The MLB has found itself in a "stickier" situation. The league cracks down and players are not happy
MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, has already found himself in some sticky situations over the past few years, leaving fans, players, coaches, and the media to constantly provide criticism. In his latest move, the MLB announced that it has provided guidance to all 30 clubs and to the umpires to serve as “a uniform standard for the consistent application of the rules, including regular checks of all pitchers regardless of whether an opposing club’s manager makes a request.” While pitchers have used substances for decades to help with their gripping, predominantly sunscreen and rosin, the MLB has never had a true stance on the matter. With potential, alterations, and additions, i.e., Spider Tack, the league was forced to come up with an opinion. Over the past few days, these concerns have become more public and have played out to form an official ban.
This conversation is a tale as old as time, but most recently, Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson began to open up. Off-handedly, he alleged the Gerrit Cole and others have been using foreign substances. He mentioned Cole specifically because, in his previous outing, the ball didn't rotate as much as it normally does. Donaldson casually wondered aloud last week whether Cole had suddenly stopped using substances that could spike his spin rates, fearing an MLB crackdown.
“I understand this topic is important to everybody that cares about the game. In regards to Josh, I kind of felt like it was a bit of a low-hanging fruit, but he’s entitled to his opinion and to voice his opinion, so I just have other things that I need to keep my focus on.” ~ Gerrit Cole
A few short days later, more conversations took place. It was a cat and mouse game of, he does it, I do it, we all do it (or don't). Then, the ban was dropped like a bombshell. According to the new guidelines, any pitcher who applies foreign substances or is in possession of said substance will be ejected from the game and will receive a 10 game suspension. Umpires will be monitoring the situation closely, forcing mandatory checks throughout the game for starting pitchers (minimum of one) and relievers at the end of each inning when they enter or exit the game. They'll take place in between innings so no delays occur.
Forcing pitchers to change their routines at the flip of a switch can be concerning. Obviously, pine-tar or even this new phenomenon of spider tack is not good for the game, but sunscreen and rosin are also considered "illegal". Some pitchers have been taught to use this since college, maybe even earlier. For them to change their whole approach overnight can be the perfect storm for an injury.
Enter Tyler Glasnow. Arguably one of the league's top performers fell to injury after the change. He was recently placed on the 10-day injured list after being diagnosed with a partially torn UCL and a flexor strain in his throwing arm. Clearly frustrated by the injury, Glasnow stated that the ball was “extremely slick” on Monday night, which made it difficult to grip. “I think having to grip a ball extremely hard when you throw hard and when your muscle is already extremely tense, and then you have to somehow try to not hit someone in the face -- I don't know,” Glasnow said. “I think whenever I'm trying to hold the ball a lot tighter, it's probably not going to add to a comfortable elbow feeling. Again, I don't know. I just think it'd be nice to make it more consistent.” Later on, he went on to show his concern about the league's decision.
Trevor Bauer, who is already critical of how the league is managed and performed, sounded off on the decision as well.
White Sox pitcher, Carlos Rodon, wasn't too thrilled about the league's decision, but more heated about the decision they didn't make. "10-game suspension for cheating but you but you give the Astros no suspension at all"
This is a slippery slope for the MLB, and it doesn't reflect well on Manfred. Was this the correct move? If it fixes the integrity of the game then by all means, but the way the league handled it, struck a chord for players across the country. No idea how they will clean this mess, but expect the remainder of the season to look a lot different. Between the 2020 players vs owners debacle and now this, let's hope we have baseball in 2022...