The History of MLB And “Mudding Baseballs” – There has been a huge dilemma going on around the majors for quite some time now. That is the use of foreign substances by pitchers. From pine tar, to rosin and sweat, to now spider tack. Many pitchers are finding new ways to gain a better grip on the baseball, but some have taken it a bit too far. Now as the MLB tries to crackdown on those who are cheating, let’s take a quick look back into the only legal substance that the MLB allows.
Why the dilemma?
That’s the question that has driven the players, fans, and league executives mad. As of recently, we have seen more and more pitchers being accused of using illegal sticky substances. So what has MLB done about it? Absolutely nothing. Pitcher Trevor Bauer has been making complaints to the league about pitchers cheating, and they have done nothing.
Using sticky substances outside of the natural rosin bag that is given, is not allowed per MLB rules. They have tried to catch pitchers in the middle of this season now by having umpires check them between innings. So far nobody has been caught using them but MLB has been receiving a ton of backlash for the way they’ve gone about this.
Pitchers are using sticky substances to get more of a grip on the baseball, they claim that the more control they have the less likely erratic throws will occur. However, this does give them an advantage because the stickiness allows them to increase spin rate, which makes the baseball significantly harder to hit.
We have seen offenses slow down at an unbelievable rate this season. At one point the league wide batting average had reached an all-time low. Many pitchers were absolutely dominating and throwing nasty pitches, which brought up the question about how they are doing so.
But this has been going on for a while in the MLB, because a majority of retired pitchers say that at least 70% of all the pitchers in the MLB use a sticky substance that is not allowed.
Hitters are fine with pitchers using substances to get a grip on the ball, because no one wants to get beamed in the head with a 95 mph fastball. But they are upset at the fact that many of these pitchers are abusing the amount of substances they are using and it is creating that unfair advantage.
What is allowed?
There’s one thing that is allowed on baseballs that the MLB has been adding for years. That is mud. But it’s a very special type of mud that is used across the entire major and minor leagues.
It is officially named and sold as Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud. It is a very specific type of mud that comes from the Delaware River on the shores of New Jersey. Many other companies have tried to replicate this mud, but they have all failed.
The owner of the company that sells the mud says that “the geology of the mud allows it to be used on baseballs, with it’s fine and super-fine abrasive mineral composition.”
MLB has instructed all clubhouse managers to prepare all the baseballs prior to each game by rubbing the mud all over the balls, to remove the glossy finish. This enables the pitchers to get more of a grip on the ball and will prevent injuries by both hitters and pitchers.
The use of foreign substances by pitchers has clearly been abused. It went from being able to get a firmer grip on the ball to creating an unfair advantage and being able to control the game. Moving forward the MLB hopes to eliminate all the substances that are being used and stick with the mud from South Jersey going forward.