On Tuesday night, Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi drew the ire of Washington Nationals starter Max Scherzer after asking the umpires to check the veteran ace for foreign substances midway through the fourth inning.
During the inspection, Scherzer threw his hat and glove to the ground, and stared down Girardi and the Phillies' dugout. The drama intensified when Scherzer completed his fifth and final inning of work, as another staredown prompted Girardi to leave the dugout, run onto the field, and challenge Scherzer to a fight. Girardi was quickly ejected.
"I know Joe really well and I have a lot of respect for him -- he was my teammate. I think he's an outstanding manager, an outstanding leader. But I thought it was kind of bush league," former major league reliever Jeff Nelson told The Zach Gelb Show on Thursday. "Scherzer's out there battling, they check him. I think there's no way that he's ever using anything. He's just one of the best pitchers in the game, and he deserves to have that kind of reaction. And I would too.
"If I'm out there dealing and going through your lineup, and all of the sudden you're going to check me because of it? How about the talent level, how about the skill level that Scherzer has? I don't think it has anything to do with him using any kind of substance. So, he has every right to be upset."
Under MLB's new guidelines, any player caught in possession of a foreign substance will be automatically ejected and suspended 10 games, with pay. Starting pitchers will undergo at least one mandatory check per game, and relievers must be checked either at the end of the inning when entering the game or when they are taken out of the game.
In a recent interview with The Athletic, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred expressed overall satisfaction with the crackdown, arguing that the data "suggests we are making progress with respect to the issues."
The entire MLB conversation between Nelson and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.