A video made the rounds of YouTube on Tuesday showing the Yankees closer looking around and then spitting toward the baseball in his hands during the 10th inning of Monday's game. The next pitch he threw broke like a slider, prompting many to say that Rivera was throwing a spit ball.
Major League Baseball did their due diligence in the matter and, according to the New York Times, found photographic evidence that the spit passed his hand and the ball.
"From the available video and still photography we have, there is no evidence that Rivera spit on the ball," MLB vice president for public relations Patrick Courtney said, according to the newspaper.
Rivera addressed reporters before Tuesday night's game and said he understood that it might have looked like he spit on the ball, but "the angle made it look like it."
"I don't know how it happened," he said. "I laugh at those things, because I don't do those things."
Rivera said he wasn't angry at the accusations.
"No, I laugh at those people. What am I going to get mad for?" he said. "I care about what the fans think about me, but if somebody has followed my career for all these years, I would have to have a lot of spit. I don't care. All that I care is what the fans think. But I don't do that stuff."
At one point, Rivera told reporters, "Hang on a second, I have to spit.''
Saying MLB had not contacted him, Rivera jokingly said that if reporters studied the video and could prove he spit on the ball, he would charter a plane and take them to dinner anywhere in the world.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia wasn't buying it either.
"This is the first I'm hearing about this," he said before Tuesday's game. "I didn't even know that there was any indication that it's been looked at. Never. There are certainly some guys that might be suspect. But never Mariano, with anything that I've heard or been part of. And I'd be shocked if there was anything to that.''
Besides the fact that 45,000 people were in the stands, two umpires were within view and an Angels runner was on second base, petroleum jelly, not spit, is the main ingredient in a spit ball. Spit generally does not have enough weight to radically affect the spin of the ball.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has first-hand knowledge of Rivera's arsenal, having caught him in the late '90s.
"I kind of laughed [when he heard about the video]," he said. "Mo's been throwing one pitch for a long time. I happened to catch him. He was accused of throwing a spitter. The one thing about a spitter is it consistently does not go one way like Mo's ball consistently goes one way. So I kind of laughed at it. MLB has investigated, they have found nothing about it. We just move on. To me it's a dead story. I caught Mo for four years and I know for sure he never did anything."
ESPN.com baseball reporters Jerry Crasnick and Jim Caple contributed to this report.