Nationals GM Calls Joe Girardi 'Con Artist' for Max Scherzer Substance Checks

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Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo called out Joe Girardi for having the umpires check Washington pitcher Max Scherzer for foreign substances multiple times on Tuesday night, going as far as to call the Phillies manager a "con artist."

When Rizzo was asked whether he felt Girardi was exhibiting "gamesmanship" instead of genuine concern, the general manager responded, "of course he was."

"What are we idiots? Of course he was," Rizzo said Wednesday during an interview with The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan. "It's embarrassing for Girardi. It's embarrassing for the Phillies. It's embarrassing for baseball. Yes, he was playing games. Hey, that's his right. Gamesmanship. It had nothing to do with substances.

"He had no probable cause to ask for it. The umps shouldn't have allowed it. But it happened and you've got to deal with it. This is what we're gonna have to deal with."

The Nationals were leading 3–1 with one out in the bottom of the fourth on Tuesday when Girardi told the umpires to spot check Scherzer for sticky stuff—again. He had previously been checked during the first and third innings, and each time, the pitcher was clean. 

Scherzer grew visibly frustrated, spiking his hat and gloves before starting to undo his belt. 

Baccellieri: Scherzer-Girardi Fiasco Reveals Worst (and Funniest) of MLB's Sticky Stuff Crackdown

"You think you're gonna intimidate a Max Scherzer? It's just not gonna happen," Rizzo said Wednesday. "You're just gonna piss him off and make him concentrate that much harder. This is about breaking Max's rhythm and frustrating him and that type of thing, and it didn't work."

Scherzer and Girardi later ended up in a hot exchange in the fifth inning with the Phillies manager coming out of the dugout to challenge him while Scherzer only stared Girardi down. The Phillies manager was then ejected, and the pitcher only lifted his gloves and hat in response. 

The Nationals ended up winning 3–2. 

"I've seen Max a long time, since 2010—obviously, he's going to be a Hall of Famer—but I've never seen him wipe his head like he was doing tonight. Ever," Girardi told reporters after the game. "It was suspicious for me. He did it about four or five times. It was suspicious. I didn't mean to offend anyone. I just got to do what’s right for our club." 

During postgame interviews, Scherzer said he was touching his hair during the game because he was perspiring. He added later that he was using a mix of rosin and his own perspiration during the game against the Phillies, but said what the league is doing now is "not the answer."

MLB is cracking down on the use of foreign substances and announced the new guidelines that a pitcher who "possesses or applies foreign substances" will face a 10-day suspension. The sudden change comes after news broke in recent weeks surrounding pitchers, like Tyler Glasnow, openly admitting they've used foreign substances to have a better grip on the ball.

"These are [Rob] Manfred rules," Scherzer said Tuesday night. "Go ask him what he wants to do with this. I've said enough. Go ask Alec Bohm how he feels about 95 (mph) at his face."

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