The back-and-forth between Rays manager Joe Maddon and Nationals manager Davey Johnson over last week's Joel Peralta pine tar incident has caught the attention of former skipper Tony La Russa.
La Russa, speaking to reporters before Sunday's NASCAR race at Sonoma (where he will serve as grand marshal), said Johnson didn't do anything wrong in alerting umpires to the pine tar on Peralta's glove.
"I don't think he's out of line," La Russa said. "I think any time you act within the rules, how can you be out of line? Is there unwritten this, unwritten that? Sometimes. I think some of the players have spouted off a little bit and gotten on each other about it, but, I think Davey was in his (rights)."
La Russa, who now works for the Commissioner's Office and will manage the National League team in the All-Star Game, said that as outsiders, it's tough to tell what's going on between the teams that led up to the incident.
"You've got to be in the competition," he said. "You don't know what's happening between the Rays and the (Nationals). Sometimes, there's a lot of reasons why you do something or don't do something.
"I also have great respect for Joe. And he stuck up for his guy, but he was in the wrong."
A reporter connected the Peralta controversy to the 2006 World Series incident in which Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers had a substance on his hand. In that situation, La Russa chose not to make a public spectacle over Rogers' hand, but instead quietly informed umpires about it.
"The toughest decision by far in 30-plus years was in the World Series was when it was apparent Kenny had stuff on his hand, and (I) decided not to undress him," La Russa said. "I (didn't) want this World Series being known as the 'Pine Tar World Series.' Tough decision."
In the Peralta case, he said, "I don't think they had that choice the other day."
"He had gobs of it," La Russa said. "I work for the Commissioner's Office, I know. He had gobs of it. He got dinged, and he didn't appeal."