This week, there was quite a flap with Cardinals reliever Giovanny Gallegos having his hat confiscated by umpires, with Joe West subsequently tossing his manager, Mike Shildt, who’d expressed displeasure at his pitcher getting singled out.
With Joe West coming to Wrigley Field this weekend, people wondered if there would be more hat-related shenanigans thanks to Craig Kimbrel’s famously dirty cap. Sure enough, West spoke to Kimbrel before the game. And note that Kimbrel’s hat today for his save – which was smooth and easy, by the way – was much cleaner than usual:
Joe West confers with Craig Kimbrel as he comes out to the bullpen between innings.
Have to wonder what the discussion was about after the White Sox/Cardinals series. pic.twitter.com/qsqDiEaFgJ
— Braggs In The Stands (@BraggsInStands) May 28, 2021
Craig Kimbrel's cap last time out, and then today after Joe West talked to him before his outing. I think you can do the math on what happened.
(If only there were some WHITE substance that pitchers had all over their hands … ) pic.twitter.com/LUHDUaLAvI
— Bleacher Nation Cubs (@BleacherNation) May 28, 2021
Ross confirms @itsthebigs report of Kimbrel having conversation in game with Joe West about his cap. “I was aware of the conversation… he and Joe worked that out. I’ll keep that in house.”
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) May 28, 2021
So, on the one hand, I do like that West spoke with Kimbrel BEFORE he took the mound, so it wasn’t a whole to-do. On the other hand, it’s like, if Kimbrel were cheating, I don’t think it’d be because he was putting pine tar – white pine tar! – on his cap for the last DECADE in the most obvious and visible way ever.
Note that this isn’t the first time Kimbrel’s cap has come up this year, though. The Mets commented on the spot earlier this season, though they stopped short of specifically alleging any cheating.
The spotlight is on pitchers using illegal grip substances to improve their spin rates and pitch movement, and I do appreciate MLB’s task there. I strongly doubt that’s what is going on with Kimbrel’s cap (which might have been taken and sent to MLB; we don’t know for sure yet). I think you’re seeing a hat that is covered with spit and rosin and dirt and hasn’t been cleaned in a very long time because that’s how baseball players are. But whatever. Kimbrel pitched quite well with his new cap, and it’ll be dirty again soon enough.