Major League Baseball is expected to announce on Tuesday that it will suspend players caught with a foreign substance for 10 days with pay to help reduce the widespread use of grip enhancers by league pitchers, sources close to ESPN have told ESPN. plans.
The league is expected to hand out a note to teams – who have been briefed on the outline of the policy change – which outlines their plans to penalize any players caught by referees with any foreign substance on their person, widely used sunscreen – and -colophane to Spider Tack, an industrial glue that has become a favorite among pitchers who want to generate more spin on the ball.
Liberal interpretation of Rules 3.01 and 6.02 (c), which prohibit the use of foreign substances, would discipline all substances equally. While there is a “broad consensus among gamers that Spider Tack is over the limit,” a high-ranking player on the players’ side told ESPN on Monday, the total ban on all Gripper Agents could irritate the players. A longtime referee told ESPN the hard line is vital as he and his brothers attempt to apply a rule on the fly that has been ignored for years.
Regardless of the players’ reliance on the sticky stuff, and regardless of the responsibility of teams and the league for allowing another cheating scandal to creep its way into baseball, the efforts to clear the set of grip enhancers have arrived and will begin in earnest in June. 21, according to sources.
Until then, players will continue to try to unlearn years of using various substances. Some teams have had pitchers who relied heavily on foreign substances in the past to run bullpen sessions without any grip enhancers to prepare for the future, two players and an official told ESPN. Teams recently received reports from their team’s pitching league being caught using substances, two general managers told ESPN.
This kind of preparation portends a change that has already taken hold. Several pitchers who requested anonymity to avoid league sanction told ESPN they had either stopped using foreign substances altogether or had gone from Spider Tack to pine tar – a relatively new and controversial product. to a product whose place in baseball goes back decades.
Between the impending memo and the baseball climate that seems increasingly colder to foreign substances since referee Joe West forced St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos to remove his hat on May 26 due to a problem, the sticky stuff problem – and how to solve the consequences it causes – remains at the forefront of the game. From debates over morality to discussions about a league that has not issued a foreign substance suspension for over six years Suddenly poised to impose several on the recognition that a starting pitcher could essentially only lose one start in 10 games, conversations about the league plan became fiery.
Several players have said they hope MLB will differentiate substances and buy time before the potential issue of a legal and universal substance that pitchers could use for grip. While MLB has explored creating such a product, they have yet to formulate one that serves as a grip enhancer while not improving performance. Between the grip issue and the league’s change in ball makeup this winter, the players said they hoped to have more information in the future.
Asked to comment on the pending memo, the MLB Players Association said in a statement, “The Players Association is aware that Major League Baseball plans to issue guidance shortly regarding the enforcement of existing rules governing foreign substances. We will communicate with players accordingly once this guidance has been issued. We anticipate future discussions with the League regarding issues on the ground, including the rules on foreign substances and the baseballs themselves, as part of ongoing collective bargaining. We will continue to focus on fundamental fairness and player health and safety. “
Through a spokesperson, the MLB declined to comment.
While the sample is small, the league-wide batting average since June 3 – when the first reports of the league’s crackdown surfaced – is 0.247, a substantial jump from 0.236 at this point. of the season. The league-wide spin rate on fastballs is also down substantially, a sign that some pitchers have already completely stopped using foreign substances – or at least changed grip agents.
The use of foreign substances in baseball dates back over a century, although the sticky stuff scandal is particularly modern. Knowing that the four-seam fastballs that spin more fall less, the high-revving fastballs high up in the strike zone have become a staple throughout the game. Meanwhile, the massive RPMs generated on the balls broken made them have a movement never seen before.
Baseball, which began studying foreign substance use early in the season, determined two months into the season that it had ample evidence and reason to penalize foreign substance use this season. Responsibility for this will begin with the referees, who should check the players between the innings for substances on the uniforms as well as their hands.
Over the next week, players, teams, umpires, and the league will be able to go through the details and prepare for the next iteration of baseball: one without alien substance and with questions about realism.