One of the major storylines of the 2021 season for Major League Baseball has been the talk of sticky substances being applied to baseballs by pitchers in search of increased spin. Talk of the league acting has ratcheted up in recent weeks and the league officially responded Tuesday announcing that it had provided guidance to all 30 clubs and to the umpires.
The goal is to provide “a uniform standard for the consistent application of the rules, including regular checks of all pitchers regardless of whether an opposing club’s manager makes a request.”
Under the guidelines, any pitcher that is found to be in violation of the rule will be ejected from the game and will receive an automatic suspension. Per the policy, starting pitchers will have more than one mandatory check and relievers will be checked at the end of the inning when they entered or when they are taken out depending on whichever happens first. The memo notes that the inspections should take place between innings or during pitcher changes in an effort to not delay the game.
The mandate also states that catchers will be subject to routine inspections and that umpires will have the ability to inspect a position player if warranted. Additionally, club personnel who assist players in the use of a foreign substance will also be subject to fines or suspension. The policy also pointedly states that any club employee that encourages a player to use foreign substances “will be subject to severe discipline by the commissioner up to and including placement on the ineligible list.”
As is normally the case in situations like this, we will have to see how stringent the league actually is in enforcing these matters. As the talk of this policy being implemented has made the rounds over the past week, some spin rates have dropped around the league with many drawing drawing the conclusion that pitchers are being proactive in cleaning it up. That is likely what the league is hoping for, but we will have to wait and see how it plays out.
Do you think the league is on the right path in preventing the doctoring of baseballs? Let us know in the comments.