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MLB has warned teams that the league intends to crack down substantially on sticky substance usage for the 2023 season.
After years of turning a relative blind eye to pitchers altering the ball, the league has apparently now made it a priority.
Enforcement changes went into effect during the 2021 season, with umpires checking pitchers hands after innings.
It almost immediately made an impact, as spin rates across the league dropped dramatically.
But MLB has noticed that slowly over the 2022 season, those same spin rates crept back up.
READ: ARE PITCHERS CHEATING AGAIN? AFTER MLB’S CRACKDOWN ON STICKY STUFF, SPIN RATES ARE BACK UP
And so, according to The Athletic, MLB sent out a memo on Thursday informing teams that there will be significant changes to enforcement for 2023.
“Umpires’ inspections of pitchers’ hands and fingers, which began last season, will increase in ‘frequency and scope,’ the memo states. Inspections are expected to be far more thorough than the often-perfunctory checks that umpires performed last year.”
The explanation continues, “Those inspections will now include ‘randomized checks of fingers (including removal of rings worn on either hand of pitchers), hands, hats, gloves, belts/waistlines and pants.’ Pitchers may be subject to checks ‘before or after innings in which they pitch, and managers may make inspection requests of a pitcher or position player either before or after an at-bat.’”
MLB Taking Substances Seriously
It’s a bit odd that MLB’s decided to take such a severe stand on sticky substances this season.
The previous checks could already be relatively awkward and time consuming. But it sounds like they’ll become even more invasive in 2023 than they already were.
The likely explanation is that the league has dedicated their efforts to increasing offense. Especially after a historically weak output in 2022.
They may believe that pitchers using sticky stuff to put spin on the ball may be suppressing offense in an already difficult hitting environment.
Along with eliminating the shift, they might believe this could add excitement back to the game.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way. And pitchers in MLB undoubtedly have the will to find every competitive advantage.
Based on this new enforcement, it’ll be fascinating to see how spin rates are affected during the early part of the season.