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Upon further review, Mo didn't cheat

From Joel Sherman, some truly shocking news (not):

    The Major League Baseball Commissioners Office reviewed available video and still photography from Mariano Rivera spitting toward a baseball in ALCS Game 3 and “found no evidence that Rivera spit on the ball,” a spokesman for the commissioner told the Post.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 it had, the Commissioners Office determined that Rivera was not spitting directly on the ball.

    On still pictures in MLB's possession, it apparently looks as if Rivera is spitting near, but not on, the ball. Also, as even the league office is aware, Rivera is a player who spits constantly while in action.

As most of you know, I live out West. I tend to stay up fairly late, so by the time I turn on my computer in the morning it's fairly late back East. So I was fairly late to this particular party. But when I first heard about this, I thought, "You have to be kidding."

Why on earth would Mariano throw a spitball? If he was going to throw one, why would he be so obvious about it? And why would he choose the American League Championship Series as the moment in which to throw his first spitball?

Yes, that last is a bit hyperbolic. But I've been watching Rivera pitch for a long, long time, and I've never seen him throw a single pitch that behaved remotely like a spitball. Aside from the general nature of crazy anti-Yankee baseball fans, I think the confusion is due to the public's unfamiliarity with the spitball.

A spitball is a funny pitch. A real spitball behaves something like a knuckleball, diving and twisting when the batter least expects it. But nobody throws spitballs anymore. It's too easy to detect, what with half a dozen cameras staring at the pitcher throughout his preparation for each pitch. And it's not really necessary, not with the circle changeup and the splitter available to any pitcher who needs a little wrinkle.

And Rivera famously doesn't need a wrinkle, as he throws one of the single most devastating pitches that's ever been thrown.

This is a silly little "story" that's done little but waste the time of some busy people at Major League Baseball.