Brendan Donnelly used to be one of the very best relievers in baseball. He didn't make the majors until he was 30, and in his second season he made the All-Star team as a setup man. That's hard to do. Easier when your manager is picking the reserves, but still hard to do. And based on when Donnelly came up (2002), you'd think that a sudden success like that might have something to do with illegal substances. You'd be right.
But Donnelly's success didn't just have to do with the substances listed in the Mitchell Report. He was also a known pine-tar user, getting suspended 10 games for an incident against the Nationals in 2005. And in light of Joel Peralta's ejection and likely suspension, Donnelly doesn't see what the big deal is about the sticky stuff:
"The way I look at it is Peralta didn't do anything wrong, and I didn't do anything wrong," Donnelly told the Times. "It's not cheating, not about having the ball do funky things. It's about getting a grip.
I've asked dozens of hitters about this: 'Do you want me to throw 90-plus knowing what the ball is going to do, or do you want me to risk letting it slip?' They all want the pitcher to have control. So pine tar should be legal."
Compelling argument, actually. Not likely a successful one, but it makes sense. Alas, Joe Torre and Bud Selig aren't likely to be swayed, and if Donnelly's suspension is any guide, Peralta could miss up to ten games.