Say it ain’t so, Joe.
Max Scherzer was checked for sticky stuff three times on Tuesday night, the second day of MLB’s sweeping enforcement of its new policy against pitchers using Performance Enhancing Sticky Stuff (PESS [we just made that up]).
While Scherzer was checked twice by umpires, Phillies manager Joe Girardi had Scherzer checked once more, leading to Scherzer being visibly annoyed, and a small scuffle later in the game.
The Phillies manager explained his decision to have Scherzer checked again following the loss:
“I’ve seen Max a long time, since 2010,” Girardi said postgame. “Obviously, he’s going to be a Hall of Famer. I’ve never seen him wipe his head like he was doing tonight, ever. It was suspicious for me. He did it four or five times. It was suspicious. I didn’t mean to offend anyone. I just got to do what’s right for our club. …
“I wasn’t challenging the club. There was some coaches screaming at me, coaches I know, and it bothered me. I’m not playing games here. I have respect for people over there, I have respect for what Max has done in his career. But again, I’ve got to do what’s right for my team.”
Girardi’s decision to have Scherzer checked ticked off the Nationals ace and eventually led to a dust-up between Girardi and the Nationals, with Girardi getting tossed for the 40th time in his managerial career.
Scherzer explained he was going to his head to try and grab some kind of moisture from his sweat so he could better grip the baseball.
Girardi said before the game that asking umpires to check pitchers for gamesmanship purposes would be “silly,” meaning that he was really convinced that Scherzer had something on him.
It is worth noting that before the game Phillies manager Joe Girardi said he would not ask an umpire to check a pitcher for gamesmanship purposes. “I’m not going to play games. That’s silly. It’s just if you see something that’s clear cut you’ll probably ask them.”
— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) June 23, 2021
The Phillies and Nats continue their series on Wednesday afternoon.