Tyler Glasnow isn’t wrong that Major League Baseball has done a poor job in executing its crackdown on sticky stuff.
Blaming pitchers’ use of foreign substances for all that ails the sport and using it as a distraction from more important issues like sexual harassment, labor exploitation, and publicly shaking down cities for stadium deals… that’s gross enough. That they’re also changing enforcement of the rules in the middle of the season, on short notice, is ludicrous.
So, it’s fair that Glasnow is blaming MLB for his elbow ligament injury, admitting that he says, “in my mind, that sounds dumb. That sounds like an excuse a player would use to make sure he could use sticky stuff. I threw to the Nationals … I did well. I woke up the next day and was sore in places I didn’t even know I had.”
Glasnow stopped using sunscreen, knowing that the crackdown was coming, started “choking the shit out of all my pitches,” and now is on the injured list with ligament damage.
But it’s hard to be too sympathetic, isn’t it? Glasnow admitted that he got hurt when he stopped cheating. It’s like someone speeding through a school zone, getting into a fender bender, and blaming the flash of the city’s new speeding camera for the fact that they got distracted.
Meanwhile, Trevor Bauer is on Twitter showing how a perfectly legal mix of “sweat and rosin” can make a ball stick to a hand and defy gravity, which…OK, sure, then this shouldn’t be such a big deal and Bauer’s recent drop in spin rate is merely coincidental.
Bauer, too, is upset about the crackdown coming in the middle of the season, and he’s correct that MLB should “save it with the competitive integrity bullshit. … All you care about is the bottom line of the business, and public perception negatively affecting it.”
It’s sloppy, for sure, and MLB just as easily could have encouraged pitchers to start weaning off Spider Tack and the like rather than this abrupt shift that’s now possibly resulted in one of the best pitchers in the game possibly heading for Tommy John surgery. They could have said, hey, we’ll start enforcing this after the All-Star break, so figure out by then how to mix enough sweat and rosin together, or whatever else they might need to do.
Rule 3.01 is not new. It’s been on the books for long enough that it specifically bans players from using licorice to discolor the ball, among other doctoring techniques. There are more specific rules regarding pitchers, Rules 6.02(c)(2) through (6).
Logically, though, Rule 5.07(c) should also be subject to immediate enforcement and a crackdown. That’s the one that reads, “When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call ‘Ball.’”
There don’t even need to be pitch clocks, as are currently being used in Low-A West on an experimental basis — although you can expect to see those in the majors in the next couple of years. Umpires can simply count a dozen Mississippis and enforce another rule that’s been on the books for years.
Rule 6.02(a)(8) has even more leeway for umpires to act, as a balk can be called any time a “pitcher unnecessarily delays the game,” provided that there is a warning first. Maybe, during the “weaning off” period, instead of searching pitchers for substances, umpires could be instructed to warn pitchers and call balks for unnecessary delays caused by pitchers reaching up to get a glob of something off the brim of their hat.
It’s silly not to want baseball to be played by the rules, and while there’s long been a culture of bending, if not outright breaking the rules, that doesn’t make it wrong when MLB decides enough is enough, even if the handling of it is ham-fisted. If only MLB would be so decisive in addressing its myriad other issues.