Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that starting with next week’s game the league will crackdown on pitcher’s use of foreign substances.
The new rule states that umpires will check the starting pitcher twice a game. In addition, relievers will be check once per game. However, the rule does not only limit pitchers from being subject to checks by umpires. In addition, catchers and position players will be subject to be checks if there is a suspicion of a foreign substance. If an umpire finds a player using a foreign substance, the player will be ejected and suspended with pay for 10 days.
In the announcement of the crackdown MLB Comissioner Rob Manfred released the following statement,
“After an extensive process of repeated warnings without effect, gathering information from current and former players and others across the sport, two months of comprehensive data collection, listening to our fans and thoughtful deliberation, I have determined that new enforcement of foreign substances is needed to level the playing field, I understand there’s a history of foreign substances being used on the ball, but what we are seeing today is objectively far different, with much tackier substances being used more frequently than ever before. It has become clear that the use of foreign substance has generally morphed from trying to get a better grip on the ball into something else — an unfair competitive advantage that is creating a lack of action and an uneven playing field.”
MLB Commissoner Rob D. Manfred Jr.
The crackdown comes as Bob Nightengale reports that so far this month, the offensive numbers are at an all-time high. However, in the opening months of the season, the narrative was different with strikeouts at an all-time high.
Within a three-month time span, the concern has drastically changed from little offense to the recent uptick. However, when the strikeouts were at an all-time high, Major League Baseball made no rule change to benefit hitters. So far in the 2021 season, there has been one instance of a pitcher using a foreign substance. The only occurrence this season occurred when Giovanny Gallegos was ejected for having a substance on his hat. This issue occurred when the Cardinals played the White Sox during the May 27 game.
As of now, the statement is a general overview of the rule. However, as of now, the statement is quite clear on how the rule works. It will be interesting starting next week when the rule begins; the question is how often it will actually happen. Also, it will be interesting to see how lenient the umpires are in actually enforcing the rule. Major league baseball sent out a memo before the year alerting teams about a crackdown on foreign substances and the initial attempt not working. If the MLB does not get what they want, what will be the next big change. The second question along that line is how long it would be before the league makes the change. Finally, it will be interesting to see how teams respond to a major change concerning pitchers with a midseason change.
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