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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) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: foreign substances

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   1. The Duke Posted: May 21, 2021 at 03:05 PM (#6020101)
This was a very good article - when rosenthal sticks to the basics he’s pretty good. It seems like it should be incredibly easy to police this - what are they waiting for. They gave everyone warning - just do it
   2. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: May 21, 2021 at 03:17 PM (#6020105)
It seems like it should be incredibly easy to police this

Is it? It seems like short of doing a pat down on every pitcher it's quite difficult. I guess in theory the response to that is "well then do the ####### pat downs" but I suspect exactly 0% of people associate with MLB from Commissioner to players want that. It goes back to the Michael Pineda thing a few years ago. Unless you are really blatant/stupid about it no one is going to notice. Even the hitters that want to say something probably have their pitchers coming up to them and saying "dude, shut up I'm doing the exact same thing that guy is doing."
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 21, 2021 at 03:33 PM (#6020109)
Is it? It seems like short of doing a pat down on every pitcher it's quite difficult.

Random checks by umps, with harsh penalties. Pitching has become too easy. This is one relatively simple way to start reversing that.

They can also collect all the used balls thrown in a game, and penalize after the fact. Each ball that gets tossed out of play, have a league official with a sharpie mark who was the last P to throw it.
   4. Darren Posted: May 21, 2021 at 03:49 PM (#6020114)
It seems like short of doing a pat down on every pitcher it's quite difficult.

Frank Drebin is ready.
   5. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 21, 2021 at 04:01 PM (#6020117)
"dude, shut up I'm doing the exact same thing that guy is doing."

so all teams are disrespecting the game, and want to continue.
   6. The Duke Posted: May 21, 2021 at 04:10 PM (#6020121)
Well, I think it is easy. Where are they hiding the substance ? If it’s on the pitcher, it’s the glove, opposite arm or hat. We know where Yadier hides his sticky stuff so a quick check of catching equipment should be easy. Finally, each ball should be inspected when taken out and if more than one/two/three balls has compromising stuff on it, toss the pitcher. And finally, put a bucket of legal stick-um behind the mound that everyone can use legally.

Use the approach they use for PEDs. First offense and you are out of that game, second offense is that game plus 5 game suspension, then 10, then 15 and so on. Have a team fine that starts at $1 million and goes up with each event. Fire Angel Hernandez - this should always be something they do if they implement any change.
   7. Dolf Lucky Posted: May 21, 2021 at 04:17 PM (#6020125)
I can deal, largely, with dramatic shifts in the style of play. The run-scoring and other statistical environments have changed significantly over the past 120 years. We're no more special than fans in the 1920s and 1930s.

I can also deal, sort of, with the pace of play. It's far too slow, of course, but as background noise, I'm not sure that I care if a game takes 3'11" instead of 2'32".

I have a really hard time dealing with a league which won't enforce its own rules. If the whole enterprise is seen as an arbitrary endeavor, why should I care?
   8. Buck Coats Posted: May 21, 2021 at 04:43 PM (#6020133)
Royals general manager Dayton Moore said even hitters agree that baseballs require a certain level of tackiness for pitchers to control their pitches.

Everyone always says this, but I've literally never seen one hitter actually say this.

Anyway I think strictly banning this stuff would be the easiest way for baseball to reduce the strikeout rate and would be an excellent idea.
   9. The Duke Posted: May 21, 2021 at 06:41 PM (#6020147)
I think Bryce Harper believes this
   10. Ron J Posted: May 21, 2021 at 06:43 PM (#6020148)
#3 Ever since the Don Sutton lawsuit (which as I understand MLB's lawyer's told them to keep from reaching the court) MLB's had a policy of no discipline unless you can demonstrate how the ball was altered.

They had plenty of balls that they knew Sutton had thrown and were altered (don't recall details) but couldn't show Sutton had anything on him that could have done it and backed down when Sutton sued for being called a cheater.

Don't know. I think they'd have won if it went to court but evidently the lawyers gave them a cost/benefit analysis that worked out to low odds of punitive damages = not worth it.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: May 21, 2021 at 06:49 PM (#6020150)
Surely it's easy for an ump to remove a ball from the game (make it a random thing) and send it off to be tested for the presence of an illegal substance. (If it's not bloody obvious already.) The substance wasn't there when the ball came out of the box, presumably it wasn't there when the ump tossed it to the pitcher, it didn't pick it up travelling through the air. If you can't test balls quickly in-game then hand out suspensions as a result of post-game testing. There's "zero tolerance" on PEDs, zero tolerance on this stuff too (if you want). You don't need to find where the pitcher or catcher or whoever is hiding the stuff -- there's illegal stuff on the ball, the pitcher and manager are tossed and suspended, end of story. If you want to pat down the C to see if he's in on it too, feel free.

Already mentioned but that the Yadi moment a few years ago resulted in nothing but chuckles made it pretty clear the league doesn't care about this.

If balls need a certain level of tackiness to be safe then (a) whatever needs doing should be done before the game with the umps watching or (b) put it into the manufacturing process.

How many games did Sosa get for superballs?

(Note sandpaper was a different thing, you could maybe claim the ball picked up the scuff from the ground so the ump had to "prove" the pitcher did it. But any ball that touches the ground seems to get tossed these days anyway so the presence of an "obvious" scratch on an unhit ball is also enough to toss everybody.)
   12. Ron J Posted: May 21, 2021 at 07:06 PM (#6020153)
#11 Plausible if Sutton was being accused of scuffing the ball. I don't think he was.

But as I said I thought it likely MLB would win if it went to trial. And frankly I'm none too impressed with the legal advice they were getting back then.
   13. depletion Posted: May 22, 2021 at 07:51 AM (#6020213)
I recommend klister. It’s a cross country ski wax designed to stick to wet snow.
   14. McCoy Posted: May 22, 2021 at 08:51 AM (#6020219)
They chuckled at Molina because it isn't against the rules for a position player to have a foreign substance on them.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: May 22, 2021 at 06:32 PM (#6020302)
Sure but we all know why it was there and that the rule should have been put in place immediately.

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