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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 | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: foreign substances

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   1. winnipegwhip Posted: June 14, 2021 at 11:32 PM (#6024250)
I -- I never know no Angels. I have my own teams, Commissioner.

I don't know nothin' about that. Oh! I was in the Delaware river mud business with his father, but that was a long time ago. That's all.

Look, the MLB guys, they promised me a deal. So, so I made up a lot of stuff about Gerrit Cole 'cause that's what they wanted.

But -- But it was all lies. Uh...everything!

They kept saying Gerrit Cole uses this and Gerrit Cole uses that. So, I said, "Yeah, sure." Why not?
   2. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: June 15, 2021 at 12:15 AM (#6024252)
he readily admits that he’d been supplying both Angels


Whatever he was doing for the Angels has not been working the last 11 years as they've only finished 1st once....
   3. Meatwad Posted: June 15, 2021 at 01:18 AM (#6024255)
Whatever he was doing for the Angels has not been working the last 11 years as they've only finished 1st once....

He also supplying them with rocks that keep bears away.
   4. The Duke Posted: June 15, 2021 at 06:57 AM (#6024257)
“Your favorite pitcher is probably using sticky stuff “
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: June 15, 2021 at 08:37 AM (#6024261)
Angels
Snoop Dogg warned us about this going on in southern California 20 years ago: "Some of that real sticky-icky-icky, Ooh wee! Put it in the air!"
   6. Baldrick Posted: June 15, 2021 at 10:31 AM (#6024267)
This is such a weird 'scandal.' I'm not mad at any of the pitchers. I even think anyone did anything 'wrong' apart from MLB itself who let things get far enough along that there had to be a big public turnabout on rule enforcement.

I never felt the moral panic about steroids but I could certainly understand why others did. This time...just figure something out and everyone will be fine.
   7. Russ Posted: June 15, 2021 at 11:56 AM (#6024277)
I never felt the moral panic about steroids but I could certainly understand why others did


The moral issue with steroids was the choice the players had to make between taking a substance that would improve their play but risk their health vs. not jeopardizing their health but falling behind their peers who were using. Given the nature of their occupational field, the risk of allowing steroid use was unacceptably high.

I don't think there is any such risk with the ball doctoring, unless there is something out there that shows that pitchers are throwing harder and injuring batters or there is some carcinogenic tar risk that I don't know about. So, as you said, just figure something out and move on.
   8. Jay Seaver Posted: June 15, 2021 at 02:02 PM (#6024291)
I don't think there is any such risk with the ball doctoring, unless there is something out there that shows that pitchers are throwing harder and injuring batters


That's part of the understanding when pitchers say that hitters say they want pitchers using something, right - that hitters don't want 98mph fastballs slipping out of hands in the direction of their heads, so the pitcher using some sort of goo has an advantage over similar pitchers who can throw as hard but don't because they might not be able to control it. They're not risking injury to themselves, but fear of someone getting hurt is holding them back.
   9. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 15, 2021 at 02:13 PM (#6024292)
but does anyone really believe that? HBP are at an all time high.
   10. The Duke Posted: June 15, 2021 at 02:20 PM (#6024297)
7. Bryce Harper would disagree with you
   11. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: June 15, 2021 at 02:29 PM (#6024300)
but does anyone really believe that? HBP are at an all time high.


They are but that's not really a new thing. The number this year is very high but the highest HBP seasons are either pre-1900s or post-2000. Of the top 30 HBP seasons 28 are from those two time periods with 1901 and 1911 the outliers. Hitters have made a decision to get closer to the plate in the last quarter century. So I don't think hitters are getting hit because pitchers are losing grip. The 0.43 HBP per team game is not that different from the 0.39 in 2001.
   12. Jay Seaver Posted: June 15, 2021 at 02:59 PM (#6024307)
I think it's possible that, yeah, pitchers using some gunk has kept the HBP numbers from rising as fast as they otherwise might, although I also tend to think pitchers offer it up as an excuse because it sets the way hitters will be asked questions about the topic.
   13. villageidiom Posted: June 15, 2021 at 03:26 PM (#6024314)
That's part of the understanding when pitchers say that hitters say they want pitchers using something, right - that hitters don't want 98mph fastballs slipping out of hands in the direction of their heads, so the pitcher using some sort of goo has an advantage over similar pitchers who can throw as hard but don't because they might not be able to control it.
I think when hitters said "I want pitchers using sticky stuff so I don't get hit by a pitch they can't control" some were deflecting from having to say "I don't want pitchers doing that - but the pitchers on my team also do it, and I don't want to throw them under the bus". That was kind of the same thing going on in the steroid era: every player said it was pervasive, yet every player didn't know anyone who was using - because the people they knew best were their teammates.

It seems hitters are getting more vocal about the need for enforcement. If MLB enforces it consistently, or fails to enforce it at all (which is also "consistently"), I guess I don't care. Either way it's baseball, and therefore fun. But as long as they have the rules and choose not to enforce them people will ##### about it, so if the goal is to get people to stop ######## about it then either ditch the rules or enforce them. As a customer I don't care either way. Otherwise it's a workplace grievance and IMO best left to MLB and MLBPA to decide the proper course of action.
   14. Karl from NY Posted: June 15, 2021 at 03:43 PM (#6024319)
Also more pitches per PA would cause more HBP, since there's simply more chances to do it.

HBP per pitch might be the right metric to look at.
   15. villageidiom Posted: June 15, 2021 at 06:01 PM (#6024332)
Good call, Karl.
   16. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 15, 2021 at 10:33 PM (#6024386)
The number this year is very high but the highest HBP seasons are either pre-1900s or post-2000. Of the top 30 HBP seasons 28 are from those two time periods with 1901 and 1911 the outliers


what on earth is your pt? The goo pitchers are using obviously didnt exist a hundred years ago. SO whatever was happening back then has no relevance to recent history. Obviously in the last 50 or 60 years HBP has gone up? Do we all agree? And the use of goo seems to have increased at the same time as HBP have gone up. So the idea that goo is some sort of safety precaution seems way off.

It has nothing to do with what was happening in 1901 HBP could have been at an all time high, they could have been low, they could have been non existant. That has nothing to do with the substances being used on the ball in modern history.

Hitters have made a decision to get closer to the plate in the last quarter century.


Im gonna out on a limb and say you have no reference for this.

So I don't think hitters are getting hit because pitchers are losing grip.


Thank you that's my pt.
   17. Hank Gillette Posted: June 16, 2021 at 01:49 AM (#6024465)
So I don't think hitters are getting hit because pitchers are losing grip.


No, they are getting hit because pitchers are giving up control for higher spin rate.
   18. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 16, 2021 at 01:26 PM (#6024550)

No, they are getting hit because pitchers are giving up control for higher spin rate


I dont understand this. First off I dont see HBP happening like that. Most of the ones I see are either: Fastball to shoulder/head area; off speed stuff to the hip/waist. Most I guess are deliberate some with less malice than others.

Occasionally you do see one get away from a pitcher, and you can usually tell it was wrong from the get go. These are in the minority I think.

But what I dont really see are crazy curve balls or sliders that have some incredible break and wind up hitting the batter. Like a bugs bunny crazy pitch. That Im not seeing. But you may have different thoughts on that.

Secondly, the running meme was that pitchers were using goo to have better control. Whereas, Bauer and eventually the mainstream have come to understand that goo is adding more break on pitches. THere's a certain disconnect with these two statements e.g Manager says they use goo to have better control, but really its for the break. but you maybe able to square them with one another.
   19. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 16, 2021 at 01:34 PM (#6024552)
the issue is also interesting from a sociological perspective.

Most great movements have no distinct origin.

LIke the cultural revolution Did it begin when Protestant USA allowed gay marriage? Or when Will & Grace was renewed for a second season?


Or Vietnam Experience? The landings in Da Nang? The presidential advisors? GUlf of Tonkin Resolution?

Unlike these things, we have a clear defined date and time for Goo Revolution:

May 27, 2021. Time 805 PM. Place Busch Stadium. Dan Bellino tells Joe West there's something on Gallegos's hat.

And we're OFF!

I find that fascinating.
   20. Hank Gillette Posted: June 18, 2021 at 12:23 PM (#6024959)
I dont understand this. First off I dont see HBP happening like that. Most of the ones I see are either: Fastball to shoulder/head area; off speed stuff to the hip/waist. Most I guess are deliberate some with less malice than others.
The goo increases the spin rate on fastballs as well as the off-speed pitches.
   21. Baldrick Posted: June 18, 2021 at 01:18 PM (#6024963)
LIke the cultural revolution Did it begin when Protestant USA allowed gay marriage? Or when Will & Grace was renewed for a second season?

The Cultural Revolution was explicitly launched by Mao and was part of a de facto coup to regain power after having been marginalized. I don't think it had much to do with Will and Grace.
   22. Captain Joe Bivens, Elderly Northeastern Jew Posted: June 19, 2021 at 05:03 PM (#6025177)
Not sure if all the HBPs are because of control problems. I think if guys were getting hit in the helmet, you might say so, but guys getting hit on the arms or backs or legs, well, those would seem to be on purpose, possibly. If lots of guys were getting beaned, I'd blame lack of control.


edit, or, what SS said.

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