Major League Baseball has been dealing with a lot of scandals in recent years. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox were recently involved in a sign-stealing scandal during their World Series runs. This hurt the reputation of the sport a short while ago, and the teams faced repercussions for their actions.
Now, there is a new problem in the sport. The MLB is cracking down on the use of foreign substances as spin rates have dropped league wide. Some players believe that players should face suspensions or fines, while others believe it is not as bad as the commission thinks it is.
MLB HAS SIGNALED A CRACKDOWN ON THE USE OF SUBSTANCES
The MLB is taking the spin rate drops that are happening league wide very seriously. Two decades ago, the sport dealt with the Steroid Era. It was not just some hitters using foreign substances, some pitchers were using it as well.
Some players claimed it was so that they could prolong their careers as many stars were aging and dealt with injuries. Others wanted to have an unfair advantage. So what is the big deal with spin rates going down this year?
There have been some cases where pitchers were accused of cheating but there wasn’t strong enough evidence to prove that these players were cheating. However, things did seem odd as many pitchers either revived their careers or became dominant.
Obviously, some players improve whether it be a change of pitching coaches, teams, or workout regimen, but here are some examples that caught the attention of the league.
SPIN RATES DROPPING AT AN ALARMING RATE
Gerrit Cole was a good pitcher on the Pittsburgh Pirates and his former teammate Justin Verlander looked like his best years were behind him. When both players were traded to the Houston Astros, there were times where both pitchers were unhittable due to their increase in their individual spin rates. Cole stated that Verlander had taught him how to get more “true rotation and hop” in regards to his fastball.
Now, the league officials have their sites on Trevor Bauer of the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the shortened 2020 season, Bauer’s pitching arsenal was lethal which led him to win the NL Cy Young over Jacob Degrom and Yu Darvish. However, in his recent start against the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers, he struggled mightily.
Last year he had starts where he got double-digit strikeouts while walking no batters. This version of Bauer was much worse by giving up more hits and walks per game. The fastballs averaged a spin rate of 223 revolutions per minute (rpm) against the Braves which is lower than his league-leading average entering the day.
There are many foreign substances that simply range from sunscreen and rosin, bullfrog, pine tar, pelican wax which is popular among pitchers, and something strong like Spider Tack. With a foreign substance, a pitcher can certainly manipulate spin rate. However, why is it such a big deal now when it was easy for even the fans to tell that pitchers have been using these substances for a long time?
There are now more reports that a former Los Angeles Angels clubhouse manager says he provided and sold sticky substances to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, and other pitchers around the league.
Pete Alonso of the New York Mets stated that he doesn’t care what foreign substances pitchers use to grip baseballs. He went even further by saying that Major League Baseball’s bigger concern is its manipulation of the baseball itself year to year, referencing the juiced baseballs in 2019.
“I think that since the start of the game pitchers have been using substances,” Alonso said. “I mean, there’s a bag of rosin behind the mound right now to help guys dry their hands and get grip.
The owners of each franchise are starting to enforce rules on pitchers who use illegal substances. What is your opinion about this situation?