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Major League Baseball is now cracking down on foreign substances used by pitchers to increase spin rate. Rather than worry about pitchers like D-Backs Zac Gallon getting hurt because there’s no universal DH in place, commissioner Manfred is focused on pine tar regulations.
MLB’s attempts to crack down on foreign substances are outlined in a memo obtained by ESPN. Among the plans:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 24, 2021
– Increased monitoring by compliance officers
– Inspections of baseballs taken out of play that will use a third-party lab to check for substances
– Spin-rate analysis
Teams are warned that employees are not allowed to handle foreign substances, tell a pitcher how to mask them or interfere with the collection of game-used balls. MLB has said it wants to crack down. This is a broad-sounding effort whose efficacy will be interesting in practice.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 24, 2021
It’s probably best to address “Compliance officers”:
Anytime a workplace hires employees to spy on other workers, it’s a bad idea. It should be common sense that baseball doesn’t have a spin-rate problem, but Manfred seems to have missed that memo. What’s worse is that these new rules won’t actually improve the game. In fact, they’ll probably just make baseball more dangerous than it already is.
Why would we want pitchers to have less control of the ball while they’re hurling fastballs upwards of 100 mph? If anything, giving flame-throwers less understanding of where their pitches go is dangerous for hitters. And when was the last time a real fan of baseball left a ballpark complaining about a pitcher’s slider moving “too much”?
It doesn’t happen. Ever.
Here’s the real reason they’re doing this
Rob Manfred wants to find ways to help hitters put the ball in play by taking away at least part of “why” pitches move as much as they do in today’s game. There are a million reasons for pitcher dominance that have led to the whole “strikeout or home run” era. So taking away control and spin will hardly help.
Velocity is mostly the reason for a lack of contact, and that should be universally recognized across baseball. What’s going to happen is hard-throwing pitchers will now have a tougher time locating. And with increased velocity, all we’ll see are walks and a lot of accidental misfires. A bunch of 100 mile-an-hour arms chucking pitchers over the heads of Mike Trout and Fernando Tatis Jr. because the commissioner wants to see fewer strikeouts.
If it doesn’t worry you that pitchers are zinging by the heads of future Hall of Famers more often–nothing will. Manfred’s move won’t work, and it’s only a matter of time before we look back and laugh at today’s memo.