Chris Carpenter Thinks Baseballs in Cincinnati Are Too Slick
Last September, John Smoltz complained that the balls provided to him at Great American Ball Park were too slick for his liking. Smoltz is gone, but the Cards are still having trouble finding balls to their liking when they visit the Reds. Chris Carpenter started on Opening Day and went straight to the complaint box in the clubhouse (note -- not an actual box) after the game.
"We had this issue last year and again today," Carpenter said. "There was absolutely no question. I got balls that there was nothing wrong with. (Either) they make an adjustment or look into it, (or) ultimately, somebody's going to get hurt. Something's going to get away, or whatever, and end up getting somebody in the head. I hope that doesn't happen."
No Reds pitchers have publicly complained following either of the games in question, a note that is fairly significant. Carpenter's comments seem to cast aspersions on the home team's involvement in giving him glossy baseballs, and there's always a possibility that Dusty Baker has nefarious plots -- ones not having to do with destroying young arms even -- afoot by the Ohio River.
If that's the case, though, someone's going to have to explain how he's gotten the umpires to go along with his conspiracy. Sounds like someone canceled 24 too soon!
Major League Baseball rule 3.01 (c) mandates that it is up to umpires to check the balls used in games and sign off that they have been sufficiently rubbed down with mud to ensure that "the gloss is removed." The rule makes it clear that the umpire is the sole judge of the balls put into play, which means that Carpenter, Smoltz and the rest of the Cardinals have an issue with the umps and not with the Reds.
Carpenter's line makes you wonder how well he would have pitched if he'd had balls that were to his liking. He gave up five hits, struck out three and didn't walk anyone in his six innings of work on Opening Day. That's pretty good for a guy who couldn't get a grip, and we can't help but wondering if the memory of Smoltz's complaints didn't create more of an issue for Carpenter than anything actually with the baseballs.