This was more than a week ago, watching a Twins game on television, when Josh Donaldson unleashed what appeared to be a potent, on-time swing and the result was a pop-up just past the infield in left.
The thought was at that moment: "He has a lot of swings that look solid and wind up 125 feet from home plate."
This was before Wednesday's dust-up started with umpire Joe West ordering St. Louis pitcher Giovanny Gallegos to change his cap because of a smudge on the bill.
Cowboy Joe loves attention and this past week was Nirvana: Breaking the record for MLB games umpired on Tuesday, followed the next day by igniting another round of controversy over what past generations called "doctored" baseballs.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt went after West and was quickly ejected, then spent 12 minutes after the game discussing additives on baseballs as MLB's "dirty little secret."
Donaldson dived into this in a Twitter exchange with former pitcher Dallas Braden. The Twins third baseman claimed to have a catalog of video showing cheating pitchers and it would be "coming out."
Last September, Donaldson made a fool of himself in order to be ejected by plate umpire Dan Bellino: Josh hit a home run, then dragged dirt across the plate as he reached home, in an ongoing protest over a 2-0 pitch called a strike.
Two days later, Donaldson vowed to reveal further evidence of Bellino's flaws as an umpire. We're still waiting.
Donaldson received the most unlikely contract in Twins history before last season: four years, $92 million for a 34-year-old. He then missed most of the 2020 mini-season because of a calf injury.
On April 1 in Milwaukee, the Twins opener, he smacked a double in the top of the first, pulled up hobbling, and had to leave the game. Immediately, media and public cynics bellowed he would be out for weeks, as another oft-hurt Twin.
He returned April 14 and has been a staple in the lineup since April 20. What happened in mid-May was that he stopped hitting. His average for the past 16 games is .127.
The Zoom era has limited exposure to Donaldson, but he's an obvious powder keg. And even what figures to be another idle threat — to expose cheating pitchers with his catalog of videos — will not play well with half of his clubhouse.
You're teammates first, then pitchers or hitters. That would be the cliché, right?
Actually, what comes first for all parties is a career. As a group, pitchers in any clubhouse aren't going to be in favor of the Commissioner's Office actually following through on its preseason threat to crack down on suspicious increases in spin rates.
This isn't completely new. There are just more "secret sauces" to increase movement. Some use the record pace for hit-by-pitches as evidence of hitters encountering more unexpected darts and dives.
Analysis also shows much-increased spin rates for Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander when they were united with the Houston Astros.
And we know Bubba Harkins, in attempting to file suit over his dismissal as the Angels' visiting clubhouse manager, included a text from Cole in coded language asking for some of Bubba's special concoction that put more life in all pitches, including fastballs.
The lawsuit was kicked out of court and Cole now spins for the Yankees.
Trevor Bauer estimated after the 2019 season that 70% of pitchers were using a "foreign substance." Then, during the 2020 mini-season, Bauer's spin rates increased substantially and he's now pitching on a three-year, $102 million free-agent contract with the Dodgers.
This isn't all new. For instance: The rumor among players was Greg Maddux put Carmex on his teeth. Whisk a finger past his mouth, get an extra few centimeters on that great movement when really needed … you go, Greg.
What is new is the technology that shows the ultra-importance of spin, meaning more pitchers are trying to get there, which could be what turns more swings that look centered into pop-ups.
Write to Patrick Reusse by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and including his name in the subject line.