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

sodenj5

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Not sure I see a clear path out of this for baseball other than creating an approved grip substance that is regulated and supplied to all teams.

Most batters are fine with pine tar being used because they would prefer a pitcher having increased command versus getting plunked because they can’t grip the ball.

Spider Tack is purely to gain rpms and give the pitcher the upper hand, increasing velocity and break.

MLB is going to need to come up with a happy medium where pitchers aren’t gaining a massive boost in rpms, but can gain an acceptable amount of grip.
 
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BornToRun

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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.
I don’t care how unfair it is to put this on Cole, I’m doing it anyway because he plays for the Yankees and seems like kind of a dick. Only justification I need. Hopefully he goes back to being the 3.5~ guy he was in Pittsburgh and that contract looks a lot worse.
 

jon abbey

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Not sure I see a clear path out of this for baseball other than creating an approved grip substance that is regulated and supplied to all teams.

Most batters are fine with pine tar being used because they would prefer a pitcher having increased command versus getting plunked because they can’t grip the ball.

Spider Tack is purely to gain rpms and give the pitcher the upper hand, increasing velocity and break.

MLB is going to need to come up with a happy medium where pitchers are gaining a massive boost in rpms, but can gain an acceptable amount of grip.
You mean pitchers AREN'T in that last sentence.
 

mauf

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On Sunday night, I watched a 10-inning Red Sox-Yankees game in its entirety and wasn’t exhausted the next day. What’s the problem?

I mean, sure, I’d like to see more balls in play, but short of changing ballpark dimensions, anything MLB does in that regard is going to be exchanging one problem for another.
 

YTF

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Back in '13 or '14 when Pineda got tossed against the Sox and subsequently suspended, John Farrell said something to the effect that Pineda made no effort to hide it and it was so obvious that he had to go to the umps about it. The tone was almost apologetic as he felt compelled to "justify" it in that way.

41772
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

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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.
I mean, banging on trash cans isn't a health risk unless you're Oscar the Grouch.
 

Average Reds

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Lol. Knew that was coming.
The thing is, rosin works perfectly well for the purpose you articulated.

The problem is that it doesn't provide the competitive edge that allows good pitchers to perform at elite levels. Which is why pitchers look for something that works better. And once pitchers see an above-average young pitcher turn into Gerrit Cole* and be rewarded with a $324 million dollar contract, they are chumps if they don't join the (literal) arms race themselves. In that sense the situation with Spider Tack (and all the other things they use) is precisely like the problem with PEDs two+decades ago.

PEDs were tolerated for decades when they were about using greenies to fight the effects of fatigue. When PEDs evolved and players began obliterating the record books, MLB was forced to act. And that's about where we are with pitchers now - everyone is throwing in the mid-high 90s, every team has a few pitchers with breaking stuff that is unhittable and the game is changing. MLB is doing precisely what people wanted them to do about steroids - stop it before the game becomes unrecognizable.

I'm not sure what the right answer is. Doing nothing doesn't seem to be it. (At least not to me.)

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.
If we were talking about the health risks I would agree. But I don't believe for even a second that this is why MLB acted to ban steroids. They acted because they hated the loss of control that it represented. (IMO, of course.)
 
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sodenj5

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The thing is, rosin works perfectly well for the purpose you articulated.

The problem is that it doesn't provide the competitive edge that allows good pitchers to perform at elite levels. Which is why pitchers look for something that works better. And once pitchers see an above-average young pitcher turn into Gerrit Cole* and be rewarded with a $324 million dollar contract, they are chumps if they don't join the (literal) arms race themselves. In that sense the situation with Spider Tack (and all the other things they use) is precisely like the problem with PEDs two+decades ago.

PEDs were tolerated for decades when they were about using greenies to fight the effects of fatigue. When PEDs evolved and players began obliterating the record books, MLB was forced to act. And that's about where we are with pitchers now - everyone is throwing in the mid-high 90s, every team has a few pitchers with breaking stuff that is unhittable and the game is changing. MLB is doing precisely what people wanted the to do about steroids - stop it before the game becomes unrecognizable.

I'm not sure what the right answer is. Doing nothing doesn't seem to be it. (At least not to me.)



If we were talking about the health risks I would agree. But I don't believe for even a second that this is why MLB acted to ban steroids. They acted because they hated the loss of control that it represented. (IMO, of course.)
This exists to a certain extent in every sport. 25 years ago, receiver would spray stick-um spray on their gloves to catch the ball better. Now they just get gloves from Nike and Adidas that are the same thing, but no one complains because catching the ball one handed and scoring more TDs in football is cool. Also everyone has access to the same stuff. WRs, RBs, QBs, DBs, LBs. It’s an even playing field in terms of the advantage you gain from the newer gloves.

The bigger problem in baseball is it’s affecting the game in what is conceived as a negative manner. Strikeouts are up, offense is down, and that’s bad for baseball, therefore it’s now a problem.
 

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No question. I’m just pointing out that the issue isn’t that MLB doesn’t offer a regulated substance to get the job done. It’s that they don’t offer something that allows good pitchers to become great. (Or great pitchers to become otherworldly.)
 

jon abbey

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You're carrying a lot of water here.

It's completely possible that we can ask questions of both. Should it have been tolerated? No. But that doesn't mean a player has to do it.

That said, I do understand the pressure of keeping up with the Jones's
Again, this has nothing to do with who I root for, it’s fucking stupid to demonize players for this as dozens of people have written since yesterday.
 

Van Everyman

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Jesus Christ I get that he’s not a popular guy, but not everything is Rob Manfred’s fault. This shit has been happening for years and it’s only recently the game jumped the shark from less exciting to watch to unwatchable. To try to pin it on one guy is ridiculous – and does nothing to actually improve the game.

At some point people just need to own their mistakes and stop looking for someone else or a dark force to demonize.
 

Awesome Fossum

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not everything is Rob Manfred’s fault. This shit has been happening for years
That's why it's his fault, IMO. If hitters start corking their bats, that's on the hitters. But if other hitters are loudly pointing it out and no one acts, and then they also start corking their bats based on that inaction, that becomes a different situation.
 

VORP Speed

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Jesus Christ I get that he’s not a popular guy, but not everything is Rob Manfred’s fault. This shit has been happening for years and it’s only recently the game jumped the shark from less exciting to watch to unwatchable. To try to pin it on one guy is ridiculous – and does nothing to actually improve the game.

At some point people just need to own their mistakes and stop looking for someone else or a dark force to demonize.
Yeah, this isn't really anyone's "fault." Technology outpaces existing regulatory structures all the time across all different industries and the powers that be wake up to it only when it becomes blindingly obvious that there's a problem. It made perfect sense to look the other way on foreign substances when they were only "performance-stabilizing" --letting pitchers get a good grip to have more consistent command and execute close to their unaided ceiling more reliably. It's the recent perfect storm of Rapsodo type systems, changing pitcher usage patterns, advanced kinematic analysis, changes in pitcher training PLUS the super sticky fingers that have pushed things jarringly into the "performance enhancing" category. The sticky fingers don't increase velocity. They don't let you make microscopic adjustments in your grip to produce the perfect spin orientation. They don't let you tunnel your entire arsenal of pitch types. Cracking down on the industrial strength sticky fingers makes a ton of sense and should have a real impact, but that's not the only thing going on.
 

JCizzle

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That's why it's his fault, IMO. If hitters start corking their bats, that's on the hitters. But if other hitters are loudly pointing it out and no one acts, and then they also start corking their bats based on that inaction, that becomes a different situation.
Yeah, I'm really not sympathetic to Manfred when (as you pointed out) Bauer basically lit himself on fire flagging this issue by pointing out the insane Astros numbers before adopting it himself after Manfred ignored it. That the MLB seems to have passive aggressively targeted Bauer for enforcement this season is pretty lame. It's like if Bonds had made a huge public stink about steroids before finally doing it himself.

I blame Manfred for everything that led to today, but at this point it's on the players if they continue to use this stuff moving forward.
 

YTF

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Jesus Christ I get that he’s not a popular guy, but not everything is Rob Manfred’s fault. This shit has been happening for years and it’s only recently the game jumped the shark from less exciting to watch to unwatchable. To try to pin it on one guy is ridiculous – and does nothing to actually improve the game.

At some point people just need to own their mistakes and stop looking for someone else or a dark force to demonize.
I don't completely disagree with you, but Manfred's been in charge for six years now. He's floated lots of ideas for improving the game, while largely ignoring this issue.
 

Van Everyman

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He was also handed a big bag of shit from Bud -- declining ratings, financial problems, clearly a whole bunch of gamesmanship/cheating things. I'm not a fan of the guy or anything, but it wasn't like he inherited some well-oiled machine when he took over. Even if leadership is about stepping into the breach of these issues when no one else will, almost everything he's wrestled with over the last 6 years had been festering for a while and a lot of his least decisions, like the minor league contraction stuff or even the Astros punishment, are the result of stuff that has been bubbling up for a long time and often had been expressly ignored by owners and players alike. I think the bigger argument is that maybe a steward-type isn't really the right guy for this job right now.

Theo for Commish.
 

Average Reds

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That's why it's his fault, IMO. If hitters start corking their bats, that's on the hitters. But if other hitters are loudly pointing it out and no one acts, and then they also start corking their bats based on that inaction, that becomes a different situation.
The idea that people are not culpable for their misdeeds because the authorities were not stopping them (until they did) is some serious nonsense.

I’d also mention that it’s not an endorsement of Rob Manfred to note that the pitchers who drove this particular bus off the cliff are responsible for their actions.
 

Awesome Fossum

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The idea that people are not culpable for their misdeeds because the authorities were not stopping them (until they did) is some serious nonsense.
If you don't want to distinguish between the Phase 1 guys and the Phase 2 guys, I guess that's fine, but this standard at least ought to extend in all directions: the authorities are also culpable for their actions (or lack thereof). I don't see how anyone can deny that many pitchers interpreted the inaction as tacit approval, and I think that was a pretty reasonable second order effect to anticipate.
 

Gdiguy

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The idea that people are not culpable for their misdeeds because the authorities were not stopping them (until they did) is some serious nonsense.

I’d also mention that it’s not an endorsement of Rob Manfred to note that the pitchers who drove this particular bus off the cliff are responsible for their actions.
I'm more sympathetic to the former when there's literally no other options in that career area.

I completely agree with you when we're talking about say finding tax loopholes or speeding or something, where if you act honorably it doesn't really hurt you. In this case, though, the problem is that if everyone is improving their pitching by 5% by increasing spin rates, you could literally find yourself unable to get a job if you don't follow suit
 

YTF

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The idea that people are not culpable for their misdeeds because the authorities were not stopping them (until they did) is some serious nonsense.

I’d also mention that it’s not an endorsement of Rob Manfred to note that the pitchers who drove this particular bus off the cliff are responsible for their actions.
Agreed, the players should be culpable and at the same time MLB has rules and it's the job of MLB to enforce those rules. The culpability of that failure is on MLB/Rob Manfred. Of all the things that Manfred "inherited", wouldn't this be the easiest to fix should the league care to fix it? Rosin, that's it, that's all. Zero tolerance.
 

jtn46

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Again, this has nothing to do with who I root for, it’s fucking stupid to demonize players for this as dozens of people have written since yesterday.
I don’t think anyone needs to be demonized, the push and pull of pitching and offense put us here and it has affected game quality so lets change it. Hardly anyone will be disciplined, and likely baseball will have about the same perceived problems a month from now that it has today and people will go back to wanting shifts banned.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Has anyone at MLB suggested they will ban sunscreen for day games?
No, but recall the Buchholz incident a few years back when he was accused of loading up his arm with sunscreen and blending it with rosin to get a better grip. It's not difficult to draw a line from the league's non-response to that to where we are now.
 

Tangled Up In Red

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It's not legit. They can use a spray on sun screen.

This is ridiculous. The pitchers are cheating en masse and their response is to talk about sun care?
Of course it's ridiculous, but wasn't Bullfrog (spray on) mixed with rosin the preferred sticky method of many (notably Dice-K) over the past couple of decades?
 

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I'm more sympathetic to the former when there's literally no other options in that career area.

I completely agree with you when we're talking about say finding tax loopholes or speeding or something, where if you act honorably it doesn't really hurt you. In this case, though, the problem is that if everyone is improving their pitching by 5% by increasing spin rates, you could literally find yourself unable to get a job if you don't follow suit
I probably came across too stridently in the post you responded to, because I agree there is nuance and, as I explained in post #61, I am sympathetic to the pitchers who were placed at a competitive disadvantage by MLB refusing to crack down while obvious cheaters were prospering.

However, the circumstances are (IMO) an argument for leniency, not absolution.
 

joe dokes

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It's not legit. They can use a spray on sun screen.

This is ridiculous. The pitchers are cheating en masse and their response is to talk about sun care?
I wonder what %%% of pichers' sun-related health concerns extend to getting vaccinated.
 

geoduck no quahog

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I'm curious how this relates to Minor Leagues. Do minor league pitchers get trained or figure out how to cheat during their tenure? Or is this mostly a major league thing?

If it's not done in the minors, it would really impact hitters as they're promoted. It's one thing to jump from facing AAA to major league pitching without a baseball "substance abuse" - but combined it would be a hell of a challenge to kids as they face veterans.
 

OurF'ingCity

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Agreed, the players should be culpable and at the same time MLB has rules and it's the job of MLB to enforce those rules. The culpability of that failure is on MLB/Rob Manfred. Of all the things that Manfred "inherited", wouldn't this be the easiest to fix should the league care to fix it? Rosin, that's it, that's all. Zero tolerance.
In the past when this has been suggested, I've heard the argument that rosin doesn't give enough grip, particularly in the cold, and so even batters would prefer something else so they aren't getting hit with wild pitches. But I can't recall actually seeing any batters say that, so I'm not sure how much that is just a canard.

In any event though it doesn't really change your overall point, which I agree with - just select some league-approved substance (rosin or, if that's not good enough, whatever other substance the league and MLBPA can agree on) and ban any other substances from being used, period.
 

nvalvo

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This has clearly ramped up over the past few years as far as the effectiveness of whatever they're using, but as someone alluded to earlier, it's been 7 years since Michael Pineda was ejected for the glop on his neck. I clearly remember the refrain across baseball back then was that every pitcher is using a foreign substance, but you can't be stupid obvious about it. Manfred inherited another mess that began under Selig's watch, but chose to continue ignoring it.
 

ledsox

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Hey Bubba, it's Gerrit Cole, I was wondering if you could help me out with this sticky situation," the pitcher wrote, adding a wink emoji. "We don't see you until May, but we have some road games in April that are in cold weather places. The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold."

https://www.thescore.com/mlb/news/2180019

Not to demonize Cole but this is an interesting article on the effects of the various substances. Experiments were done in a facility in PA. Cole was communicating with a supplier who worked for the Angels at the time.
 

Gdiguy

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If you’re going with him, though, worth then mentioning he thinks MLB is conspiring to liven or deaden the ball based on whether there’s more pitchers or hitters hitting arb /fa

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/31599594/new-york-mets-pete-alonso-posits-mlb-manipulates-baseball-based-free-agent-class

So it definitely seems like there’s a lot of trust with MLB floating around in any case
 

YTF

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Hey Bubba, it's Gerrit Cole, I was wondering if you could help me out with this sticky situation," the pitcher wrote, adding a wink emoji. "We don't see you until May, but we have some road games in April that are in cold weather places. The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold."

https://www.thescore.com/mlb/news/2180019

Not to demonize Cole but this is an interesting article on the effects of the various substances. Experiments were done in a facility in PA. Cole was communicating with a supplier who worked for the Angels at the time.
Check this out at the 14 second mark. I wonder if Mike Shildt has been asked about this. View: https://twitter.com/TonyAndracki23/status/1379473289987391495?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1379473289987391495%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thescore.com%2Fmlb%2Fnews%2F2180019
 

jon abbey

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So it definitely seems like there’s a lot of trust with MLB floating around in any case
Yeah, I don't think Alonso is right but everything MLB does at this point needs to be filtered through the upcoming CBA negotiations, which are going to be very ugly.
 

nvalvo

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If you’re going with him, though, worth then mentioning he thinks MLB is conspiring to liven or deaden the ball based on whether there’s more pitchers or hitters hitting arb /fa

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/31599594/new-york-mets-pete-alonso-posits-mlb-manipulates-baseball-based-free-agent-class

So it definitely seems like there’s a lot of trust with MLB floating around in any case
It is interesting that he sees those things as linked, and his statement certainly highlights the commissioner's lack of credibility with players, which makes it hard for their interventions in rules like this to be seen as impartial and for the good of the game.
 

geoduck no quahog

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Hey Bubba, it's Gerrit Cole, I was wondering if you could help me out with this sticky situation," the pitcher wrote, adding a wink emoji. "We don't see you until May, but we have some road games in April that are in cold weather places. The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold."

https://www.thescore.com/mlb/news/2180019

Not to demonize Cole but this is an interesting article on the effects of the various substances. Experiments were done in a facility in PA. Cole was communicating with a supplier who worked for the Angels at the time.
Although there was a lot of good information in that piece (particularly how sunscreen alone reduces spin) - it was, really, one of the worst written articles in history. Someone needed to help that writer out.

It's also clear that this has been going on in the minors for a while. I wonder if it's also a high school/college thing?

Today's Globe article mentioned how Japanese and Korean leagues use tacky baseballs - and that American balls are inconsistant in surface prep. It was mentioned way upthread that our leagues should just develop balls that don't require additional substances to ensure grip and control. Seems like an easy fix. Why can't we do that? (It would make the use of any foreign substance illegal while still ensuring control over your balls).