Did Mariano Rivera Throw a Spitball? (Watch Video)

Did Mariano Rivera Throw a Spitball? (Watch Video)Is the greatest closer of all time a spitball hurler?

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim fans are accusing New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera of throwing a spitball in Monday’s ALCS game. And this kerfuffle has become such a big deal Tuesday that Major League Baseball has reportedly investigated the incident.

Here’s the story. Halos Heaven, a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim fan site, was the first to notice that Rivera was spitting during the game. The site did a shot-by-shot look at Rivera spitting towards the ball:

“After his last warmup pitch, Mariano Rivera walks towards the back of the mound, looks at 2nd base area, then 3rd base area, and then down at the ball and spits directly onto the ball as Fox quickly cuts to a shot of Mike Scioscia. About 15 seconds later he delivers his first pitch to [Erick] Aybar, for a called strike on the corner.”

Here are two videos of the disputed play – one at regular speed, and one in slow motion:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KihPKUZni8Y

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-KGmVqN-kA

This story become such a big deal in the blogosphere Tuesday that according to New York Post columnist Joel Sherman, Major League Baseball has reportedly investigated the matter and “found no evidence that Rivera spit on the ball.” Sherman writes:

The initial reaction by the league had been that the video plus still pictures they have of the incident were inconclusive if Rivera actually spit on or near the ball. But after further review of what they had, the Commissioners Office determined that Rivera was not spitting directly on the ball.

Sherman’s New York Post report notes that nobody has ever accused Rivera of throwing a spitball before. Sherman also writes:

There is no attempt by Rivera to hide what he is doing. He is facing toward the outfield, but in the playoffs that leaves him in the direct line of sight of at least three umpires. He is not rubbing the ball up or massaging it in his glove as is often the case when a ball is being doctored.

My own thoughts? While it’s clear that Rivera did look both ways before spitting, which seems suspicious, it’s less clear that his spit landed directly on the ball. But if it did, there’s a certain irony here. On the very next pitch – a bunt attempt by Aybar – Rivera bobbled throwing the ball to Alex Rodriguez at third base, for whatever that’s worth. So if Mo did hock a loogie, there’s a chance – albeit a very slim one – that it could have caused him to heave the ball when throwing it to third.

But I think it’s more likely that Rivera was just trying to get a grip – literally – on the ball. Maybe a spit is just a spit.

Photo by Keith Allison

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Lisa Swan, a lifelong Yankee fan, grew up in Passaic, N.J., where her favorite player was the talented but insecure Reggie Jackson. Today she lives on Staten Island, where her favorite player is the t ...read more

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