Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pitcher Wristbands and Bracelets: Flourish or Distraction?

Plate umpire Jim Reynolds instructed Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello to remove a bracelet (CLE Feed / UEFL Video) prior to the first inning of Tuesday's Indians-Tigers game, a gesture unnoticed by either broadcast, but expertly deciphered by Kcreasy, who wrote to us:
After Tigers catcher Avila threw to second before top of the 1st, Reynolds walked out to the mound, handed Porcello a new ball and you could see them talking. Reynolds walked away and you could see Porcello go to his glove hand and remove a bracelet and place it in his back pocket. This was the same crew that had RA Dickey remove a bracelet his daughter made. I took a video of it off my tv...
Felix Hernandez wearing a band? There goes the ad campaign...
MLB Rule 1.15 states that a pitcher's glove may not be distracting in any manner, while 1.11 mandates all uniforms and undershirts be identical and distinctively equivalent. Rule 9.01(c), of course, bestows upon umpires the authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in the Official Baseball Rules.

However, such action may instead fall under the purview of a recent MLB Directive, as eluded to by Mets Manager Terry Collins in August, when this same umpiring crew enforced this same policy, as Crew Chief Jim Joyce requested Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey remove bracelets from his wrist in the midst of a 6-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Joyce received flak for his enforcement of policy when Dickey told reporters, "I was a little bit angry because those were a couple of bracelets my girls had made for me before I went to Kilimanjaro. I'd had them on every day since January."

If indeed MLB sent out a bulletin mid-season with such a policy addendum, umpires were simply enforcing policy and no further issue appears at play. However, problems and controversy arise when rules are enforced inconsistently wherein one umpire allows the item while another orders its removal, especially if this certain alluded-to Directive is a policy that has, in one form or another, been in place for several years. History and precedent support the removal of distracting wrist garb on pitchers.

A 2006 ESPN Page 2 piece addressed the issue of MLB pitchers and players wearing bracelets. In regards to pitchers, the article pointed out that Huston Street often wore a green WWJD bracelet on his glove hand, while Angels Manager Mike Scioscia asked for its removal. A's pitcher Kirk Saarloos was known to have worn a pink Livestrong-style band before being asked by umpires to remove the item.

Even earlier, in 2003, Bobby Cox asked umpires to remove Mets pitcher Jae Weong Seo's Buddhist bracelet.

UEFL Video: Reynolds instructs Porcello to remove bracelet prior to Shin-Soo Choo leadoff AB

8 comments :

Anonymous said...

Terry Collins was set off AFTER the game where Dickey was told to cut off the bracelet for another reason: That was the same day Felix Hernandez pitched his perfect game, and pictures of him celebrating after the final out showed that he was sporting stuff on his wrist as well.

So if it was indeed a league-wide directive, it either didn't reach or wasn't enforced by the crew in Seattle...or just about any other, since these guys have been pitching with them all season.

I somehow get the feeling that if any of these bracelets were licensed MLB products, none of this would have happened.

Double Down for Donuts said...

"I somehow get the feeling that if any of these bracelets were licensed MLB products, none of this would have happened. "

Very well-said. In soccer we don't allow ANYTHING to be worn unless it is for medical or religious reasons.

Anonymous said...

The truth is the rules prohibit it, MLB licensed or otherwise, but it's a rule only enforced when the opposing team complains. Just like umpires don't measure every bat for too much pine tar before each at bat. We as umpires don't go looking for rules to enforce, they'll find us one way or another. Given my knowledge of the pro game, I am 99% certain these two instances only occurred because the opposing team complained. So hopefully that clears up any apparent lapse of consistency in rule enforcement.

MiAngelo Moore said...

I think the whole bracelet removal thing goes against the spirit and intent of the rule.

I'd imagine that back when the rule was initially written, there were probably only white and black wristbands, which could be used to hide things to cheat with (like a nail file, Vaseline, pine tar, etc.)

Like Anonymous said - this is probably a case of douche-baggery gamesmanship by the opposing manager to try and get the pitchers off of their A-game on the bump.

In my humble opinion - to wear a little charmbracelet on a glove hand should be OK, as long as it's determined that it does not distract the hitter. I think it's safe to say that today's arm tattoos and necklaces (see A.J. Burnett, et. al) are probably WAY more distracting than any little bracelets worn on a glove hand ever could be.

Double Down for Donuts said...

"Like Anonymous said - this is probably a case of douche-baggery gamesmanship by the opposing manager to try and get the pitchers off of their A-game on the bump."

If so, then there needs to either be a more clear rule written, enforced, etc.

As I said, I like how soccer does it.

Don't need it for medical reasons? Take it off. Cuts through the bullshitzen.

Anonymous said...

Let's go yankees!!! Let's also get a third and final ejection for this series. common bob davidson

Anonymous said...

Actually, in the case of the Dickey situation, it came during a game in Cinncinati and Dusty Baker denied saying anything about it.
Also, if I recall correctly, Jim Joyce was asked about it and he said it came from the league directive. If Joyce didn't say that to a pool reporter, then that's the way it was reported by Collins and Dickey afterward.
Either way, the complaint wasn't from Dusty Baker.
The fact that this happened in another game to another pitcher by the same crew is a pretty strong indicator that they were the ones making the call, and not the opposing team.

Double Down for Donuts said...

"The fact that this happened in another game to another pitcher by the same crew is a pretty strong indicator that they were the ones making the call, and not the opposing team. "

Excellent sleuthing!

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