The headline there explains what this is about, but if you aren’t as terminally online as I am, maybe you haven’t see the very sensitive and tender videos of an umpire rubbing Cleveland Guardians reliever James Karinchak’s hair.
This is one of the videos:
Outside of it just being really funny, we all know what that’s about. Karinchak, one of the more obvious sticky-stuff users back in its heyday, saw his spin rate and success plummet after the sticky stuff enforcement came last year. But he has since rebounded significantly in both spin rate and results, so it’s been fair to wonder whether he’d found a new way to get back on the stuff, so to speak.
So that was my assumption when I saw those clips. I had a chuckle, and I figured it was just a hair check based on all this stuff.
And that is what it was, but it was actually a little more silly than that.
Jomboy broke the whole sequence down in a video today, and it does a good job summing up why it came to the hair check. Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli clearly felt like he HAD to ask the umpire to check, because Karinchak just kept going to the hair again and again and again, after he would test out the ball to see how it felt. Then after the check, Karinchak got even more deliberate about it – just really unbelievable stuff.
A very enjoyable and informative watch:
The funny thing is, as Jomboy points out, Karinchak likely wouldn’t be going to the rosin bag as often as he was if he had the classic sticky stuff in his hair. You’d want that to go straight to the ball. It’s more likely that Karinchak – like many other pitchers – has figured out a way to use sweat and rosin, combined as best as possible, to create some additional tack. Perfectly legal for now.
All in all, I think everyone handled the situation appropriately, as hilarious as it may have looked.
Contrast with the umpire who was VERY WEIRDLY checking Madison Bumgarner’s hand.