The New York Yankees topped the Cleveland Guardians in Game 1 of the 2022 ALDS on Tuesday night, but were stymied late in the game by a familiar foe: reliever James Karinchak.
You might remember Karinchak from getting rocked by a Gio Urshela grand slam in the 2020 postseason, as well as wearing No. 99 and being the literal opposite person as Aaron Judge. Wild Thing has had his ups and downs in recent years, dominating as a rookie before struggling mightily in 2021, posting a 4.07 ERA and getting demoted to Triple-A Columbus during a turbulent season where sticky stuff was banned unilaterally.
Things are looking up for Karinchak now, though, after a 2.08 ERA, 2.29 FIP and 62 strikeouts in 39 innings this season. Wow! What a rebound. And he did it all clean, after the elimination of — oh. Oh, I see. Well, then.
It didn’t take much imagination to spot Karinchak rubbing his long hair over and over and over again on Tuesday, making no secret of the way he’s taken advantage of MLB as their mid-game security checks get ever more lax (a quick look at the wrists, and … goodbye!).
Just look at this helpful TikTok beyond this hyperlink: Karinchak’s obviously spackled-up neck was spotted by an eagle-eyed viewer, which is lucky for us, but an eagle’s eyes weren’t even required for this one. A corrective lens-wearer with an outdated prescription probably could’ve spotted Cleveland’s notorious offender rubbing his hair like he was massaging in Keeps, then conveniently finding a brown splotch below his flow.
Cleveland’s James Karinchak using wild amounts of sticky stuff vs Yankees in Game 1
Karinchak’s scoreless eighth zipped on by faster than a greased-up finger rolling across a hair follicle. Wild Thing, you make my neck sting!
Is this the right-hander’s first offense? You’re going to be shocked by this assertion, but it is not!
Look at short-haired Karinchak from 2021, unable to hide anything on his neck and trying the lip of his glove instead.
Karinchak is not the only MLB pitcher still bucking the rules, but he might be the most blatant.
Objectively, there’s nothing funnier than a pitcher with short hair and a deep, abiding love for goop spending a full year growing his hair out just so he can hide more goop under there.
Karinchak probably won’t be tossed from a future game in this series, and an Aaron Boone call-out might end up just as embarrassing as the Joe Musgrove ear saga. But if MLB really cares about Spider Tack and wasn’t just going through the motions when they made pitchers change everything mid-stream in 2021, then they’ll crack down more meaningfully this offseason.
Probably not, though.