save his place as a major league player?  Could it be the SPF-40 caliber Fixodent?

Perhaps due to his extreme paranoia of being caught cheating (first triggered by getting caught cheating on a spelling test in Mrs. Wormwood's first grade class), he was very secretive about how he went about applying the stick 'em, including having a "secret ingredient" hidden in his armpit?  In this candid shot, could the disembodied hand with the fancy bracelet/watch is actually Hayhurst's, observing Paquette's routine and giving pointers?

The world may never know... unless we dig deeper - how did his fare with the glove in 1997?  Well, Paquette would play 22 more games at third and have only one more error than the previous year.

Go ahead and draw your own conclusions, but for me, the proof is in the pudding (Hey - what would that do to a baseball?  Somebody call Mythbusters!).

Either that, or he was just trying to find a place to wipe that dry, spring training booger that had been bugging him the whole game.

Hadn’t quite mastered the “pick and flick” method yet.  Sad stuff.

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