An incredulous Scherzer complied, but he and Nats skipper Davey Martinez were visibly livid with Girardi after the referee team gave us the shocking visual of running a hand through Scherzer’s hair before finally the wipe off.
Scherzer, who had already been checked after the first and third innings on Tuesday, could visibly be seen shouting, “I’ve been sweating! to Girardi as he ran his hand through his hair and walked back to the mound. He escaped the round unscathed, finished five frames on his return from IL and finally watched Girardi as he left the field for the last time.
Other fireworks ensued. Girardi was sent off after entering the field and challenged the opponent’s shelter. While some initially thought he was gesturing to Scherzer, Jomboy artfully points out in a video breakdown that Nats coach Kevin Long, who previously coached under Girardi in New York, was the clear target after hurling choice curses at his former skipper.
Girardi told reporters after the game that he had all the respect in the world for Scherzer’s career, calling him a future Hall of Famer. However, he also claimed (via Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia) that over a decade of watching three-time winner Cy Young: “I never saw him wipe his head like he did this. evening. Never. “
While Girardi insists he wasn’t “playing games” to disrupt Scherzer’s pace on the mound, that defense doesn’t fly with the Nationals. Washington CEO Mike Rizzo didn’t fire any punches this morning when calling Girardi in a weekly radio appearance.
“It’s embarrassing for Girardi,” Rizzo told JP Finlay of 106.7 The Fan (Twitter feed). “It’s embarrassing for the Phillies. Was he playing games? Of course he was. … He’s a crook.
Rizzo isn’t the only one to be noticed in the league. Companion multiple times winner of Cy Young Clayton Kershaw, in his own post-match media session, went out of his way to express his bemusement at Girardi despite not being asked about it initially (video link via SportsNet LA).
“I’ll say this,” Kershaw began. “Do you know how Girardi controlled Scherzer, or called him?” I think there should be some punishment if they don’t catch anything on the guy. Scherzer is one of the best pitchers of our generation. To see him get checked out… and ruin his rhythm, you better find something if you’re going to call him that. Maybe there should be some punishment if a manager is watching a guy and there’s nothing.
When specifically asked if managers can deliberately request a check to disrupt a pitcher, Kershaw acknowledged that this is a “good technique” for managers to use. He suggested that perhaps a failed substance check should lead a team to lose a replay challenge to prevent such play.
“You go into a beat, and maybe you’ve got a guy on the base, and they check you out?” Kershaw continued. “It unsettles you. This is something you are not used to. … I think there should be repercussions for managers who do it on a whim like that, because if you call someone – anyone – but [especially] someone of the caliber of Max Scherzer and you can’t find anything? I think it looks pretty good [Girardi’s] part. “
As for Scherzer himself, he expressed his frustration not only at being called out by Girardi but by the situation in general. The repeated way he ran his hand through his hair, he explained after the game, was aimed at getting some type of moisture to mix with the rosin he was using. (Pitchers are allowed to lick their fingers or use sweat with rosin under current MLB policy.)
“I got tired of licking my fingers and tasting rosin all night long,” Scherzer explained after the game (video link via MLB.com). “I couldn’t even sweat the back of my head because it wasn’t a hot night. The only part that was sweating on me was my hair, so I had to take my hat off so I could try and get some moisture on my hand to mix it with the rosin.
Scherzer laughed, adding that it would be “an absolute idiot” to use any type of substance on a night when the emphasis on such use is at an all time high. He further bemoaned the fact that in the at-bat before Girardi called him he had almost hit Alec Bohm in the head with a 95mph fastball that left its hand due to lack of grip – a common concern we’ve seen voiced by both pitchers and positional players.
In the end, Scherzer focused on Commissioner Rob Manfred: “These are Manfred’s rules – go ask him what he wants to do with this. I have said enough.
Given the ultra-competitive nature of managers and pitchers in the league, the issues that will be at stake as the season progresses and the rather haphazard implementation of the new substance control policy , it is likely that Manfred will indeed have to solve the problem. publicly as soon as possible. The Scherzer / Girardi saga may have been the first dust but surely will not be the last.