A rosin bag exploded in the hands of pitcher A.J. Burnett in what looked to be a clubhouse prank played on Opening Day. But, if it was an April Fools’ Day joke, none of his Pittsburgh Pirates teammates are stepping forward to claim responsibility.
The rosin bag exploded during Monday’s Opening Day game against the Chicago Cubs. Burnett was circling the mound when he picked up the rosin bag and tried to tap it against his body. Instead, it exploded in a burst of white powder, surprising the pitcher.
After the game Burnett mentioned the incident to reporters.
“If so, it was a pretty good one,” Burnett said. “That’s my day: One (bad) pitch (for a two-run homer by Anthony Rizzo) and the rosin bag.”
Burnett actually had a stellar game, though the Pirates could not give him any run support. In the first Opening Day start of his career, he gave up three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings and struck out 10 batters, but took the loss as the Pirates fell 3-1.
If the rosin bag exploding was an April Fools’ Day prank, it could be retribution for the pitcher’s history of jokes on teammates. A notorious locker room jokester, Burnett has perfected the pie-in-the-face routine to embarrass teammates during postgame interviews.
Baseball and pranks do seem to go together, especially on April Fools’ Day. In the 1970s, Sports Illustrated famously ran a feature on a new pitcher the New York Mets found who could supposedly throw 150 mph. Readers who looked at the story carefully found out that pitching phenom Sidd Finch didn’t really exist and it was all an April Fools’ Day gag on baseball fans.
As the game’s announcers noted, it’s unlikely the rosin bag exploding was part of a prank. That sort of thing is mostly kept within the clubhouse or maybe in the preseason. This is the regular season now, and the stakes are high as Pirates try to reach the playoffs for the first time in more than 20 years.