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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) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: foreign substances

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   1. Baldrick Posted: June 03, 2021 at 05:09 PM (#6022388)
Those sound like really aggressive measures that will definitely work. Can't see any possible loopholes here.
   2. sanny manguillen Posted: June 03, 2021 at 05:14 PM (#6022391)
Recurring question: has anyone ever done video enhancement of Gaylord's games and found where he was stashing all his goo?
   3. Itchy Row Posted: June 03, 2021 at 06:17 PM (#6022397)
Fourth prong: a secret. Secret prong. Not gonna reveal it now– wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture.
   4. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: June 03, 2021 at 06:20 PM (#6022398)
Guys, maybe it's not a good idea to refer to things that are clearly not epidemics as "epidemics" while there's a real epidemic going on? Just sayin'.
   5. Ron J Posted: June 03, 2021 at 06:38 PM (#6022406)
#4 What they're saying is that the cheating is being transmitted from player to player.

Maybe masks would help?

And how long before we have a vaccine?
   6. The Duke Posted: June 03, 2021 at 07:07 PM (#6022412)
The “encourage teams to police their own behavior” is the Luhnow rule. Basically, after some grace period (2021), if there are egregious issues found then the GM/manager will be dealt with like Luhnow/Hinch.

People say this is toothless but I suspect it will cause changes very quickly. If front office people and managers are at risk, they will drive it out of sight and basically make players hide it from everyone like Perry used to do. No more walking by someone in the clubhouse applying green goo to his glove.

So from now until the end of 2021, the umpires are being given instructions to force players to replace equipment. After that, fines/suspensions, after that the GM/manager are at risk.

   7. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: June 03, 2021 at 07:08 PM (#6022413)
 2. Rennie's Tenet Posted: June 03, 2021 at 05:14 PM (#6022391)
Recurring question: has anyone ever done video enhancement of Gaylord's games and found where he was stashing all his goo?
   3. Itchy Row Posted: June 03, 2021 at 06:17 PM (#6022397)
Fourth prong: a secret. Secret prong.

Waaaaaaaaaaaay TMI.
   8. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 03, 2021 at 09:59 PM (#6022434)
am I to understand that up to now, umpires are not empowered to check, especially caps, gloves and uniforms, if there are clear signs of illegal substances?

   9. John Northey Posted: June 03, 2021 at 10:30 PM (#6022440)
Boy would've Billy Martin had fun with this rule. Imagine him watching for a key moment and then sending the umps to check a pitcher just because he knows it could mess with the guys mind or screw up his routine. Part of what I loved/hated about Martin - he found every loophole to gain an advantage. Thus the infamous Pine Tar game.
   10. bfan Posted: June 04, 2021 at 08:07 AM (#6022486)
Recurring question: has anyone ever done video enhancement of Gaylord's games and found where he was stashing all his goo?

Gaylord may have passed on (I do not know), but this is close to the answer. Find some retired pitchers with reputations for gooing up, and hire them as consultants on where to look at what to look for.
   11. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: June 04, 2021 at 08:41 AM (#6022487)
Gaylord is still with us, but it's too late for Joe Niekro or Don Sutton to be of any assistance.
   12. Nasty Nate Posted: June 04, 2021 at 09:15 AM (#6022491)
I feel like Gaylord has already described all his hiding places, but I'm not certain.
   13. DL from MN Posted: June 04, 2021 at 09:30 AM (#6022493)
hire them as consultants on where to look at what to look for

Every ####### pitching coach in major (and minor) league baseball knows what to look for. Do you think the pitchers are figuring this stuff out all on their own?

Nobody is sending the umpire out after the cheaters on the other team because they'd have to stop cheating. It's mutually assured destruction.
   14. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 04, 2021 at 10:24 AM (#6022502)
Well, at least for now they squashed the alternate proposal of punishing cheaters by placing opposing team runners on second and third.
   15. DL from MN Posted: June 04, 2021 at 10:44 AM (#6022509)
Regarding Gaylord Perry, from an interview I watched I recall the answer to that question was pretty much everywhere, but not in the same place every time.
   16. Bhaakon Posted: June 06, 2021 at 04:43 PM (#6022871)
Step 1: Build it up a as a major issue.

Step 2: Needle the Player's Association with it to get some trivial advantage in negotiations.

Step 3: Forget about it.
   17. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 06, 2021 at 06:10 PM (#6022890)

MLB's enhanced plans for enforcement of foreign-substance rules being finalized, with June rollout pending, sources say

Following the owners' meetings this week -- during which some of the collected evidence was presented, including baseballs, hats and gloves slathered with various substances -- a conference call was held among officials Friday. According to two sources, the plans for enforcement of the existing foreign-substance rules are being finalized, and a memo could be sent to teams as soon as the week ahead, with full-blown action beginning in earnest in games as soon as June 14.

Among the final possibilities being discussed:

Pitchers will be checked randomly by umpires, with every starting pitcher likely to be checked at least two times per start. With officials cognizant of having equipment checks slow a sport in which the pace of play is already thought to be too deliberate, pitchers might be checked as they walk off the field at the conclusion of an outing. One management source estimated that there will be eight to 10 random foreign-substance checks per game.

The discussion about penalties has been centered on suspending offenders 10 days without pay. Upon hearing this in a meeting the other day, one owner noted that the MLB Players Association might file a grievance, and the broad response around him was that the issue was too important to allow someone to get away with a light penalty. "The issue is too important for us now," said one executive.

Position players will be subject to foreign-substance checks, although the conversations are around issuing warnings initially to non-pitchers, with umpires warning catchers and others to clean up an area of concern.

The contentiousness over the use of foreign substances has boiled over to the degree that a lot of the evidence being presented to central baseball oversight has been video provided by position players angry over what they see as blatant violations of the rule. "You've got players turning in other players," said one official.
   18. Buck Coats Posted: June 07, 2021 at 12:59 PM (#6022971)
I don't get the debate about penalties - haven't pitchers been suspended for doctoring the ball for decades? Have those rules changed?
   19. Ron J Posted: June 07, 2021 at 01:25 PM (#6022975)
#18 Only with clear evidence as to the mechanism.

That was the upshot of Don Sutton's lawsuit (that never reached trial). MLB felt it necessary to demonstrate how the ball was being altered.

There were tons of balls turned into the league in Mike Scott starts but since they could never demonstrate how the balls were being altered the league never took any action.

Now it's pretty much everybody and a quick check of the pitcher would probably turn up what is being found on the balls.
   20. Traderdave Posted: June 07, 2021 at 01:39 PM (#6022980)
My favorite detail of the Pine Tar Game was that Gaylord Perry was the one who grabbed the bat and ran into the clubhouse in an attempt to hide the evidence.
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: June 07, 2021 at 01:47 PM (#6022982)
to clarify, Perry was still pitching - on his last legs - with the Royals at the time
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: June 07, 2021 at 02:17 PM (#6022989)
Recurring question: has anyone ever done video enhancement of Gaylord's games and found where he was stashing all his goo?

I've always believed he was primarily stashing it inside the heads of his opponents.
   23. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 07, 2021 at 05:45 PM (#6023036)
Yeah, it doesn't take much to do that.

   24. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 07, 2021 at 09:16 PM (#6023084)
Marlins relief pitcher John Curtiss had a noticeably discolored white area on the back of his cap when he came into today’s game against the Red Sox, and he repeatedly patted the back of his head before pitching. If it was visible on TV, one would think the umpires would also have noticed the discoloration, but I didn’t see any inspection, or hear any mention of such activity. Perhaps Curtiss was just concerned about pace-of-play, and developed the rosin cap to save the extra 4 or 5 seconds it might take to use a traditional rosin bag, but if MLB is serious about preventing pitchers from using foreign substances, a quick check would have been in order.
   25. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 08, 2021 at 07:16 AM (#6023141)
Did you see where the stat posted info that the average rpm of the four main pitches is at record high? Some issue that its a different stat service than last year but still. LAD pitchers lead the way
   26. Howie Menckel Posted: June 08, 2021 at 09:59 AM (#6023161)

06.08... Adbert Alzolay had to exit Monday's start versus the Padres early because of a blister on his right middle finger.
Spin: The blister offers an explanation as to why Alzolay looked so off in this one after coming into the start pitching so well. He allowed four runs and issued five walks, which is the same number of free passes he had handed out over his previous six outings combined. It's too early to know whether Alzolay's next scheduled start might be affected, but it's something to keep tabs on.
   27. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 08, 2021 at 03:50 PM (#6023212)
here's the stat I mentioned. It was a graphic on Espn:
   28. Don Malcolm Posted: June 08, 2021 at 06:37 PM (#6023238)
Buster Olney at ESPN is pushing hard at the "goo"-steroids parallelism:

What is occurring now with foreign substances has so many parallels with another cheating scandal in the sport's history: performance-enhancing drugs.

As Major League Baseball transitioned out of what was known as the steroid era, the greatest change within the sport was not the implementation of testing for performance-enhancing drugs. Rather, it was a devotion to a level playing field among players -- like young players within the White Sox who staged a minirevolt in the spring of 2003, in order to help ensure that PED oversight would become a permanent part of the sport.

But that occurred only after shifting stages of perspective--for which there are parallels in baseball's current foreign-substance crisis.

A lot of players who didn't use steroids in the late '80s and early '90s initially had a benign curiosity about the erupting musculature and production of some of their peers. All-Star outfielder Tony Gwynn told a story about going into the spring training workout room of the Athletics--the team of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire--and seeing the charts tracking the individual weightlifting, and being blown away.

Some players like Gwynn clung to a stubborn competitiveness, the belief that no matter the choices of users, he could find a way to prevail. But those feelings--perhaps naïve--began to generally fade, when a lot of non-users began realizing what they lost in a zero-sum game: A lot of success of the users came at the direct expense of non-users, in opportunity and the attached money. An Orioles player told me the story of seeing a mediocre organizational peer zooming past him, getting at-bats in the big leagues, which probably would've gone to somebody else in a baseball world without steroids. The Orioles player, like a lot of his brethren, resented the choice forced upon him: either break the rules to keep up, or fall behind in his profession of choice.

By 2002, the anger of the non-users began to fully manifest, into the union's adoption of PED oversight.

The current players seem to be going through a similar cycle now, as they process the impact of foreign substances.

Curious to see how you folks parse these remarks. Note that Olney mentions weight-lifting only in his Gwynn-A's snippet, working on the presumption that weightlifting and steroids were linked activities from the get-go (my recollection is that this claim is still mostly based on the somewhat dubious testimony of Jose Canseco).

It would be useful if someone who's tried to dig through the hyperbole on the steroids issue could suggest even a ballpark figure for usage beginning at its ostensible dawning (Bash Brothers) up through, say, 2005...also taking into account the efforts to mask the detection of such substances after the ban was imposed.

Likewise, something similar for "goo-gate" would be appreciated, though whatever (most) pitchers may have been using in 2019 doesn't seem to have been particularly effective...

Interesting info about Alzolay, but not quite dispositive since he was both wild and unhittable in '20...he's improved his control in '21 but is also serving up an elevated HR rate (1.7 per 9 as opposed to NL average of 1.2 for starters) while having issues with 3-ball counts (difficult to capture in game context given the limitations of the readily available stat breakouts). The biggest question about pitchers with conflicting performance aspects over the past ~5 years is whether the "movement" they're trying to achieve with "augmented" spin rates is unpredictable enough to unwittingly create a higher quantity of mashable pitches than would be the case if they focused more on pinpointing location.

   29. Howie Menckel Posted: June 08, 2021 at 08:04 PM (#6023251)

Gerrit Cole on if he ever used Spider Tack while pitching: "I don't quite know how to answer that, to be honest...If MLB wants to legislate some more stuff, that's a conversation that we can have"


the all-too rare non-denial non-denial !
   30. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 08, 2021 at 08:48 PM (#6023256)
DOes this make Trevor Bauer the Jose Canseco of Goo Gate?
   31. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 08, 2021 at 08:50 PM (#6023257)
THe difference between this and steroids seems to be that Goo balls are acknowledged by the powers that be on some basis or another. Either that everyone is doing it and its OK, or that batters are OK with it or something. Steroids werent openly acknowledged by anyone in the game really.
   32. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: June 09, 2021 at 12:06 AM (#6023313)
"I don't quite know how to answer that, to be honest

Not even the best part:

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.

Hmm, wondering which Astro passed this on to Cole...
   33. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 14, 2021 at 09:38 AM (#6024089)
The slash line for all MLB hitters
April 1-June 4: .236/.312/.395

On June 5, details emerged about how umpires will conduct foreign substance checks, and how MLB has compiled foreign substance scouting reports on some pitchers.
MLB hitters June 5-June 13: .247/.319/.417
   34. TomH Posted: June 14, 2021 at 11:15 AM (#6024109)
yes, the AL composite batting avg is up to .241. NL stuck at .235. Not sure what might drive sudden divergence.
   35. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 14, 2021 at 04:58 PM (#6024155)
Don't those numbers always go up as it gets warmer?
   36. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: June 14, 2021 at 05:03 PM (#6024159)
Don't those numbers always go up as it gets warmer?


Also .247/.319/.417 ain't exactly 1930 or 1999 type numbers.
   37. SoSH U at work Posted: June 14, 2021 at 09:41 PM (#6024206)

yes, the AL composite batting avg is up to .241. NL stuck at .235. Not sure what might drive sudden divergence.

DHs remembering they're employed to outhit pitchers?
   38. Jesus Luzardo Maraschino Posted: June 15, 2021 at 02:02 PM (#6024290)
They should tar and feather all these cheaters.
   39. Kiko Sakata Posted: June 15, 2021 at 02:49 PM (#6024304)
They should tar and feather all these cheaters.

I think their goal is more to un-tar the pitchers.

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