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Ball Sticks to Molina, Molina Sticks to His Story

I’ve seen a baseball get stuck in glove webbing, in a jersey, in the outfield padding, and in a few other places. But until yesterday I’d never seen one get stuck in a chest protector!

That’s what happened after Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina blocked a pitch in the dirt and the ball somehow adhered to his gear. Here’s a replay from a different angle:

The pitch went as a dropped third strike, allowing the batter — Cubs pinch hitter Matt Szczur — to reach base. He later scored.

Why did the ball get stuck? Apparently because Molina had some pine tar, or some sort of sticky substance, on his chest protector:

Molina denied it after the game, responding to a reporter’s question about the incident by saying, “Do I put anything on my chest protector? That’s a dumb question.”

Actually, it’s a perfectly reasonable question, given what happened. And unless someone else can suggest a perfectly reasonable answer, I think we all know what the real answer is.

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Click to enlarge

Single file: Rare sight last night in Tampa, as Marcus Stroman of the Jays and Blake Snell of the Rays hooked up in a battle of single-digitized starting pitchers. When’s the last time that happened? Has it ever happened?

I asked ESPN Stats & Information to help me answer those questions. The results can be found in this ESPN piece that I wrote late last night. Fun stuff!

(Double-digit thanks to Matt Teubner and Adam Duchesneau” for letting me know about Stroman and Snell starting last night’s game.)

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Friday Flashback: 1974 was an important year for NFL headgear, as the Chargers became the first team to go with team-colored facemasks (and the Chiefs also changed to white masks, although I consider that to be a somewhat lesser milestone). Today I have a really fun Friday Flashback piece on ESPN that looks at how the Chargers came up with that yellow mask — and how it almost didn’t happen. Check it out here.

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: The top banner on the Cleveland Indians’ Twitter page features a photo of SS Francisco Lindor. At one point on Wednesday, the photo showed Lindor with a blank left sleeve, but then they replaced that with a version showing the Wahoo sleeve patch. Looks like they Photoshopped the patch out of the photo and then changed their minds (from @reidling1986 and Matt Brown). … Speaking of Wahoo, Taylor Nicolaisen spotted this sticker on a lamppost in Rapid City, S.D. — “where we have a big Native American population and strained racial relations,” he adds. It’s available for download here. … You may recall that there was a movement to have Amherst College replace its mascot, Lord Jeff, named after Lord Jeffery Amherst, who among things supported giving smallpox-contaminated blankets to Native Americans. That process is now complete: The school’s teams will henceforth be known as the Mammoths (from @hockeyinthecac).

Baseball News: Chris Sale is wearing No. 41 for the Red Sox, but he’s still using his old No. 49 cleats from the White Sox (good spot by Zachary Gilley). … The white ad panel at Busch Stadium that supposedly caused Cubs 2B Javier Baez to misplay a ground ball is being changed, although it seems like the ones used in yesterday’s game were even worse (from Tyler K and Jeff Ryder, respectively). … The Durham Bulls are marking their 20th season as a Tampa Bay affiliate with a Rays-themed uni. Note the Devil Rays-themed cap! (From @UpriseNole.) … Interesting note from Charles Noerenberg, who writes: “In Tuesday’s White Sox makeup opener, Melky Cabrera and José Abreu had both applied some substance to their new matte batting helmets to make them appear like the old glossy version. I’m not sure what it was, but it seemed to be clear, not pine tar. Guess they’re not fans of the new look?” … This is pretty funny:’s head shots for the Braves starting rotation shows four guys in non-Braves caps. … Here’s a visual timeline of the Tigers’ old English D logo (from Jeremy Troia). … The row of purple seats that mark the mile-high point at Coors Field have been updated to the Rockies’ new shade of purple. … The Class-A Charleston RiverDogs — a Yankees affiliate — have added a big “NY” sleeve insignia (from Daren Stoltzfus). … Here’s a gallery showing all of the new MLB sock designs that have been released so far. There will be more to come. … In a related item: The Diamondbacks wore their Thursday throwbacks last night, and Robbie Ray had some very interesting socks (which weren’t shown in that gallery I just linked to). It’s a nice sock design, but it was never worn with that uniform back in the day, so it’s not period-appropriate. What do you think: Okay or not okay? … UC Irvine is going GI Joke later this month. … Brewers OF Keon Broxton, who wears a protective faceguard on his batting helmet, was beaned by a pitch yesterday and now says his faceguard saved his life (from Andrew Cosentino). … Earlier this week I noted that the Astros had put their lame-o marketing slogan on the back of the mound for their home opener. They did it again for their second game, and I had the queasy feeling that it was going to be a season-long thing. But let the record show that they had a clean mound for their third game, on Wednesday. Phew. … The Mets’ new alternate home cap — basically the same as last year’s alternate home cap but with a blue brim instead of orange (or, if you prefer, basically the same as their primary cap but with white outlining on the logo) — made its on-field debut last night. … And speaking of the Mets, Matt Fratboy covered up the maker’s mark on his undershirt. Definitely a more elegant solution than breathing Ethier. … Really interesting article on how baseball uniforms should be retooled to enhance player performance. The results would probably look like shite, but the article is well-written and often persuasive. Strongly recommended (thanks, Phil). … What do you get when one of the world’s greatest living graphic designers combines the Cardinals’ birds on the bat with naturalist John James Audubon’s painting of northern cardinals? This (big thanks to the Tugboat Captain). … Here’s a weird one: The MLB logo and additional baseball imagery will now start appearing on a trucking company’s tractor trailers, part of a new sponsorship advertising deal (from Maximiliano). … Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson threw out the first pitch at last night’s D-backs game and was wearing a D-backs jersey with SrOB. Does that mean he’s planning to add the generational suffix to his NFL jersey? (From Patrick Sesty.) … Good article on outfield mowing patterns (from Jerry Wolper). … Cleveland P Corey Kluber has become the first MLBer to have 3D-printed plates inside his cleats. The plates are biomechanically engineered to maximize his performance (from Chris Bisbee). … The Diamondbacks have become the second MLB team to install a humidor for storing game balls.

NFL News: Jaguars WR Allen Hurns apparently did a photo shoot while wearing the team’s black jersey and mustard Color Rash pants. I think that looks pretty good, although the two-tone helmet would still ruin it, of course. Still, I hope we get to see this combo on the field. … This was in the baseball section, but I’ll put it here too, just in case: Cardinals RB David Johnson threw out the first pitch at last night’s Arizona D-backs game and was wearing a D-backs jersey with SrOB. Does that mean he’s planning to add the generational suffix to his NFL jersey? (From Patrick Sesty.)

College Football News: Boise State will have new helmets, with a slogan rather than a logo, for tomorrow’s spring game. How many other examples are there of a slogan being used on the side of a helmet? (Thanks, Phil.)

Hockey News: Here’s a time-lapse showing how the United Center got a makeover for the Frozen Four. … Speaking of the Frozen Four, Minnesota-Duluth G Hunter Miska has a special mask design (from Tris Wykes). … Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson made his NHL debut last night with the Bruins and sported a prodigious 17-letter (and 18-character) HNOB. Too bad the Bruins’ three-color lettering and the compressed font made it illegible (from Jeff Israel).

Basketball News: A recent Jeopardy! contestant, provided with a really easy clue, blew the game by misidentifying the Raptors as the Timberwolves (from Eddie Lee). … A high school girls’ basketball coach in Indiana is about to lose his job. Among the reasons: “First, he didn’t wear enough Greenfield-Central apparel” (from Derek Linn). … A judge in North Carolina has extended his tradition of wearing a Carolina blue robe on the bench when UNC wins the national championship (from James Gilbert). … If you think the 2015 NBA All-Star uniforms were minimalist, check out the unis from this 1971 NBA vs. ABA exhibition. Interesting that the shoulder straps were so wide, almost like a sleeveless tee — I didn’t realize that style was worn on the court so early. … This is pretty awesome: an animated Lego basketball gamea (from my old pal Hugo Lindgren).

Soccer News: It’s a little hard to see, but here’s a 1967 shot of Asher Welch of the old Baltimore Bays with FiNOB. It’s even harder to see that his brother/teammate Art Welch also had FiNOB (from Jerry Wolper). … 70th-anniversary logo for CSKA Sofia, a Bulgarian club (from Ed Å»elaski”). … New uniforms for the Pohnpei, a Micronesia soccer team. Here at Uni Watch, we cover everything! (From Taylor Action.) … Kilmarnock FC has put a soccer pitch outline on its locker room floor, so the coaching staff can map out strategy (from Mark Coale). … A Brazilian team appears to be using its uni numbers to sell grocery products (from Kleber Ancona).

Grab Bag: Here’s what some of the top golfers will be wearing at the Masters (from Ryan Lindemann). … Here are the Indy car liveries for this weekend’s Long Beach Grand Prix (from Tim Dunn). … Russia has banned images of President Vladimir Putin in makeup. … Check out this Indian cricket player — or at least I think that’s what league this is — wearing No. 999. … Great note from longtime reader Kenn Tomasch, who writes: “I was in Fort Myers, Fla., the other day, where a friend of mine is the Director of Sales & Marketing for HeadPinz, one of those new bowling/entertainment complexes that has the standard 16 lanes, sports bar, laser tag, gaming room, etc. But they have this very cool section that has proven to be very popular with the many retirees who populate Southwest Florida: They imported a set of four very old lanes and machines from an old bowling facility that was being torn down. The wood is vintage (so old, in fact, that is has no markings on it), and the pins are reset manually by two youngsters who actually roll the bowlers’ balls back to them. There’s no electronic scoring — they bring in someone to sit at a desk at the head of the thing to keep score manually.” So cool! Lots of photos here.

Comments (97)

    Football games don’t get much better uni-wise than that Chargers/Chiefs ’74 match up. Gorgeous.

    Chargers looked so much better before they went to navy as a significant color.

    Man, that Astros ad slogan is disappointing. The space program is chock-full of great options for turning famous sayings into an Astros motto. “Failure is not an option,” “Go flight,” “One giant leap” – heck, come August, there’s even, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

    “an animated Lego basketball gamea”

    As far as socks with throwbacks go, the Pirates wore black socks, sometimes with gold stripes, with their black throwback pants, instead of the original solid gold (stirrups).

    Great content in this build today, Paul!

    One question re: Baseball Section “4 guys wearing non braves hats”. If julio teheran isnt wearing a braves cap, then what is it?

    Keep up the great work

    RE: The Ft. Myers bowling place….

    “There’s no electronic scoring”


    ” – they bring in someone to sit at a desk at the head of the thing to keep score manually.”


    In the wide shot, you can see two little desks at the head of the lanes. The facility provides a person to sit there and keep score so the bowlers can just bowl and have fun. I don’t know why that would be a WTF moment.

    Part of the fun of bowling is knowing how to keep score. Every group that comes in to play surely has someone who can do the necessary arithmetic. It sounds to me like the facility has people to keep track of how many frames or games have been played, in order to ensure correct billing. Or maybe so few bowlers know how to keep score anymore that someone has to do it for them.

    Keeping score isn’t just fun — it’s part of being engaged in the game. It’s no accident that bowling’s popularity has declined as electronic scoring has become more prevalent. People who don’t even understand the game will be less inclined to play the game.

    Part of the fun of bowling is knowing how to keep score.

    But perhaps the old people who come in don’t all WANT to do that.

    Given they rent that particular area out for the night for groups often, how many frames or games they play is immaterial.

    But, hey, I’m sure your friend is the Sales and Marketing guy there, and not mine, so you’re probably right.

    Both of the links of Lindor’s sleeve shows Wahoo on the shoulder. Wonder if anyone has a screen grab of the Wahoo-less sleeve

    Honestly, doing a daily post, with so many links, you do a pretty good job keeping them all in order

    I think the reason that Jags combo looks so good is because the blurriness of the photos *almost* make them look Steeler-ish.

    I agree that there’s a Steelers-esque aspect to it, but I really like how the teal on the shoulders plays against the mustard pants.

    Could the ball have stuck to Molina’s chest protector because there was something on the ball rather than something on the chest protector?

    sure but that’s even less likely since the exact spot on the ball would have had to make contact. I’m sure there was stuff on the ball too, which molina puts there for the pitcher. MLB gonna need a rule about crap on the catchers, now if they’d just make them stop putting pinetar on helmets.

    I remember many years ago in an interview Whitey Ford laughing about the umps never bothering to check the catcher.

    Exactly! In Ball Four, Jim Bouton wrote about how Elston Howard would sharpen his shinguard buckles to cut the ball for Whitey. And on wet/muddy days, Howard would momentarily lose his balance while down in his squat and put his hand down — with the ball still in it — to steady himself.

    The story about Clint Frazier should be removed, it turned out to be a completely unfounded story, link.

    I thought I saw a Tweet last night that Forsbacka Karlsson does NOT have a hyphen and the one on the uniform was in error.

    The Chargers became the first NFL team to wear colored masks… the actual first teams to ever do it were the Bell and the Wheels of the WFL… beat the Chargers by about a month, simply because the WFL season started in July.

    3 of the 9 CFL teams were wearing coloured masks by 1976. BC Lions with orange masks, Calgary Stampeders with red masks, and Montreal Alouettes with white masks.

    Though I do not believe that any of the teams were wearing coloured masks as early as 1974. Unless any Canadian football fans have other evidence?

    I didn’t realize the Chiefs ever wore white socks with that striping.

    I think Paul could do an entire piece just on the beauty of the pic used for the today’s lead item.

    You may recall that there was a movement to have Amherst College replace its mascot, Lord Jeff, named after Lord Jeffery Amherst, who among things supported giving smallpox-contaminated blankets to Native Americans. That process is now complete: The school’s teams will henceforth be known as the Mammoths (from @hockeyinthecac).

    I LOVE IT!! Amherst put some brains on it, and improved their nickname. They didn’t choose Panthers, Redhawks, Caring Geldings, or The Green Breeze, but a mascot I would actually pay cash money to put on my clothing! Kudos all around.

    Yeah but if the issue was with Lord Amherst, shouldn’t they change the name of the school, too?

    Amherst College officials have always said the college is named after the town, not Lord Jeffery.

    My Kyoto Yakitori shirt came in the post yesterday; I’m wearing it now. Mark down another satisfied customer!

    Go easy on the Jeopardy contestant that missed Raptors. I’m sure you all know the literature and physics Final Jeopardy clues as well. link

    I think the use of “Matt Fratboy” as a nickname for Matt Harvey is so off-putting. Why is he a “fratboy”? Because he has said he wants to wear nice clothes? Because he talked about a sexual escapade on a late night TV show? Aren’t there far more egregious offenders (Wilt Chamberlain, Joe Namath, just to name a few) that would qualify on those grounds?

    I’m not a frat guy. Never been in one, never really understood it, so I don’t have a dog in the fight. But I just think it’s a little silly to decide to paint the guy with that brush without much more than — in my view — a relatively tame public persona to base it on.

    If you think he as “a relatively tame public persona,” you haven’t been paying very close attention. He’ll always be Matt Fratboy to me, and that’s what I’ll continue to call him. But if you would prefer to refer to him by a different sobriquet — Matt DudeBro, say — I’d be fine with that.

    Also, regarding “nice clothes”: Let’s remember that we’re talking about a guy who liked to be seen at trendy menswear shops while he link (scroll down). Very sophisticated!

    Why the intercaps on DudeBro but not Fratboy? Also, “dude” and “bro” connote very different stereotypes, both in terms of content and in terms of positive or negative feelings for most people. Please don’t paint dudes with the broad pejorative brush of bros. A dude might abide, but a bro just offends.

    Somewhat less kiddingly, my problem with “Matt Fratboy” is that it doesn’t have any poetic ring with his actual name. If we wanted to insult comic-book writer Matt Fraction, “Matt Fratboy” would be a perfect line. But “Harvey” to “Fratboy”? Falls flat to me, and feels a bit rote. Something like Matt Blutarvey, for example, would be more cutting.

    Why the intercaps on DudeBro but not Fratboy?

    Because “dude” and “bro” are two separate terms being grafted together, while “fratboy” is one term. (Come on, you already knew that. You just wanted an excuse to say “intercaps”!)

    And I’m not looking for “poetic ring,” Scott. I’m just calling him by the name that makes sense to me. If it doesn’t make sense to you, so be it.

    If I’d known that “intercaps” was a word, I’d have looked for an excuse to use it too.

    re. the article about retooling baseball uniforms. I don’t find the argument from sportswear designers that modernizing uniforms will lead to improved performance convincing. I agree that they can improve comfort, but I think it is a stretch to think that automatically leads to improved performance.

    I’m a Cards fan, and the only logical thing I can think of is pine tar on the chest protector, certainly more likely than the ball having a little on it (it was a little chilly here at game-time yesterday) and hitting Yadi in the just the correct way that it sticks. Surely it should be pretty easy to find screenshots proving or disproving this.

    Reminds me of ’06 World Series, it was blatantly obvious to everyone watching at home Kenny Rogers (the Tigers SP, not the singer/songwriter) had pine tar on his hand. Rather than basically get Rogers ejected, Tony La Russa elected to simply ask Rogers to wash it off. Was it because TLR was good buddies with fellow old-timer Jim Leyland? Perhaps. Of course, taking that action would have opened his own pitchers up to closer scrutiny, as well. Not saying they were doing the same thing on that cold October night in Michigan, but it could well be one of those “I won’t tell if you don’t” sort of things.

    I seem to remember Rogers wearing a BP cap rather than a regular game cap during that game. I guess schmutz shows up better on a gray underbill as opposed to black.

    I saw a similar story a while back about Bill Walsh and Bill Parcells. Giants came into SF and their headsets were “malfunctioning.” Parcells did without them but made sure Walsh knew it was the last time he’d let it go without some retribution or complaint filed. The sense was you could do stuff like that once.

    Minor correction for the NHL section: Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson didn’t make his NHL debut last night, he just skated with the team in warm-ups. He did not play.

    I grew up going to NESCAC football games, and the Lord Jeffs were one of many quirky nicknames in that league that I loved: the Ephs, Jumbos, Bantams, Continentals, Mules, Polar Bears… good stuff. Of course, I had no idea about the origin of the Lord Jeffs name. It’s a bummer.

    Many ballplayers use a clear spray on grip, like Marucci’s Hitter’s Grip Spray, instead of pine tar -I’m guessing that’s what’s on Molina’s chest protector, and Cabrera & Abreu’s helmets as well.

    I thought the new alt caps looked fine with the softball tops; blue bill vs. orange bill is probably a wash, although the blue-billed version with the white-outlined crest merely emphasizes how utterly unnecessary these alt caps are.

    Notice when the ball was removed from Molina’s chest protector that the vinyl came off with it. That would not happen if a sticky substance was added to it or the ball. This is all about the material used on the surface of the chest protector.

    You wrote “(and the Chiefs also changed to white masks, although I consider that to be a somewhat lesser milestone)”

    How is that “lesser”?
    I mean the Chiefs could have picked red, yellow, even black (or kept them gray), but chose white.
    Lesser because of the color? Or are you referring to something else?


    I disagree with your assessment. Both teams should get equal credit, even if they did it for different reasons.


    You’re welcome to disagree, but my assessment was not based on the reasons behind why they did it. Go back and re-read what I wrote.

    I read the ticker and the ESPN piece. The Charger story may be more interesting, but the Chiefs – in my opinion – get as much credit as the Chargers, there is no difference of effect.


    Like I said, you’re welcome to disagree. Just don’t mischaracterize what I said. I didn’t give the Chargers more credit because their story is “more interesting.” What I said in the ESPN story is that white facemasks seem less notable to me because (a) white is by definition a team/uniform color for *every* NFL team, and is therefore somewhat neutral, and (b) white facemasks had already been worn by some players in the 1960s, so a whole team wearing white seems less revolutionary than a whole team wearing yellow.

    Again, you’re welcome to disagree. But if you’re going to counter my arguments, at least try to counter the arguments I actually made instead of putting words in my mouth. Thanks.

    Yeah, I totally disagree with your assessment.
    I didn’t mean to infer that your reason was that the Charger story was more interesting, that was actually my own opinion.

    While doing this piece, were you aware that the WFL had two team make their on field debut of colored face masks before the NFL teams did in 1974?
    Based on your story and the masks the WFL teams wore (Dungard), I bet it was the face mask makers idea. Just speculation though.


    Confession: No, I was not aware of the colored WFL masks. That’s on me.

    But the Chargers still had the idea first. Bob Hood and Sid Brooks went to that sporting goods expo in Chicago in 1973. Only the NFL’s requirement for one year’s notice on uniform changes kept the design off the field until ’74.

    Chances are that Dungard spilled the news to the WFL, which is interesting in that the Chargers were trying to keep it hush-hush.


    That’s just speculation on your part. The WFL teams could have come up with the idea on their own. They might have considered colored masks to be a way to differentiate themselves from the NFL, etc.

    Of course, that too is just speculation. We don’t know the real story. Which is why we shouldn’t toss around terms like “chances are.”

    “Too bad the Bruins’ three-color lettering and the compressed font made it illegible”.

    Curiously, the white jerseys have two color NOBs.

    They should have two colors at most, period. NOBs really should be just one-color whenever possible, though, and not more than two.

    “Really interesting article on how baseball uniforms should be retooled to enhance player performance. The results would probably look like shite, but the article is well-written and often persuasive. Strongly recommended.”

    You know, I’m surprised to hear myself say this, but the mock-up of the Blue Jays jersey used as an illustration in the article doesn’t look half bad. Maybe it’s the slimmer cut, which looks way better, in my opinion, than the baggy pajamas that so many players still insist on wearing.

    I hope our old friend link has seen this article, because it appears to be right up his alley. The proposed uniforms conform pretty closely to his concept of “the Ultimate Baseball Look.”

    Please don’t get that guy started. It’s like calling for Beetlejuice to show up.

    ” I do not see what the big deal is with Molina’s chest protector.”

    ~~ Fred Biletnikoff

    The IPL team involved is the Kolkata Knight Riders, their kit can be found here as a better picture. link

    Also, he’s not the only one who wears triple digits, Chris Gayle, playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore, sports 333 on all of his T20 and ODI jerseys in reference to his highest made score in tests, 333 runs.

    Jeez. How sticky do you think pine tar is? Sticky enough for an invisibly small patch of it to adhere a heavy baseball to fabric? Superglue? Maybe, if you give it a minute to dry.

    No. This is a mechanical snag of the stitching on the baseball and the tough fabric of the chest protector. A simple 1 in a million snag.

    “A simple one in a million snag”?

    I am willing to bet (and I mean *really* bet, with real money, not just speaking metaphorically) that it would take a lot more than one million repetitions to produce the same result. Like, a LOT more. Like, probably an infinite number more.

    So let’s find a pitching machine and a mannequin, because I’m gonna win a bunch of money from you!

    Wait… you don’t seriously think that a thread of the ball snagged on the chest protector? Do you?


    pfft. Okay, forgive this common phrase’s mathematical inexactitude. Billion to one snag? 55.14 billion to 1? Whatever. Good look with your infinite iterations attempting to get a spot of pine tar to hold up a baseball.

    1) Who says it’s pine tar? That’s too visible. If it is an adhesive substance, it’s the clear spray that José Abreu and Melky Cabrera use.

    2) Who says that the outer layer of Molina’s chest protector is fabric? It may very well be, but it might be plastic (which would make it similar to the chest protectors that umpires wear).

    I would bet that with a lot fewer than a million chances, I could take a baseball and a catcher’s pad and rub them together to get the baseball stitches to stick to that rough velcro-y like catcher pad. All it takes is one hook-like fiber and one loop-like fiber and voila.

    Quantum mechanics says there’s a chance the ball will pass through Yadi entirely and hit the umpire.

    That used to happen to me all the time playing youth ball: I’d swing, and quantum fluctuations would cause the ball to pass entirely through my bat. Somehow, the ball never seemed to pass through the catcher’s mitt.

    That’s odd. I was a catcher, and the ball passed through my mitt all the time.

    Perhaps you needed that metaphysical bat, with a hole right through the sweet spot.

Comments are closed.