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Friday, August 27, 2021

MLB seeking player input on baseball prototypes that could be long-term sticky stuff fix

Major League Baseball has begun disseminating prototypes of pre-tacked baseballs to solicit player feedback, Yahoo Sports has learned. This represents an early step in potentially developing a new baseball to address concerns from pitchers about grip and consistency.

Rich Hill confirmed that the New York Mets reviewed the prototypes about a week-and-a-half ago. Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers were also shown the balls while playing in New York, and the San Francisco Giants are expected to receive them during their series against the Mets this week as well.

“I think they’re getting there,” Hill said. “They’re working on it, and I know they’re going to come, hopefully, to a good resolution.”

Although the current process is still in the preliminary stages, pre-tacked baseballs — or, balls treated with a substance that gives them a slightly tacky feel for easier grip — have been a source of speculation and investigation for several years now. MLB has been experimenting with sticky baseballs that could be introduced in conjunction with enforcement of its foreign substance ban since at least 2016, when they were game-tested in the Arizona Fall League. The league circulated something similar among major leaguers in spring training 2019. Neither pitchers nor hitters were fans at the time — although that could be reflective of an environment in which pitchers’ use of their own technically illicit sticky substances still went unchecked.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 27, 2021 at 09:23 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: foreign substances

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   1. Darren Posted: August 27, 2021 at 09:54 AM (#6036672)
Wasn't the point of banning the sticky stuff to prevent pitchers from having an unfair advantage? Or was it some other reason?
   2. Russ Posted: August 27, 2021 at 10:20 AM (#6036680)
Wasn't the point of banning the sticky stuff to prevent pitchers from having an unfair advantage?


The point of banning the sticky stuff is that they realized that they couldn't justify allow some foreign substances on the ball but not others. This way it prevents players who need the grip from having to choose between breaking the rules vs. not having the grip they need. The substances aren't the issue, it's making sure that players aren't forced into deciding whether to break the rules or not. If they could design the rules to allow some substances but not others, I think they would just do that, but obviously they haven't been able to accomplish that.
   3. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 27, 2021 at 11:15 AM (#6036690)
This way it prevents players who need the grip from having to choose between breaking the rules vs. not having the grip they need.


I don't understand this. If you "need the grip" to pitch at the major league level, that means you can't pitch at the major league level without cheating. Why do we need to accommodate these people? It's like allowing some players to use aluminum bats because they "need the power."
   4. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: August 27, 2021 at 12:03 PM (#6036695)
We have to do everything we can to keep as many strikeouts in the game as possible. Chicks dig strikeouts!
   5. Jay Seaver Posted: August 27, 2021 at 12:20 PM (#6036700)
If you "need the grip" to pitch at the major league level, that means you can't pitch at the major league level without cheating. Why do we need to accommodate these people?


That's about 75% of my thinking, but I also figure MLB has to to work with the situation it has now, which is that pretty much everybody in the league has been using rosin & sunscreen at the very least for some time. The goal is a level playing field, and if a somewhat tackier ball achieves that without skewing the game better than heightened enforcement, then it's at least the most practical solution.
   6. Russ Posted: August 27, 2021 at 12:36 PM (#6036706)
which is that pretty much everybody in the league has been using rosin & sunscreen at the very least for some time.


I agree. Also, you do get into a situation where if it is very humid or a light rain, then pitchers could lose control of the ball and there could be more HBP and injuries. It is very hard to take the substances out of the game, but also hard to leave them in the game. Let's be clear, MLB gets an awful lot of the easy stuff wrong, but this is not an easy problem to solve and pre-tacked balls is not an unreasonable solution.
   7. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 27, 2021 at 01:25 PM (#6036718)
... if it is very humid or a light rain, then pitchers could lose control of the ball and there could be more HBP and injuries.


I am very skeptical of this argument. WHy do people keep repeating this?

With the exception of 2007-2012 HBP has been increasingly continuously since 1985. It seems clear that gripping substances have been increasingly used during this period.

ANd Im guessing that sunscreen and rosin wasnt the reason keeping HBP at their lowest in the 1975-85 period. Even the rest of baseball history since 1900 those HBP numbers are lower than today.

Do you have any sort of response to this?

   8. Rally Posted: August 27, 2021 at 02:17 PM (#6036734)
When I played I actually liked getting hit by pitch. Never broke a bone or anything. The pain from getting hit was minor compared to the joy of getting on base.

I remember facing a tough pitcher once, I was just overmatched. Don’t remember if I swung at or just took the first two pitches, but in any case I had no chance. Down 0-2. I was expecting my AB to end on the next pitch. The pitcher must have been thinking along the lines of “I’ve got him 0-2, now back him off the plate and then finish him on the outside corner.” But the 0-2 pitch was too far inside, grazed my forearm. As I walked to first it was hard to keep from laughing at the guy. He was in total control but just overcomplicated things.

I think we’ve got too many batters these days who share my views of the HBP.
   9. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 27, 2021 at 03:57 PM (#6036761)
I had a similar experience in Pony league. The guy was like the only guy in the league who could throw a real curve ball. His MO was to get two quick strikes and then unleash the curve. Im down two strikes and really determined not to strike out again like I had my first season. He throws the curve; Im really digging in and it conks me in the head. My friend was playing third and was cracking up cause he sort of knew thats what happened.
   10. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: August 27, 2021 at 04:34 PM (#6036772)
I don't know if this is borne out but players in recent years seem a lot more willing to get plunked. Hitters when I was younger seemed to genuinely try not to get hit (with some exceptions) but it seems like most players today are perfectly willing to get hit. They are protected (arm pads, helmets are better) and just physically bigger and stronger so they can absorb the plunking better. Again this is all anecdotal but it seems that when guys get hit today they just go to first base rather than being hurt at all.

Also hitters seem to be much more on top of the plate than ever before. Anecdote/sample size/etc... but look where Reggie is standing here and Harper here. It's not just the starting position but the diving over the plate that wasn't as much of a thing when I was a wee lad many many decades ago. The real interesting thing* is to note where each guys hands are on contact. Jackson's are way off the plate, Harper's are right over the inside edge of the batter's box.

Note these aren't meant to be proof, just examples of something I've noticed. I may well be wrong.

* the REAL interesting thing is that the Reggie video gives us a chance to watch Hrabosky do his thing. Holy hell Screamin' A. Smith would lose his mind.
   11. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 27, 2021 at 06:40 PM (#6036803)
I think that's a good pt. Not the Reggie thing necessarily, but the use of body armor. I know Bonds was famous for that, so that would have been when the early 90s? Seems to have some positive correlation with the increase in HBP.
   12. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 28, 2021 at 11:00 AM (#6036857)
I played competitive baseball every year from the age of 10 through my freshman year in college, and the only time I recall getting hit was in high school, when a friend of mine used to help me improve my reflexes by pitching to me from a Little League mound. He was a beefy dude who easily threw 80, and the one time I couldn't get out of the way I had a welt on my forearm that stayed there for a couple of weeks. I don't think I ever would've enjoyed getting hit in a game.

In all those hundreds of games, I also never fouled a pitch off my foot, which was lucky since nobody wore foot guards back then. But when I was in my late 40's I chanced upon a batting range when my future wife and I were at Rehoboth Beach, and within the first 15 minutes I learned there was a first time for everything. I was hobbling around for a solid week, and it turned out to be the last pitch I ever swung at.

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