Video killed the radio star, the song goes ... and it may wind up curbing cheating, too. Or, even thinking of it.
Not that San Diego Cy Young winner Jake Peavy was doing anything of the sort in his brillitant, complete-game win over Los Angeles on Saturday, but somebody saw some brown stuff on his right thumb, index and middle fingers on the postgame Fox television broadcast while Peavy was shaking hands with his teammates, posted the zoomed-in photos on the Internet and, voila. Dirt smeared with resin and sweat? Pine tar? Maple syrup left over from breakfast?
The unanimous Cy Young winner found himself answering questions Sunday that probably won't disppear until after his next start.
Which, as fate would have it, is Friday in Dodger Stadium in a rematch against Brad Penny.
Peavy, manager Bud Black and the Padres say the brown stuff on Peavy's hand Saturday was dirt, plain and simple.
"I laugh, to be honest with you," Peavy said. "Anybody that wants to check me, feel free. There's nothing on my hand that's not supposed to be. I laughed. I thought it was funny."
"You play baseball, your hands get dirty," Padres manager Bud Black said, noting that Peavy often reaches for the resin bag and that the powdery substance is designed to make the hand a bit sticky (to grip the ball better) and, when mixed with sweat, said that dirt can adhere to it.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre acknowledged the possibility that it could be pine tar during his pre-game meeting with reporters Sunday but mostly downplayed the situation. Torre said that if somebody appears to be doing something illegal in a game it should be checked but said that he does not favor "undressing" an opposing pitcher -- that is, asking the umpire to go out and search the pitcher on the mound.
"They're more than welcome to," Peavy said of the prospect of the Dodgers asking the umpires to check him Friday night. "I hope they're worried about my hand. Anytime Joe wants to check me, he can."
The Peavy situation is similar to one involving Detroit's Kenny Rogers during the 2006 WOrld Series. Then, however, television cameras picked up on Rogers' dirty hand during the game and broadcasters were openly talking about it as play continued.
Peavy's dirty hand wasn't noticed until after the broadcast, by someone who apparently saw it on digital video, photographed his television and then sent the photos to a Web site.
And the photo came after the game. If Peavy's hand was dirty during the game, there's apparently no evidence.
Peavy saw the photo when someone showed it to him before the game and, during a conversation after San Diego's 3-2 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday, expressed surprise -- and skepticism where the photo was concerned -- that his hand was that stained.
"I can't imagine my hands would be that dirty," Peavy said. "But my hands aren't that clean (during a game). I pick up the resin bag, I hit. ..."