Dirk HayhurstDirk Hayhurst, a former Rays minor league pitcher, made some waves last week when he accused Clay Buchholz of using an illegal substance while pitching against the Blue Jays.

Hayhurst, a Blue Jays announcer who is also writing a book about his time in the Rays organization, stuck by his story saying “I don’t feel a damn bit sorry about it,” even though there wasn’t any evidence to support his accusation.

But Hayhurst wasn’t content to just accuse Buchholz without any evidence. He also mentioned Cliff Lee (and a stain on his cap) in a column for Sportsnet.ca

“Pitchers break the law, folks. Some do it in the accepted “it’s only five miles over the limit, officer,” way. Some have big enough names that they can get away with it even when it’s plain for all to see – Cliff Lee’s hat, anyone?”

Lee was asked about Hayhurst’s comments, and legitimately asked “Who is Dirk Hayhurst?”

Once Lee was informed of Hayhurst’s credentials, Lee dismissed the accusation, noting that it is just an old and dirty cap. “I’ll go get you my hat right now,” said Lee. “I’ve been wearing the same hat for three years. It’s sweat and rosin.”

This is not the first time Lee’s cap has been questioned. But there is nothing illegal about rosin. And no opposing team has ever challenged the legality of the hat.

Maybe this is just how Hayhurst is trying to make a name for himself, by saying outlandish things and getting people like me to write about him.

But Hayhurst sounds more like the pitcher that believes he didn’t make it in the big leagues because everybody else was cheating.

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16 Comments

  1. Bill says:

    Sorry, I have to take the other view this time. Initially I was one of the ones ready to hang Hayhurst in Feb. when he seemed to be denigrating Maddon, even though I am a fan of his books. I'm still not sure on that one. And by the way, I personally reached out to him to let him know what I thought about him insulting Cork's entire career in reaction to the site's posts. As usual, I learned a lot and grew some myself in that exchange.

    But this time, in my opinion, you're barking up the wrong tree. Hayhurst was not the initiator of the accusations, as I understand it. And I don't think anything he is saying is that extreme. In this sport, just as in life, if you have a big name, you get away with more. Heck, we say it ourselves when we talk about which big names get what strike calls from umps. And certain people don't get questioned as readily as others. He never said Cliff Lee definitely cheated, he said his hat never got examined when it was noticed in the past. In October 2010, Michael Kays raised the issue of Lee's hat and I believe this site followed up with the story (could be wrong about that). Lee himself said it is a mixture of rosin and sweat that helps him get a better grip.But no one officially questioned it.

    And by the way, where did the notion that rosin is not illegal come from ? Because there is a bag out there and it is available to everyone ? It IS illegal depending upon how I use it. If I mix rosin with water or sweat to form a paste and intentionally put it on the ball in order to induce the ball to behave differently, that's illegal.

    Finally, why do you say Hayhurst, or whomever originated the accusations, had no evidence ? Certainly there was evidence. It might not be strong evidence to convict, but it was evidence enough to raise the question. First, a 94mph fastball breaking sharply downward is evidence of something not so common happening. Either he's on to an amazing pitch, or something untoward is happening. And this sport has a reputation of cheating, unfortunately. So when we see amazing stuff, we question it. Second, there was video evidence of a suspicious looking patch on his arm. If that patch is rosin, or rosin and water, it's still illegal if he is intentionally using it in a way to influence the pitch. Evidence does not have to be beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the media to point it out and question things.

    Seriously, I think the name Hayhurst popped up again for the first time since the first week in February and you reacted based upon that. But what's he's saying is not all that extreme and in fact, as I stated in opening, he did not originate the accusation on Buchholtz. I honestly think you'd take the opposite tact if his name wasn't involved. After all, its the Red Sox. Isn't it our moral duty to question everything they do except beating the Yankees ?

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    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      Great points, but the long and the short of it is that you can't just go around perpetuating rumors and making accusations without some sort of substantive evidence. You shouldn't be throwing former colleagues under the bus for personal or professional advancement or recognition. It's cowardly.

      For the record, I wouldn't be surprised if he was cheating, but without more to go on you must approach it differently.

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      • Bill says:

        What you said is very different than what the original article said. However, what you said is absolutely applicable, but not just to Hayhurst, to all media, and especially those who originated it. Unfortunately, in today's world of fast paced media and competition for every penny, the old school form of journalism where you investigate for months, get your facts and data, then present your story is dead. In any event, I still have trouble nailing Hayhurst for this. There are examples all over.

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  2. Lane Meyer says:

    We're back to the unwritten rules of baseball discussion. The unwritten rule is that everyone cheats a little but calling them on it is bush league. In my opinion, that went out the window last year when Davey Johnson called out Peralta simply because he had knowledge of Peralta's method based on his previous time with the Nats. Maddon needs to do the same at a key point in a future game if for no other reason than to get under the other team's skin.

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  3. Bill says:

    For the record, the below rulebook excerpt covers both Clay and Cliff when it comes to rosin.

    Rule 8.02(a) Comment: If at any time the ball hits the rosin bag it is in play. In the case of rain or wet field, the umpire may instruct the pitcher to carry the rosin bag in his hip pocket. A pitcher may use the rosin bag for the purpose of applying rosin to his bare hand or hands. Neither the pitcher nor any other player shall dust the ball with the rosin bag; neither shall the pitcher nor any other player be permitted to apply rosin from the bag to his glove or dust any part of his uniform with the rosin bag.

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  4. Dave L says:

    Again this is one of these cases where many are being naive.

    Same as the Peralta episode. Bucholtz, Lee and Peralta are not even remotely rare in using something to get a grip. They are only rare in the fact that they are being singled out and accused. In Peraltas case it was inside information, in Bucholtz case it was being blatantaly obvious and in Lee's case it was the biggest name Hayhurst could think to drop.

    After the series Greg Zaun was being interviewed who is now with the Jays broadcast team, He thought the entire situation was comical. As a journeyman catcher, with us briefly, he basically said everyone does something from time to time.

    He noted that its funny these days pitchers come out with hair dripping wet like Bucholz locks as if he were in the midst of a mid august lather even before the game starts, that guys get liquids in thier hair they can go to. He said suntan lotion is very commonly used as well.

    That Zaun interview should be required reading for those of you who are surprised and think these pitchers are the 'cheaters'

    He also noted that it was the announcers were the ones to call it out the Player and when the opposing manager had a chance to weigh in he steered clear as he didnt want to go their because he knew his guys weren't choirboys.

    The only guys to fault are Bucholtz for being too obvious, Davey for breaking the unwritten rule and Announcers who know better by not putting it in the proper context.

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  5. Mr. Smith 1980 says:

    Call me old fashioned, but I don't like the unwritten rules when they pertain to cheating. In the case of exchanging "plunks" for various transgressions, and not stealing bases when you're up by 10 I'm all for the unwritten rules, but that's not cheating, that's sportsmanship and a general understanding of the sport's tradition.

    When it comes down to "everybody cheats a little" so let's not make a big deal out of it, well that's when I draw the line; that's the sort of unwritten rule mentality that led to the steroid era. The slope is slippery when half lies become the truth- in baseball and in life.

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  6. S says:

    sure you can use the rosin bag as much as needed, but it's a powder. can you smear a paste or thick rosin on your arm and then dab at it during the game?

    what's the difference between Peralta putting it inside his glove vs on his arm? i'm pretty sure Bucholtz is wrong in this situation.

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    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      Peralta was using pine tar... very different.

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      • Bill says:

        Not different, read the ruleI posted above. It is clear that putting rosin on a ball is viewed no differently than any other foreign substance. They went to lengths to spell out what you can and cannot do with the rosin bag to ensure that clarify.

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  7. S says:

    are we sure it wasn't pine tar on his arm.

    rosin is a powder, what he had on his arm was a paste.

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  8. Evan says:

    Just a little nugget here: Pouring water on one's head, especially pitchers with long hair, and then touching the wet hair with one's pitching hand already having rosin and sweat on it is - or at least used to be - considered an attempt to manipulate the baseball in such a way as to gain more control over it or make it break harder. Back in the good ol' days, this form of a pitch was called a spitball. (Yes, I am aware that this is/was not the only formula for creating a spitball. There are several methods...) Spitballs, or spitters, have been outlawed since the 50's... Clay Buchholz said in his interview that he wasn't cheating, but that before every inning in which he pitches, he pours a bottle of water over his head. He also said the patch on his arm was rosin, which is used by a large percentage of the pitchers in MLB. So unless I am sorely mistaken, Mr. Buchholz essentially admitted to cheating, whether he's aware of it or not. Please feel free to chime in and correct me if I am wrong, fellow Rays fans.

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    • Bill says:

      This is exactly what I have been saying. And the rule excerpt above shows that rosin is not some specially approved substance that is therefore not cheating. Buchholz, his catcher and his manager all essentially admitted that he is cheating whether he and they realize it or not.

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  9. S says:

    evan, am i right about the rosin? wasn't it a paste type substance on his arm instead of a powder like in the bag?

    pitchers are only allowed to use the dry powder not some mystery paste on his arm.

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  10. Bill says:

    Right. His catcher said it was a mixture of rosin with water. Either way, dry or paste, having it on your body and especially intentionally using it in that way is against the rules.

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