MLB is cracking down on cheating pitchers. Kind of.
The league announced today that pitchers who use illegal foreign substances to doctor the baseballs in order to increase the spin rate of pitches are going to get a midseason vacation.
Umpires are authorized to check for the substances now, and if they find anything they are told to eject the pitcher, and the league will hand them a 10-game suspension too.
The league is finally, and I stress the word finally taking this serious because their product is suffering. Strikeouts are at a record high, offense is at a historic low, and everyone with half a brain knew what was going on.
Pitchers were cheating. Brazenly. They didn’t really try to hide the fact they were using glue type substances and stashing it on their body or with their catcher, then using it to get a firmer grip on the baseball, and therefore having more control where the pitch goes and also increasing the amount of times the ball will spin coming out of their hands.
The league-wide batting average in the Big Leagues was .232 through April, which is down from. .252 in 2019, an outrageous difference that made it obvious something was not right.
Word was sneaking out that MLB would be doing something, and pitchers started peeling back on their cheating the last few days. Fastball spin rates averaged 2,306-2,329 revolutions per minute each week through June 5. After the owners had their summer meetings June 3, and word trickled out action was coming, the spin rate dropped to 2,226 two days ago.
Commissioner Rob Manfred put out a statement that essentially said the gig was up for the cheaters.
“Based on the information collected over the first two months of the season — including numerous complaints from position players, pitchers, umpires, coaches and executives — there is a prevalence of foreign substance use by pitchers in Major League Baseball and throughout the minor leagues.
“Many baseballs collected have had dark, amber-colored markings that are sticky to the touch. MLB recently completed extensive testing, including testing by third-party researchers, to determine whether the use of foreign substances has a material impact on performance. That research concluded that foreign substances significantly increase the spin rate and movement of the baseball, providing pitchers who use these substances with an unfair competitive advantage over hitters and pitchers who do not use foreign substances, and results in less action on the field.”