Sunday Shenanigans 13: Baseball’s Weirdest New Policy

Sunday Shenanigans 13: Baseball’s Weirdest New Policy

by June 27, 2021 1 comment

The foreign substance problem in baseball has risen over the past few seasons, reaching a breaking point this season. The domination of pitchers, rise in spin rates, and new revelations (revolutions?) about spider tack forced the decision into Major League Baseball’s hands. As they so often have in the Rob Manfred era, they managed to make players angry.

If you had not heard, the use of foreign substances will be cracked down on by the league. The incredibly sticky spider tack, made for strongmen gripping atlas stones, has become a common practice for Major League pitchers. So has the combination of sunscreen and rosin, which many more will admit to. Among those is Tyler Glasnow, who claims that having to give up the sticky stuff caused his recent UCL injury.

This plan to enforce the rules made many mad, but the reaction to the news pales in comparison to what the plan is to catch pitchers in the act. After the end of an inning or a pitching change, the umpires can stop a pitcher on his way back to the dugout to search him. This has led to awkward moments when pitchers get shelled in an inning or blow the game and have to be searched for sticky stuff at the worst possible time.

The Reactions

Of course, veteran pitchers will absolutely hate this and we’ve already seen them react rather uncivilized. The best-case came in a game between the Phillies and Nationals, where Philadelphia Manager Joe Girardi asked the umpires to check on Washington pitcher Max Scherzer during a mound visit. As the umpires walked towards Scherzer, the pitcher became heated. He threw down his hat and glove, while also taking his belt off.

This even caused Girardi to be ejected after Scherzer stared him down and Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long, a former associate of Girardi, challenged him.

Somehow, Scherzer didn’t even have the craziest reaction to being checked in the first two days of inspections. That came from another veteran, A’s reliever Sergio Romo. Romo was routinely checked on his way to the dugout, also throwing down his hat, glove, and belt. Where Romo differs from Scherzer is that he literally pulled his pants down! How did we get from discussions about a substance used in another competition to pants going down on the field?

…And What to Look Forward to

If there are any positives to come out of this situation, it may have caused the return of the knuckleball. A pitch that wants a spin rate of zero rather than 2700 had become extinct in the Major Leagues. However, the Orioles fixed that just days after the rule change. We won’t know if this was an effect of the decline in pitchers around the league, but Baltimore promoted a 33-year-old right-hander named Mickey Jannis to pitch against the Astros. To be fair, things did not go well, as Jannis allowed seven runs and walked four while only recording one strikeout in 3.1 innings as the Orioles lost 13-0. He was then designated for assignment after the game. Of course, he got substance checked, too.

This policy is obviously ridiculous and should cause more chaos over the next few months, even though pitchers have calmed down over the past couple of days. As tensions brew between the players and the league once again, we just have to wait and see what comes of this sudden rule change.

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