New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole is an intense player who takes the game extremely seriously. That intensity is part of the reason Cole has become one of the best pitchers in baseball and is currently in the running for a Cy Young Award.
However, sometimes that serious approach can rub him the wrong way with some of his teammates, as it did with outfielder Brett Gardner after the MLB crackdown on spider tack.
NJ Advance Media’s Bob Klapisch stated that Gerrit Cole shot back at Brett Gardner after the veteran captain was joking around in the clubhouse:
Losing Spider Tack was obviously a setback to Cole and other pitchers who considered it indispensable. (Hint: that means most every hard thrower in the game). To soften the blow and lighten the moment, Gardner paraded around the clubhouse with pine tar on his hat. He was trying to get a laugh out of Cole. Apparently it had just the opposite effect.
Cole did not respond well to Gardner’s attempt at a playful joke, instead unleashing the best within the ace:
According to the source, Cole, in full view of his teammates, got in Gardner’s face and told him to knock it off. Mind you, Gardner was the Yankees’ senior-ranking member and the last remaining connection to the 2009 championship club. If anyone knows about winning – and the clubhouse chemistry that goes with it – it’s Gardner.
Cole finished the season with a 3.23 ERA, 12.06 strikeouts per nine, and 16 wins. Cole hadn’t finished a season with over a 3.00 ERA since 2017 when he featured with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Obviously, the loss of spider tack hurt his velocity and spin rate significantly, making him mortal once again. His team desperately needed him to perform against the Boston Red Sox in the Wild Card game, but he failed to get the job done and sent the team home packing early as they watched the postseason from their couches.
Hopefully, Cole can find a way to replicate the positive effects of spider tack without the usage of the material, but it is easier said than done. Cole wasn’t the only one to be affected on the team, as Aroldis Chapman saw major decreases in velocity, putting him through a tough streak immediately after the MLB banned the substance.
Gardner’s attempt to make light of the decision wasn’t intended to do any harm, but walking around with pine tar on his hat seems a bit insensitive.