Major League Baseball’s crackdown on foreign substances will ramp up on June 21, per an ESPN report. Though using foreign substances has long been illegal, for years pitchers have been allowed to use grip enhancers. The problem is, as the years and technology have progressed, we’ve learned that some of these grip enhancers are actually performance enhancers. The latest invention on this front is Spider Tack, a kind of industrial glue that sends spin rates skyrocketing.
The report indicates, however, that all substances will be punished the same. Pitchers caught using foreign substances, whether Spider Tack, pine tar or a sunscreen mixture, will receive a 10-game suspension. Said suspension is with pay, but 10 games for a reliever is a big loss. Starters might be able to only miss one start with creative maneuvering, though.
Some might feel that completely banning all substances outright is an overcorrection from the league, but the ESPN report indicates the umpires believe in trying to enforce the rule, the best way is to not make them try and figure out on the spot exactly what the substance is and that’s fair.
In light of the increased attention on the so-called “sticky stuff” this month, offense has ticked up while spin rates have ticked down. It’s a small sample and we have no way of figuring out if the changes are related to weather, health or other outside variables.
Regardless, MLB is going full steam ahead here without collectively bargaining the issue with players. We’ve recently heard that starters will be checked at least twice while relievers will be checked at least once and any substances found are cause for immediate ejection. Now we learn that a 10-game suspension will be attached as well.
These are pretty big deterrents and show the league is serious about rooting this out.