Outspoken Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer, who blasted Commissioner Rob Manfred's playoff expansion proposal earlier this month, tells HBO's Real Sports Tuesday (10 p.m. HBO) that "probably like 70%" of all pitchers apply sticky pine tar to the ball.
"It affects every single pitch. And it's a bigger advantage than steroids ever were. If you know how to manipulate it, you can make the ball do drastically different things from pitch to pitch at the same velocity," Bauer tells reporter Bernard Goldberg.
In a story called "Revenge of the Nerd," Bauer "dishes on how radar technology and high-speed cameras – tools more often used by scientists – are helping his game, and ultimately revolutionizing the art of baseball," according to HBO Sports. Here's a two-minute preview:
The Real Sports release describes Bauer as "one of the most outspoken and unique athletes in sports… His unorthodox approach to pitching has labeled him an outcast of sorts, but the non-conformist is now considered one of the intellectual misfits who is at the forefront of changing the game."
In the full 15-minute segment, which I screened Monday, a running theme is Bauer being an outspoken loner. As Goldberg puts it: "Trevor Bauer says he's good at two things – throwing a baseball and (ticking) people off."
Or as Bauer explains: "I decided that as long as I can look in a mirror, and I like what I see looking back at me, as long as I can be proud of that, then I really don't care what other people think."
Goldberg interviewed Bauer at Driveline Baseball, the suburban Seattle data-driven baseball research center founded by Kyle Boddy, who was named the Reds' director of pitching initiatives/pitching coordinator in October. Real Sports gives viewers a great look inside Driveline, where more than a dozen high-tech cameras and sensors help analyze Bauer's pitching.
Bauer, who has been involved with Boddy since 2013, concedes that "baseball old-timers" don't think highly of this revolutionary new baseball research. This next quote will tick them off, too.
"I think it's pretty clear what the old timers think about this. Just listen to them in the broadcast booth all the time, and they just rip on it. If you put any of the old timers in today's game, they would not be big leaguers. So they can adapt or die," Bauer says.
Here's a partial transcript provided by HBO Sports:
GOLDBERG: "Bauer also toys with this stuff – pine tar – a highly sticky substance that’s been illegally used by pitchers throughout baseball history. What’s new is what Bauer and company are learning here at Driveline, that a little pine tar can go a long way … in making a baseball spin a lot faster … and become harder to hit.
"Do some pitchers use that sticky stuff?"
BAUER: "Yeah, probably, like, 70% of 'em."
GOLDBERG: "How do you get it onto the field?"
BAUER: "Pitchers put it on their glove or on their hat or inside their belt buckle or —"
GOLDBERG: "You're not supposed to be givin' up these secrets. I mean – your fellow baseball players aren't gonna be happy about this."
BAUER: "Yeah. Well, it needs to be talked about more because it affects every single pitch. And it's a bigger advantage than steroids ever were. If you know how to manipulate it, you can make the ball do drastically different things from pitch to pitch at the same velocity. And –"
GOLDBERG: "Why don't the managers yell at the other guy?"
TREVOR BAUER: " 'Cause all their guys are doing it, too." [Laughs]
GOLDBERG: "Bauer says he won’t use it in games ... because he has quote 'morals' ... but that its abuse is rampant in the sport – and in fact – two years before the Astros sign stealing scandal broke, he accused Astros pitchers of a cheating conspiracy of their own … using pine tar to perform better.
"How did that go over when you made that accusation?"
BAUER: "About as you'd expect, you know. Not well."
GOLDBERG: "You've said, 'They mocked me. They attacked my character. They demeaned me.' And you said: 'They're hypocrites.' "
BAUER: "Of all the ways you could have said, you know, handled this, like, you choose to just flat-out deny it and, like, call me whatever you're gonna call me, say that I don't know what I'm talking about, when you know damn well that it's going on. That's pretty much the definition of hypocrisy, right?"
GOLDBERG: "Trevor Bauer won’t be apologizing for saying what he thinks any time soon ... he’s also not going to apologize for who he has always been."
As Bauer puts it: "I'm a nerd."