Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sources: MLB seeking new ball with stickier cover so it can enforce foreign-substance rule

MLB has commissioned Rawlings, its official manufacturer, to produce a ball with natural tack on the leather in hopes of eliminating the need for pine tar, sunscreen and rosin, or any other foreign substances whose use in recent years has blurred the legal-illegal line, sources familiar with the project told Yahoo Sports. The balls also would not need a pregame polish of Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud, the New Jersey-harvested muck that for decades has taken the sheen off the pearls that come out of the box.

“We think we’re close now,” Mike Thompson, an executive vice president at Rawlings, told Yahoo Sports. “We’re just waiting for MLB to give us the go-ahead on when they want it.”

This will mark Version 2.0 of the enhanced-grip project. In early November, boxes of bright-white baseballs showed up across team complexes throughout the Phoenix area. The Arizona Fall League turned into a testing ground for the tacky balls, first during workouts and then for two days’ worth of games.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 28, 2017 at 11:10 AM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: ball, baseball, foreign substances

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: February 28, 2017 at 01:05 PM (#5410061)
OK, this is probably a dumb question but I'm a dumb guy so I'm OK with it;

would a stickier ball reduce distance on batted balls? I realize we aren't talking about a ball with gorilla glue on it but would the ball rebound off the wood bat differently and thus travel a bit less distance?
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2017 at 01:25 PM (#5410082)
would a stickier ball reduce distance on batted balls? I realize we aren't talking about a ball with gorilla glue on it but would the ball rebound off the wood bat differently and thus travel a bit less distance?

I think it would be about greater air resistance than "sticking" to the bat. But, a ball with a rougher surface area should encounter more wind resistance and travel less.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 28, 2017 at 01:37 PM (#5410098)
pine tar, sunscreen and rosin, or any other foreign substances whose use in recent years has blurred the legal-illegal line

Wait, how do these in any way "blur the line legal-illegal line?" Aren't they all just illegal? Or is anything goes in the Carter Capps era?
   4. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 28, 2017 at 01:56 PM (#5410120)
Wait, how do these in any way "blur the line legal-illegal line?" Aren't they all just illegal?


rosin's been legal for millenia
   5. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 28, 2017 at 02:03 PM (#5410133)
In terms of dusting your hand with the rosin bag, yeah, but I guess I was thinking more of someone putting a big smear or glob of rosin on the ball. Wouldn't that be illegal?
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: February 28, 2017 at 02:22 PM (#5410148)
The need for the New Jersey mud and the legality of rosin use has always seemed a little weird to me.
   7. sotapop Posted: February 28, 2017 at 02:27 PM (#5410153)
a ball with a rougher surface area should encounter more wind resistance and travel less.


Interesting question. This always seemed counter-intuitive to me, but the dimples on a golf ball help it travel farther. But they're regularly shaped and spaced, probably quite different from just a rougher surface on a standard baseball.
   8. Greg Pope Posted: February 28, 2017 at 02:29 PM (#5410157)
But, a ball with a rougher surface area should encounter more wind resistance and travel less.

I thought that golf balls have dimples because they fly farther (further?) than a smooth ball would.
   9. Ron J Posted: February 28, 2017 at 02:32 PM (#5410160)
#5 Gaylord Perry (among others) used a puffball. It's now specifically prohibited, but the idea was that you'd get a little rosin cloud when releasing the ball. A lot of hitters said it was tough to pick up the ball when he did this. (Actually Perry took it one step further. He'd use flour rather than rosin)

In his autobiography Ken Kaiser said he would never call a strike on one of Perry's puffballs (before it was specifically outlawed -- which happened in 1981). I'm pretty sure that this is a cure that's worse than the disease.

EDIT: As to how Perry was able to use flour, at the time the home team handled the rosin bags and Perry would prepare his own. Of course umpires are responsible for them not. Yet another small change prompted by Perry's actions.
   10. Ron J Posted: February 28, 2017 at 02:38 PM (#5410170)
#8 But those dimples are designed with extreme care.

Here is a good basic article on the physics of golf balls.

In fact the dimples do increase drag very slightly. But there's a useful tradeoff.

EDIT: Weird typo
   11. catomi01 Posted: February 28, 2017 at 02:44 PM (#5410183)
If rosin is legal for pitchers, and both rosin and pine tar legal for batters - why not just make it legal for the pitcher to use pine tar too - but it stays in the dugout - basically, he can apply it to his fingers between innings, but not directly to the ball. anything else on the ball, or anything on the pitcher's body or uniform stays illegal. Seems simpler than designing a new ball. Pine tar would help grip only, not let the pitcher break off wiffle ball style curves.

and pine is going to find its way onto the ball no matter what. As I catcher, I used to throw a quick layer on the inside of my glove - so every pitch I caught got a bit on it, which the pitcher could work in himself.
   12. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: February 28, 2017 at 02:56 PM (#5410198)
I imagine fielding a stickier ball and then quickly throwing it will be more difficult. Of course maybe the shoe string catch becomes slightly easier as well.
   13. villageidiom Posted: February 28, 2017 at 03:00 PM (#5410203)
Wait, how do these in any way "blur the line legal-illegal line?" Aren't they all just illegal? Or is anything goes in the Carter Capps era?
The rules against foreign substances are intended to prohibit foreign substances being applied (a) to the ball (b) intentionally (c) to alter the shape of the ball or to discolor it. The rules are not intended to prevent a pitcher from being able to grip a ball better, nor to facilitate skin cancer.

Where the line gets blurred is that a pitcher can be ejected simply for having foreign substances on him, even if they were not found on the ball. That goes back to a zero-tolerance policy for the Gaylord Perrys of the world. Several pitchers have been accused of crossing the line because of excess sunscreen, or a mix of sunscreen and rosin, or whatever. I guess the thought is that if the ball is naturally easier to grip there isn't as great a demand among pitchers to do this stuff.
   14. Styles P. Deadball Posted: February 28, 2017 at 03:23 PM (#5410241)
Pine tar smells like s*^t. I used to hate it when guys would smear it on the handle of my bat. We were swinging aluminum, so I can't imagine that the stuff helped grip the bat in the least. My guess is they liked to pretend they were big leaguers and that's about it... Do that with someone else's Easton!
   15. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: February 28, 2017 at 03:47 PM (#5410282)
   16. Cargo Cultist Posted: February 28, 2017 at 03:51 PM (#5410287)
Damn. Manfred is just absolutely chock-full of stupid ideas.
   17. eddieot Posted: February 28, 2017 at 04:23 PM (#5410316)
Because pitchers aren't already primadonnas? This is going to be a s**t show...
   18. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: February 28, 2017 at 04:35 PM (#5410328)
Manfred is just absolutely chock-full of stupid ideas.

I never thought I'd miss the calm restraint of Commissioner Selig, but here we are...
   19. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: February 28, 2017 at 04:40 PM (#5410333)
Damn. Manfred is just absolutely chock-full of stupid ideas.


Yes he is. He's inventing problems that don't exist.
   20. catomi01 Posted: February 28, 2017 at 04:42 PM (#5410337)
Pine tar smells like s*^t. I used to hate it when guys would smear it on the handle of my bat. We were swinging aluminum, so I can't imagine that the stuff helped grip the bat in the least. My guess is they liked to pretend they were big leaguers and that's about it... Do that with someone else's Easton!


Pine tar will help just about any bat I think. I use it on most of my softball bats when they are new and have a stock grip on them. Once that wears out I usually switch out the grip for a different kind (lizard skin brand) that doesn't seem to need it.
   21. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: February 28, 2017 at 05:01 PM (#5410345)
Just mix rosin with sunscreen and, as Dirk Hayhurst put it in his autobiography, "you can make the ball hang from your fingers."

It might be better to just leave the balls as-is and strictly enforce the existing foreign substance rules. It probably would noticeably reduce strikeouts. The trouble is, though MLB would not have to go through the players' union to enforce existing rules, it would probably threaten the careers of a lot of pitchers, which wouldn't put the MLBPA in a good mood next time it comes to the collective bargaining table.
   22. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: February 28, 2017 at 06:17 PM (#5410418)
I think it would be about greater air resistance than "sticking" to the bat. But, a ball with a rougher surface area should encounter more wind resistance and travel less.
I agree that the aerodynamic properties would likely have a much much greater effect than a change in the way the ball rebounded (essentially a change in the effective coefficient of restitution I believe?). But I think the seams still being raised would probably greatly reduce any effect on the overall aerodynamics.
   23. Zach Posted: February 28, 2017 at 06:37 PM (#5410429)
Wait, how do these in any way "blur the line legal-illegal line?" Aren't they all just illegal? Or is anything goes in the Carter Capps era?

I've been reading for at least a few years that pine tar used to improve a pitcher's grip is allowed in practice, even though it's technically against the rules. Sunscreen and rosin seems to be treated similarly.

I think Manfred's dream scenario is that someday we could use instant replay to determine if a pitcher had an unacceptably sticky hand when he threw a pitch. If that happens, we'd put a ghost runner on second, who would be deemed to try for home on a hit ball provided the manager signals from the dugout.

   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 28, 2017 at 06:39 PM (#5410430)
I think Manfred's dream scenario is that someday we could use instant replay to determine if a pitcher had an unacceptably sticky hand when he threw a pitch.

(...from ten feet in front of the batter following a trip down the hopscotch board Manfred had installed in all MLB parks)
   25. Rob_Wood Posted: February 28, 2017 at 07:13 PM (#5410448)
I am sure there were others, but I remember Phil Regan being undressed on the Wrigley Field mound by an umpire looking for a foreign substance.

Edit: The internet makes me believe this occurred on May 7, 1970 and the search was described as "very thorough".
   26. cardsfanboy Posted: February 28, 2017 at 07:28 PM (#5410454)
Not that anyone on this thread is doing this, but when someone comes up with a "new" idea like this, aren't there generally just a few questions to ask.
1. Does this fix something that is broken.
2. Is this the best solution?(other words, what are some other solutions out there for this problem)
2a. Is this at least a step in the right direction solution.
3. Are there potential unintended consequences, and if so what could they be?

4. Does this improve the current situation?
5. What is the best case and worst case scenarios?


(I'm forgetting a few basic questions)

Apparently Manfred has identified an issue with illegal substances being used by pitchers and has decided that it's a problem that needs to be fixed. One of the options he has come up with is a more tackier ball...what other options are out there? Wouldn't the first option out there be to consider legalizing some foreign substances under controlled situations? I mean the tackier ball is an option of course, but if the thought process is about combating foreign substances, then the thought process needs to focus on why substances are both illegal and desired to be used, this tackier ball seems to be implying that pitchers want a better grip, and that a tackier ball would fix the problem, but if that is the case, wouldn't also allowing resin or something else accomplish the same thing, and not required an R&D expenditure?

   27. Zach Posted: February 28, 2017 at 07:58 PM (#5410464)
#26 -- yeah, you have to ask yourself if this is really a problem that needs to be addressed, or if it can just be dealt with with benign neglect, like baseball always does.
   28. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: February 28, 2017 at 08:37 PM (#5410479)
I have a hard time perceiving much benefit from investing time and money into inventing a stickier baseball, as opposed to simply continuing the status quo of allowing pitchers to put whatever they want on their fingers so long as they're not altering the ball itself or being so obvious about it that every schmuck watching on TV can see it.
   29. Boxkutter Posted: February 28, 2017 at 09:25 PM (#5410507)
I thought that golf balls have dimples because they fly farther (further?) than a smooth ball would.


Farther is correct. Further is for when not talking actual distance. Like making your money go further.
   30. Rusty Priske Posted: March 01, 2017 at 09:23 AM (#5410631)
It might be better to just leave the balls as-is and strictly enforce the existing foreign substance rules.


The thing with this is - if you believe what some pitchers have said - it would actually ruin the game as it would be nearly impossible to pitch effectively.
   31. Rough Carrigan Posted: March 01, 2017 at 12:34 PM (#5410802)
Daisuke Matsuzaka apparently said, privately, that the MLB baseball using cowhide was not as easy to grip as the NPB ball that used horsehide (as MLB did up till something like 1976). What about just going back to using horsehide balls at least for MLB even if you let all the other balls still be cowhide?

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
tshipman
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOT - 2018 NBA Summer Potpourri (finals, draft, free agency, Colangelo dragging)
(3471 - 12:54am, Jul 20)
Last: stevegamer

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 7-18-2018
(25 - 12:35am, Jul 20)
Last: stevegamer

NewsblogOTP 2018 July 16: Why Does President Trump Balk At Attending Baseball Games?
(1093 - 12:14am, Jul 20)
Last: Ray (CTL)

NewsblogIndians deal for ace reliever Brad Hand
(25 - 12:05am, Jul 20)
Last: Walt Davis

Gonfalon CubsLooking Forward
(40 - 11:47pm, Jul 19)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogIs one game really worth an OMNCHATTER! for July 19, 2018
(110 - 11:41pm, Jul 19)
Last: Howie Menckel

NewsblogOT Gaming: October 2015
(802 - 11:39pm, Jul 19)
Last: PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina

Newsblog10 Years Ago, Two Trades Broke The Mold For MLB Deadline Deals
(18 - 10:33pm, Jul 19)
Last: Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams)

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 7-19-2018
(35 - 8:43pm, Jul 19)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogRob Manfred: Mike Trout limits his popularity because he won't market himself
(94 - 8:21pm, Jul 19)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogManny Machado blockbuster makes Dodgers the NL's team to beat
(16 - 8:11pm, Jul 19)
Last: snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster)

NewsblogOT: Soccer Thread (World Cup)
(3245 - 6:01pm, Jul 19)
Last: Sean Forman

NewsblogIs Chase Utley a Hall of Famer?
(71 - 2:17pm, Jul 19)
Last: this is normal 57i66135. move on, find a new slant

NewsblogOT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (let's call it July 2018)
(587 - 12:09pm, Jul 19)
Last: stig-tossled,hornswoggled gef the talking mongoose

NewsblogAaron Judge — Huge Talent, Phenomenal Trade Bait
(11 - 12:05pm, Jul 19)
Last: ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick

Page rendered in 0.3375 seconds
46 querie(s) executed