MLB to institute 8-10 random checks/game for foreign substances

DJnVa

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I like how they talk about the "gentlemen's agreement" but part of the plan comes from players giving MLB info.
 

DJnVa

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I believe the intent is to end the gentleman's agreement.
Yes. But what I'm trying to say (badly) is:

1--they say there is a gentlemen's agreement
2--players narc'ed and MLB has info based on things send info send in by players

So, not everyone was approving.

"MLB has essentially built specific foreign-substance scouting reports on pitchers throughout the sport, using video -- some sent in by opposing players. "
 

Ford Frick's Asterisk

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I wonder how many of the "scouting reports" were provided by Trevor Bauer... studying film and playing the villain are his two favorite things.
 
I'm sure this will be an unpopular take but I don't really like this being implemented mid-season. I'm all for the foreign substance rule being enforced, but the fact is that it really hasn't been enforced for ages and pitchers have adapted to that reality. Putting pitchers on notice and giving them an offseason to work things out would be fine, but doing so suddenly in the middle of a season is just asking for chaos.

I know people are bored by strikeouts, but if abuse of foreign substance non-enforcement is as rampant as is alleged to be then do we really most pitchers to have to figure out how to pitch without the grip that they are accustomed to in live games? Maybe things will be fine, but I'm concerned about the ramifications of a league wide decrease in pitch control and overall effectiveness. More walks and hits means longer games and more pitches thrown in a season where injury risks are already elevated due to last year's mess.

K after K may get old, but nothing is worse than watching a pitcher who can't find the zone.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Eno Sarris in the Athletic told everyone that most pitchers were cheating back in November.
Edit:
https://theathletic.com/2183861/2020/11/09/pitchers-pine-tar-grip-mlb-time-to-legalize/?source=user_shared_article

Here's some discussion of this on this thread:
https://sonsofsamhorn.net/index.php?threads/how-many-mlb-pitchers-are-cheating-lots-of-them.31965/

It's good that now MLB is apparently going to do something about this. Hopefully they won't fuck it up, but, Manfred.
MLB should be working on perfecting the baseball as much as possible. It's the single most important part of the game, and everything that happens is based on the ball itself. Find a baseball that pitchers can grip and throw confidently without substances that can also be hit hard without turning the game into home run derby. Everything would get better from there.
 
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Red Right Ankle

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I wonder how many of the "scouting reports" were provided by Trevor Bauer... studying film and playing the villain are his two favorite things.
The SI article on this strongly implied that he had probably started using the sticky stuff, too. So, probably none unless they were allowing anonymous submissions.
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

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Eno Sarris in the Athletic told everyone that most pitchers were cheating back in November.
https://theathletic.com/news/emi-buendia-transfer-aston-villa-norwich/oLtwMxqx8LAV

It's good that now MLB is apparently going to do something about this. Hopefully they won't fuck it up, but, Manfred.
MLB should be working on perfecting the baseball as much as possible. It's the single most important part of the game, and everything that happens is based on the ball itself. Find a baseball that pitchers can grip and throw confidently without substances that can also be hit hard without turning the game into home run derby. Everything would get better from there.
The link you provided is to a soccer article.

EDIT: Here’s the proper link:


‘Almost everyone is using something’: Getting a grip on how MLB pitchers are cheating
https://theathletic.com/2183861/2020/11/09/pitchers-pine-tar-grip-mlb-time-to-legalize/?source=user_shared_article
 

YTF

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Yeah, good luck with this. MLB (as with other dirty, little, not so secret secrets) has know about this for a long time, has turned a blind eye to it for a long time and one could argue has facilitated it for a long time. There was a wink and a nod "don't be too obvious about it" agreement/attitude about this. Players even advocated for it up until recently. Now they're going to place the onus of policing this on the umps? Don't get me wrong this sort of thing should be policed by the umps, but you're going to drop it in their laps now with what sort of guidelines? What level of tolerance? What penalties will be incurred? At what point will players claim it's gone too far?
 

Heating up in the bullpen

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Yeah, good luck with this. MLB (as with other dirty, little, not so secret secrets) has know about this for a long time, has turned a blind eye to it for a long time and one could argue has facilitated it for a long time. There was a wink and a nod "don't be too obvious about it" agreement/attitude about this. Players even advocated for it up until recently. Now they're going to place the onus of policing this on the umps? Don't get me wrong this sort of thing should be policed by the umps, but you're going to drop it in their laps now with what sort of guidelines? What level of tolerance? What penalties will be incurred? At what point will players claim it's gone too far?
Most umps can't even get the strike zone right, and they've been doing that for years. I'm not optimistic one out of ten of them can walk and chew gum at the same time.
 

OCD SS

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I believe the intent is to end the gentleman's agreement.
Gentleman’s agreements are pretty much bullshit, and just the other side of the “unwritten rules of the game” coin.
I'm sure this will be an unpopular take but I don't really like this being implemented mid-season. I'm all for the foreign substance rule being enforced, but the fact is that it really hasn't been enforced for ages and pitchers have adapted to that reality. Putting pitchers on notice and giving them an offseason to work things out would be fine, but doing so suddenly in the middle of a season is just asking for chaos
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember MLB saying during the off-season or at the beginning of ST that they would be policing things much more stringently this season.It sounds like what MLB has done is warn everyone, then stringently collect data for the first half, and now it’s moving forward with enforcement backed up by actual data. I’ll grant you that there have been some stumbling first steps to the enforcement (Bauer Balls, Hat-gate and coming down on some A-ball pitchers first), but I don’t think it’s necessary for MLB to study the issue for a full season before they enforce rules already on the books.
 

Comfortably Lomb

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No objection to enforcing the rule, especially since spin rates are in part responsible for the ridiculous number of strikeouts. I like that they seem to be giving advance notice too. It would be better if not mid-season, but whatever, I think this is the right decision.

I don't exactly love that so much of the discussion seems to focus on cheating rather than too many pitchers getting too much spin. I just suspect it encourages more endless whining about cheating.
 
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember MLB saying during the off-season or at the beginning of ST that they would be policing things much more stringently this season.It sounds like what MLB has done is warn everyone, then stringently collect data for the first half, and now it’s moving forward with enforcement backed up by actual data. I’ll grant you that there have been some stumbling first steps to the enforcement (Bauer Balls, Hat-gate and coming down on some A-ball pitchers first), but I don’t think it’s necessary for MLB to study the issue for a full season before they enforce rules already on the books.
You are correct, there was a memo circulated to the owners that was initially reported on in late March: (article). It looks like the memo suggested that MLB would be increasing monitoring and gathering data. While it's better than nothing, a memo promulgated in March that isn't at all specific about enforcement or penalties isn't enough I think, although I agree it's far better than a new policy mid-season with no warning at all.

I completely agree that it's not necessary for the MLB to study the issue for a complete season before enforcing the rules. Personally, I don't think they needed to "study" the issue at all. If they had announced in November that the rule would be strictly enforced in 2021 starting on opening day with significant penalties for violators (with or without details of the mechanics of enforcement, or even leaving the possibility open for changing the mechanics of enforcement or the penalties mid-season) I'd have been largely supportive. I still might question whether the potential added injury risk is worth it in this particular season, but I think a full offseason is plenty of time for pitchers to adjust their mechanics and get used to how their pitchers perform without the use of foreign substances.

As it is, things might be fine. But we also might be in for an extended period of really awkward pitching. Or if pitchers decide to risk continuing to violate the rule the season might be dramatically impacted by uneven enforcement.
 

z-factor

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The Olney tweets above suggest these checks will occur at the end of inning or as a pitcher leaves the game (so it won't affect the pace of play). So if the umps find a pitcher using a foreign substance, what will they do? What's the punishment since the damage/cheating had already been done?
 

The Gray Eagle

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The link you provided is to a soccer article.

EDIT: Here’s the proper link:


‘Almost everyone is using something’: Getting a grip on how MLB pitchers are cheating
https://theathletic.com/2183861/2020/11/09/pitchers-pine-tar-grip-mlb-time-to-legalize/?source=user_shared_article
You are right, thanks.
There was a little discussion of this here in this thread, which was the link I thought I was posting:
https://sonsofsamhorn.net/index.php?threads/how-many-mlb-pitchers-are-cheating-lots-of-them.31965/
 

cornwalls@6

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No objection to enforcing the rule, especially since spin rates are in part responsible for the ridiculous number of strikeouts. I like that they seem to be giving advance notice too. It would be better if not mid-season, but whatever, I think this is the right decision.

I don't exactly love that so much of the discussion seems to focus on cheating rather than too many pitchers getting too much spin. I just suspect it encourages more endless whining about cheating.
Agree with this. The intent should be be cutting down on strikeouts, getting more balls in play, more base runners, more action. That’s the reason to do it. Not kicking off yet another orgy of what about the children, grandstanding/moralizing. I fear that’s what we’re going to get though.
 

singaporesoxfan

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What's changed, if Olney's reporting and his podcast are any guide to player sentiment, seems to be that the hitters are seeing spin rates that are beyond stuff seen in the past, so in effect likely some hitters perceived that the pitchers broke the gentleman's agreement.
 

The Gray Eagle

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That’s the reason to do it. Not kicking off yet another orgy of what about the children, grandstanding/moralizing. I fear that’s what we’re going to get though.
Don't worry, that would require consistency from the people who raged so virulently about steroid cheating and sign-stealing cheating. From the Hall of Fame, Gaylord Perry says there's not much chance of that!
 

absintheofmalaise

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SI had a good article on this too. Long gone are the days of Buchholz slathering his left arm with sunscreen and mixing it with rosin.

There's good information about Bauer's spin rate increase in there too.

One ball made its way into an NL dugout last week, where players took turns touching a palm to the sticky material coating it and lifting the baseball, adhered to their hand, into the air. Another one, corralled in a different NL dugout, had clear-enough fingerprints indented in the goo that opponents could mimic the pitcher’s grip. A third one, also in the NL, was so sticky that when an opponent tried to pull the glue off, three inches of seams came off with it.
More recently, pitchers have begun experimenting with drumstick resin and surfboard wax. They use Tyrus Sticky Grip, Firm Grip spray, Pelican Grip Dip stick and Spider Tack, a glue intended for use in World’s Strongest Man competitions and whose advertisements show someone using it to lift a cinder block with his palm. Some combine several of those to create their own, more sophisticated substances. They use Edgertronic high-speed cameras and TrackMan and Rapsodo pitch-tracking devices to see which one works best. Many of them spent their pandemic lockdown time perfecting their gunk.
Los Angeles this year is Spin City, according to the SI analysis. In March, the league sent a memo to teams to warn them that it would begin studying the problem, collecting those baseballs for analysis and using spin rate data to identify potential users of foreign substances. Officials have focused on four-seam spin rate, because breaking pitches can sometimes be enhanced naturally. But four-seamers are thrown with the hand and wrist behind the ball and with true north-south backspin, so there are fewer variables.
MLB Leaders in Increase in Four-Seam Fastball Spin Rate From 2020 to 2021
Data via Statcast
41738


SI found that through June 2, the Dodgers had the highest increase in year-to-year four-seam spin rate, at 7.01%. The next highest was 4.21%, by the White Sox. That increase and that gap are enormous. The Red Sox came in third, at 4.01%; the Nationals fourth, at 3.07%; and the Yankees fifth, at 2.94%. The league-average increase has been 0.52% this year. (All clubs declined or did not respond to requests for comment.)
edit: Added Bauer info.
 

Gash Prex

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I don't find the collective team information all that helpful given that it does not account for new pitchers in or out.

Some of this surely relates to personnel. L.A., for instance, traded away Dylan Floro and Adam Kolarek and did not re-sign Pedro Baéz, all low-spin pitchers. They signed Bauer and Jimmy Nelson and traded for Garrett Cleavinger and Alex Vesia, who all spin the ball. Still, every active Dodger pitcher except one has a higher spin rate than he did last year.
 

BaseballJones

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https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/mlb-foreign-substance-crack-down-trevor-bauer-gerrit-cole-show-reduced-spin-ex-mvp-calls-out-coincidence/

""I don't make much of it," Boone told reporters, including NJ.com's Brendan Kuty, prior to Sunday's game. "Gerrit as well of our staff members, I believe, are mostly above board and they'll be able to handle the situation in the right kind of way and it's not going to affect the kind of pitchers they are.""

Heh. "Mostly" above board. I mean, they cheat SOME, just not as much as people might think.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/mlb-foreign-substance-crack-down-trevor-bauer-gerrit-cole-show-reduced-spin-ex-mvp-calls-out-coincidence/

""I don't make much of it," Boone told reporters, including NJ.com's Brendan Kuty, prior to Sunday's game. "Gerrit as well of our staff members, I believe, are mostly above board and they'll be able to handle the situation in the right kind of way and it's not going to affect the kind of pitchers they are.""

Heh. "Mostly" above board. I mean, they cheat SOME, just not as much as people might think.
Yeah, "mostly" above board meaning they're bending the rules a bit but in line with their "gentlemen's agreement" with the hitters.
 

geoduck no quahog

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Will reduced grip/spin rate inevitably lead to more walks? I'm not certain what the relationship between spin and control is...there's obviously a relationship between grip and control.

Also - what about the issue of some teams playing in climate-controlled environments? There must be some advantage during extreme weather months for pitchers who don't need to deal with the elements. On the other hand, I guess it's the same for every visiting pitcher that day. I guess it's the same for football, too - so probably a stupid question.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Will reduced grip/spin rate inevitably lead to more walks? I'm not certain what the relationship between spin and control is...there's obviously a relationship between grip and control.

Also - what about the issue of some teams playing in climate-controlled environments? There must be some advantage during extreme weather months for pitchers who don't need to deal with the elements. On the other hand, I guess it's the same for every visiting pitcher that day. I guess it's the same for football, too - so probably a stupid question.
Walk-rates haven't gone down in the last few years as spin rate has become a thing, so I don't think the increased policing of these grip additives will change how frequently walks are issued.

BB/9 for the league as a whole over the last 10 years...
2021 3.4
2020 3.5
2019 3.3
2018 3.2
2017 3.3
2016 3.1
2015 2.9
2014 2.9
2013 3.0
2012 3.1

And just so it doesn't appear like the numbers are trending up to unseen heights, the previous decade saw the numbers mostly in the 3.3 to 3.5 range, which were down from the height of the steroid era (2000 = 3.8 BB/9 for the league, highest in nearly 50 years).
 

sean1562

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There was some talk in the SI article about how the increased grip is letting pitchers throw at 100% velocity more frequently as it is easier to control at higher velocities. Maybe we will see a tick down in velocity?
 
Walk-rates haven't gone down in the last few years as spin rate has become a thing, so I don't think the increased policing of these grip additives will change how frequently walks are issued.
Just to play devil's advocate, walks could increase not as a result of something to do with spin rates changing but rather simply due to the sudden change between pitching with sticky gunk and not. It's plausible that even professional pitchers might need a bit of time to adapt to the new grip characteristics and lose some control until that adaptation occurs. So even if things even out in the long run, in the short run there's a plausible reason why control might decrease.
 

nvalvo

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To be clear, I suspect that this is even more pervasive than steroids were, so I don't actually think it's terribly fair to single out Cole, but... yiiiiiiiiikes.
 

Comfortably Lomb

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If you've been using glue for grip the past few years maybe it would be wise to talk to some PR people and figure out some stupid canned response rather than babble incoherently in response to a question you know you're going to be asked right now.

Also, comparing foreign substances to steroids is annoying. With steroids the whole basis for eliminating them was that they basically forced players to decide to take potentially dangerous substances in order to compete with the bloated human freaks injecting rhinoceros growth hormone. Getting some stick-um on your fingers isn't a health risk.
 

jon abbey

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I would like to think that the posters here are smarter than to blame players in this situation, be they Yankees, Red Sox, Astros or whoever. MLB changes the ball year after year without telling anyone specifics, they pass rules they clearly don't enforce until they decide to enforce them, can you imagine trying to perform as a pitcher or hitter in this environment? If you want to blame someone, MLB is to blame, but I don't really get that impulse anyway. They've now publicly decided to change the way they enforce this rule (midseason but still) so guys will adapt, yet again. If Cole isn't great anymore, then we'll know one big reason why he was.
 

JCizzle

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It would be a real shame if the Yankees are in year 2 of 9 of a $300+M contract they handed out to a guy who earned it by using a foreign substance he can’t rely on anymore. Real shame. I agree we should all lay off him.
 
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