Clayton Kershaw has suggestion in response to Girardi-Scherzer situation
The feud between Joe Girardi and Max Scherzer has elicited a lot of opinions from around Major League Baseball, but Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw may have had the most interesting thought about the whole thing.
Girardi had Scherzer checked for foreign substances during the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game between the Phillies and Nationals. It was the third time in four innings Scherzer had been checked, which led some to believe that it wasn’t based on any real suspicion but instead was an attempt to throw Scherzer off his game and take him out of his rhythm. It didn’t work, but it definitely made Scherzer mad, starting a process that led to Girardi’s ejection.
The episode raised a question over whether it’s fair to allow managers to use these checks as a tactic to try to throw pitchers off. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw was one of those who had concerns about this, and had an interesting suggestion to ensure that it doesn’t happen.
Clayton Kershaw on umpire checks and Joe Girardi/Max Scherzer: "I will say this, you know how Girardi checked Scherzer or called him out? I think there should be a punishment if they don't find anything. … You better find something if you're going to call him out like that."
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) June 23, 2021
MLB does have a mechanism in place to punish managers who ask for checks in bad faith. Managers know that, though, and Girardi came prepared with an excuse after the game. Even if you don’t believe Girardi’s reasoning, it’s the sort of thing that shows why demonstrating bad faith on the part of a manager would be very difficult.
Other leagues have instituted consequences to prevent similar rules from being abused. For instance, the NHL formerly allowed teams to challenge the legality of a goaltender’s stick. If a challenged stick was found to be legal, the challenging team was assessed a two-minute penalty. Similarly, NBA and NFL teams lose timeouts if they unsuccessfully challenge plays in addition to there being a limited number of challenges available. It’s more difficult in baseball to come up with a suitable punishment, but there’s definitely a danger that the rules may be abused if there’s no consequence for repeated requests to check a pitcher.