They’ve warned teams that doctored balls will result in 10 game bans……beginning June 21st.
They’ve known it’s been happening and have done nothing.
Now they’re going to fer “serious.”
That’s like cops telling criminals, “hey, until June 21st you can rob, steal, murder and rape and we’ll look the other way. After that we’ll whack your pee-pee.”
The commissioner’s office previously announced that pitchers are to be checked for foreign substances by umpires, who can conduct 10 random inspections per game.
‘After an extensive process of repeated warnings without effect, gathering information from current and former players and others across the sport, two months of comprehensive data collection, listening to our fans and thoughtful deliberation, I have determined that new enforcement of foreign substances is needed to level the playing field,’ baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
‘I understand there’s a history of foreign substances being used on the ball, but what we are seeing today is objectively far different, with much tackier substances being used more frequently than ever before. It has become clear that the use of foreign substance has generally morphed from trying to get a better grip on the ball into something else — an unfair competitive advantage that is creating a lack of action and an uneven playing field.’
The last pitchers suspended for using foreign substances were Baltimore’s Brian Matusz and Milwaukee’s Will Smith for eight games each in May 2015. Both appealed, and Smith’s penalty was cut to six games while Matusz’s ban was upheld.
MLB’s policy changes will effectively begin June 21.
Teams have already received league reports naming pitchers who have been caught using foreign substances, two unidentified general managers told ESPN.
In anticipation of the crackdown, some teams have asked pitchers to work on throwing in the bullpen without the use of foreign substances, two players and an official told ESPN.
Rules 3.01 and 6.02(c) of the Major League rulebook have long prohibited the use of foreign substances by pitchers, although the the practice of doctoring balls to improve grip, spin, and control is nothing new.
But after promising to crack down on foreign substances in recent years, MLB is taking action this season as pitchers are enjoying historic success: Six no-hitters have already been thrown this season — one off the league record — and through May 31, hitters were batting just .236, the lowest mark since 1968.
MLB’s rulebook makes no distinction between the kinds of substances that will be prohibited, which ESPN reports could cause some consternation among pitchers.
For years, pitchers have improved their grip by inconspicuously mixing rosin and sunscreen lotion, but more recently, they’ve allegedly gained an advantage with the use of Spider Tack, a sticky concoction favored by weightlifters. (Pitchers are permitted to use a bag of dried rosin on the mound to help keep their hands dry)
MAJOR LEAGUE RULES
RULE 3.01: No player shall intentionally discolor or damage the ball by rubbing it with soil, rosin, paraffin, licorice, sand-paper, emery-paper or other foreign substance.
RULE 6.02: The pitcher shall not… apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball.
A source described as a ‘high-ranking person on the players’ side’ told ESPN that there is a ‘broad consensus among players that Spider Tack is over the line,’ but other foreign substances are seen differently.
Recently New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso told reporter he doesn’t care if pitchers use foreign substances: ‘I would rather them have control.’
In a statement, the players’ union responded to ESPN’s report about the impending 10-game suspensions for violators.
‘The Players Association is aware that Major League Baseball plans to issue guidance shortly regarding the enforcement of existing rules governing foreign substances,’ read the statement. ‘We will communicate with Players accordingly once that guidance has been issued. We anticipate future discussions with the League regarding on-field issues, including the foreign substance rules and the baseballs themselves, as part of ongoing collective bargaining. Our continued focus will remain on fundamental fairness and player health and safety.’
ESPN is also reporting that several unidentified pitchers have said they will stop using Spider Tack and switch to pine tar, which hitters use to improve their grip on the handle of the bat.
MLB umpires have been increasingly vigilant in recent weeks. On May 26, veteran umpire Joe West forced St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos to change hats.