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The MLB sticky-balls storylines are gaining momentum this week as umpires have begun mid-game crack downs on pitchers suspected of hiding foreign substances.
The rule enforcement quickly became a spectacle in a few games last night as disgruntled pitchers tried to mock umpires by disrobing on the field. Considering opposing managers can request checks pretty much at their convenience, MLB is facing a summer of viral videos if the new rule doesn’t soon include some “gentlemanly” parameters.
Supposedly outlawed, but long-known to be a secret part of the game, sticky substances give pitchers a better grip on brand new, slick balls as they’re circulated into the game. In the MLB, hitters have long believed that the extra grip helped keep them safe, as the better grip would presumably keep errant pitches from flying at their heads. Pitchers also relied on the safety angle to make their own case, claiming that a better grip keeps their elbows healthy during delivery.
But pitching has been dominant this season, thanks to increased spin rates. Gamblers know that unders were hitting at a record pace earlier in the season, until Vegas made adjustments. Six no-hitters have already been thrown in 2021.
So it’s no surprise that hitters finally had enough of the D.C.-style political rhetoric they were getting from the MLB: This old rule, which obviously hurt you in the long run, is actually for your safety. You’re welcome. Luckily for hitters, those days seem to be over now.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant recently voiced what many other hitters are probably thinking.
“We were so stupid as hitters, saying, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s for control. We just don’t want them to hit us,’” Bryant said of pitchers doctoring balls. “That was such a cop out.”
The MLB determined after a two-month study that there was no discernable correlation between player safety and foreign substances. Now pitchers must learn to adjust to a new challenge without an advantage that umpires have long ignored.
Bryant added: “I love that things are going the other way.”