On Wednesday, Leo Mazzone seemed to accuse John Smoltz of cheating by rubbing pine tar on baseballs. The comments were unsolicited and came during a radio interview. Now it seems that Mazzone is walking those comments back:
"We were trying to have some fun on the air and in trying to have some fun somebody took a story and ran with it and said that I said that Smoltzy cheated in the game," Mazzone told WNNX-FM in Atlanta on Thursday morning.
Asked point blank whether Smoltz cheated during his pitching career, Mazzone told WNNX, "No, absolutely not."
Mazzone also expressed disappointment that his comments, which he claims were taken out of context, have created such a stir.
"I am so angry about it because somebody took it and ran with it and said 'the Braves pitchers were cheating,' " Mazzone told WNNX. "That's a bunch of bologna."
What is a bunch of bologna is even bringing it up in the first place! And if you do accidentally bring it up, follow it up immediately with an "I'm kidding, I'm kidding." And then Mazzone went right back to his original statement and once again implied that Smoltz used pine tar, but this time he didn't call it cheating:
"With something like pine tar, that's not doctoring a baseball," Mazzone told WNNX. "That's trying to get a grip when it's cold. What's wrong with that?"
So adding something other than rosin to a baseball is NOT doctoring a baseball? No, Leo, that's the definition of doctoring a baseball ... which is cheating ... and it's wrong. Just like spit on a baseball is doctoring a baseball. Just like raising the seams is doctoring a baseball. Leo's apology is worse than his original insult, as it reaffirms his original statement.
Anytime an allegation like cheating is brought up, even if the person bringing it up doesn't think it's cheating (though it clearly is), it's going to get a lot of attention. This type of story won't go away, and folks are going to keep asking Smoltz and the other Braves pitchers from the 90's about it. (I've already asked Smoltz about it, so we'll see where that goes...)