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Foreign Substances Newsbeat

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Is MLB’s Crackdown on Spider Tack Already Exposing the Red Sox’ Pitching Staff?

On the day the SI piece came out,  Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi pitched at Yankee Stadium and allowed one earned run over six innings while striking out seven batters in a 5-2 victory. Though Eovaldi threw the ball well and got the win, the spin rate on the majority of his pitches was down substantially, with his cutter down 26 revolutions per minute compared to his yearly average, his slider down 30 RPM, his fastball down 51 RPM and his splitter down 166 RPM, according to The Boston Herald. In the 10 days after Eovaldi pitched, three other Red Sox starters (Rodriguez, Nick Pivetta and Martin Perez) also saw the spin rates on their off-speed pitches drop.

In the nine games since that win, the Red Sox have given up at least three runs in every game and allowed five or more in six straight games (as of Monday afternoon), including 18 to the Blue Jays in a Sunday slugfest that saw Toronto hit eight home runs and chase Perez after he recorded just four outs. That game was the third in a row against the Jays, a stretch that was preceded by three against the Astros. In those six games, the Red Sox surrendered 53 runs, which equates to 8.83 per game. Over the course of seven May games against the Jays and Astros, two of the best offensive teams in baseball, Boston pitchers gave up 37 runs, an average of just 5.28 per game.

Entering play on Monday, Red Sox starters had an 8.20 ERA and allowed 40 earned runs on 66 hits over 39 innings in the nine games since Eovaldi pitched in the Bronx. That evidence strongly suggests that the team put the kibosh on whatever its pitchers were doing on the mound in order to avoid attracting the raised attention of MLB and risking another suspension — or worse — for Cora.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 15, 2021 at 04:50 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: foreign substances, red sox

MLB players caught with any foreign substance to face 10-day suspension, sources say

Major League Baseball is expected to announce Tuesday that it will suspend players caught with any foreign substance for 10 days with pay to help curtail the widespread use of grip enhancers by pitchers around the league, sources familiar with the plans told ESPN.

The league is expected to distribute a memo to teams—which have been briefed on the broad strokes of the policy change—that outlines its plans to penalize all players caught by umpires with any foreign substance on their person, from the widely used sunscreen-and-rosin combination to Spider Tack, an industrial glue that has become a favorite among pitchers who want to generate more spin on the ball.

The liberal interpretation of Rules 3.01 and 6.02(c), which ban the use of foreign substances, would discipline all substances the same. While there is a “broad consensus among players that Spider Tack is over the line,” a high-ranking person on the players’ side told ESPN on Monday, the full ban of all grip agents could rankle players. A longtime umpire told ESPN the hard line is vital as he and his brethren attempt an on-the-fly enforcement of a rule that for years has been ignored.

However significant players’ reliance on sticky stuff has become, and regardless of how responsible teams and the league were for enabling another cheating scandal to burrow its way into baseball, the efforts to rid the game of grip enhancers have arrived and will begin in earnest June 21, sources said.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 15, 2021 at 09:01 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: foreign substances

Monday, June 14, 2021

He Made Sticky Stuff for MLB Pitchers for 15 Years. Now He’s Speaking Out.

Harkins remains stunned at his status as the first—and so far only—casualty of MLB’s recent war on pitch doctoring. He does not deny the allegations; he readily admits that he’d been supplying both Angels and opposing pitchers for more than a decade with his home-cooked mixture of liquid pine tar, solid pine tar (often called Mota stick) and rosin. He claims he’d done special orders for some of the biggest names in the game, including Nationals ace Max Scherzer and Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, then with the Astros. Harkins shared with SI screenshots of text messages that support his claims, including an exchange with a contact who identified himself as Cole, the hurler who has been at the center of much of the recent controversy around pitch doctoring. Harkins also shared the underlying phone numbers for all text exchanges; SI used various public records databases to confirm that the numbers are associated—or were associated at the time they were sent—with the people Harkins claimed to be texting with.

“Hey Bubba, it’s Gerrit Cole,” came a message from Cole’s number in January 2019. “I was wondering if you could help me out with this sticky situation,” the text continued, along with a winking emoji. “The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold, can you come up with, or do you have a mix that will play better in cold weather?”

“Hey Cole, the only thing I think I can do is put more tar in it and less [Mota] stick,” Harkins responded. “I’ll play around with it and see.”

The reply from Cole’s phone: “We tried mixing the liquid in it and it definitely helped but it was a sloppy mess. I feel like incorporating a different ratio from the beginning of the process would be more ideal.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 14, 2021 at 11:08 PM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: foreign substances

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole on whether he ever used Spider Tack while pitching: ‘I don’t quite know how to answer that’

Amid a Major League Baseball crackdown on pitcher-friendly foreign substances, New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole struggled to give an answer when asked Tuesday whether he has ever used a particular sticky paste called Spider Tack while on the mound.

“I don’t [long pause] ... I don’t know ... I don’t quite know how to answer that, to be honest,” Cole said during his videoconference with reporters before the Yankees began a three-game series at Minnesota.

He then paused again before continuing, “There are customs and practices that have been passed down from older players to younger players, from the last generation of players to this generation of players, and I think there are some things that are certainly out of bounds in that regard.

“This is important to a lot of people who love the game, including the players in this room, including fans, including teams, so if MLB wants to legislate some more stuff, that’s a conversation that we can have. Because ultimately we should all be pulling in the same direction on this.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 09, 2021 at 09:53 AM | 65 comment(s)
  Beats: foreign substances, gerrit cole

Friday, June 04, 2021

SI:  ‘This Should Be the Biggest Scandal in Sports’

From the dugout, players and coaches shake their heads as they listen to pitchers’ deliveries. “You can hear the friction,” says an American League manager. The recently retired pitcher likens it to the sound of ripping off a Band-Aid. A major league team executive says his players have examined foul balls and found the MLB logo torn straight off the leather.

In many clubhouses across the sport, the training room has become the scene of the crime: Pitchers head in there before games to swipe tongue depressors, which they use to apply their sticky stuff to wherever they choose to hide it, then return afterward to grab rubbing alcohol to dissolve the residue. Even that is not always sufficient. One National League journeyman reliever, who says he uses Pelican Grip Dip, a pine tar/rosin blend typically used by hitters to help grip their bats, has been flagged at airport security. ...

As MLB dawdles, and batting averages dwindle, the use of substances has become all but institutionalized. One NL reliever, who says he does not apply anything to the baseball because sticky stuff disrupts the feel of his sinker, says his pitching coach suggested this year that he try it. An AL reliever, who says he uses a mixture of sunscreen and rosin, recalls a spring-training meeting in 2019 in which the team’s pitching coach told the group, “A lot of people around the league are using sticky stuff to make their fastballs have more lift. And if you’re not using it, you should consider it, because you’re kind of behind.” The clubhouse attendants of at least one minor league team, according to a player, stock cans of Tyrus Sticky Grip, another product intended to keep hitters from accidentally flinging their bats, and distribute them to pitchers who ask. The NL reliever who uses Pelican says he played for a team that hired a chemist—away from another club—whose duties include developing sticky stuff.

An SI analysis of Statcast data suggests that one team in particular leads the industry in spin: the defending world champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 04, 2021 at 10:58 AM | 50 comment(s)
  Beats: foreign substances

Thursday, June 03, 2021

MLB owners emerge from meeting with plan to combat cheating epidemic

Major league owners concluded two days of meetings Thursday with a plan to increase enforcement against pitchers using illegal sticky substances in the game.

The league would not comment on the context of the meetings, but sources involved said the current strategy is three-pronged:

Place a greater responsibility on teams to enforce rules against doctoring the ball within their own clubs.
Empowering umpires to check, especially caps, gloves and uniforms, if there are clear signs of illegal substances on a pitcher. The hope is to throw out a piece of equipment/uniform rather than the player as a way to avoid suspensions and confrontations with players and the union.
Stepping up enforcement in the minor leagues as a way to address a systemic problem within the sport.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 03, 2021 at 05:00 PM | 39 comment(s)
  Beats: foreign substances

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

4 minor league pitchers suspended for foreign substances

Four minor league pitchers have been suspended this season by Major League Baseball after being caught using illegal foreign substances to doctor baseballs, signaling a stronger crackdown in the game’s feeder system than in the big leagues during a historically dominant stretch by pitchers.

The use of homebrewed tacky substances — mixtures often involve sunscreen and rosin — is suspected to have spiked in recent seasons as pitchers have learned the extent to which illicit sticky stuff can increase the spin rates on their fastballs, making the pitches more effective….

White Sox right-hander Marcus Evey of Low-A Kannapolis was the first, receiving a 10-game ban from MLB after he was ejected from a May 13 game when umpires discovered a foreign substance.

Three more players were suspended 10 games after being busted last weekend — Sal Biasi of High-A Winston Salem in the White Sox system, Kai-Wei Teng of High-A Eugene with the San Francisco Giants and Mason Englert of Low-A Down East with the Texas Rangers.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 02, 2021 at 11:32 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: foreign substances

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Joe West confiscates Gallegos’ hat after apparently finding substance

Umpire Joe West confiscated St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos’ hat for apparently having a foreign substance on the bill.

West appeared to spot the substance on Gallegos’ red hat while he was jogging in from the bullpen during Wednesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox. The ump ordered the hat confiscated so the league could investigate the issue.

While Gallegos was allowed to stay in and pitch with a new hat, West ejected Cardinals manager Mike Shildt after he protested the decision.

West told a pool reporter that he had Gallegos change the cap so he wouldn’t be ejected later.

“Rather than get into a confrontation after the fact and put the pitcher in jeopardy, I decided to make him remove the hat so that he doesn’t do anything with an illegal substance on his hat,” West explained to the Belleville News-Democrat’s Jeff Jones. “All I asked him was to change the hat. I don’t think he had any problem with it. He said it was sunscreen.

“When Mike (Shildt) got upset about it, I don’t think he really knew what we were doing. I was just trying to keep the pitcher in the game.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 26, 2021 at 06:31 PM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: foreign substances, giovanny gallegos

Friday, May 21, 2021

The Athletic [$]: ‘What are we even doing here?’: Around baseball, players raise concerns about pitchers’ use of foreign substances

Royals general manager Dayton Moore said even hitters agree that baseballs require a certain level of tackiness for pitchers to control their pitches. No longer, however, is this simply a question of safety for hitters, who are getting hit by pitches at a record pace in part because pitchers are throwing with greater velocity and better movement. Certain advanced substances help produce greater spin rates than, say, a combination of sunscreen and rosin.

Since the start of the Statcast era in 2015, the percentage of fastballs thrown with spin rates over 2400 RPM has nearly doubled, from 18 percent to 35 percent. The NL pitcher, like others before him, said it is impossible to achieve such dramatic increases in spin rate naturally. Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer and White Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino are among those who said the substances also help enhance movement on breaking balls

“They are using stuff, I think it is very obvious,” said Palmer, a member of the Orioles broadcast team. “It’s blatant even if you can’t see them going to their forearm or anything every second. I hit 38 guys in (3,948) innings and now people are saying you need it for grip? It’s an excuse, we all know that. They are using it to be better.

“All of a sudden, you can take any pitcher and increase his spin rates. We have to look at why that’s happening, if (league officials) want to change it.  Do they want to change it? Or does everyone just like no-hitters?”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 21, 2021 at 12:30 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: foreign substances

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Fired Angels employee Bubba Harkins names Cole, others he says used his illegal product

The text message from then-Houston Astros star Gerrit Cole to former Angels visiting clubhouse manager Brian “Bubba” Harkins was sent Jan. 17, 2019, at 11:39 a.m.

“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.”

The exchange between Cole, now the New York Yankees ace, and Harkins, who was fired last March for providing illegal ball-doctoring substances to visiting pitchers, was submitted in Orange County Superior Court as evidence Thursday by an attorney claiming Harkins was made a “public scapegoat” in baseball’s efforts to crack down on the use of foreign substances.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 07, 2021 at 11:57 PM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: foreign substances, gerrit cole



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