It’s okay, Max. We are all crazy here.
MLB’s worst-kept secret is that pitchers have been using sticky tricks to master baseballs for almost as long as baseballs have been pitched, and hitters have generally been okay with that. It wasn’t until Rob Manfred and the rest of the think tank in the MLB offices decided the offense was down (it’s partly their own doing, after all) that it happened. turned out to be a real problem.
So when Max Scherzer took aim at the MLB commissioner and his latest efforts to “save baseball” after the Nationals’ 3-2 win over the Phillies, no one should be surprised.
“These are Manfred’s rules,” Scherzer said after the game. “Go ask him. I have said enough.
Truly, the overwhelming silence from the MLB on the matter – and the sport’s bizarre ability to continue to stand in its own way – made MLB players take the heat. Scherzer, screened three times on the pitch for sticky stuff last night, once at the behest of Phillies manager Joe Girardi, was visibly annoyed by the process.
And really, who can blame him? While some people point to Scherzer’s “theater”, the fact that Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, and Tyler Glasnow, three of baseball’s most prominent pitchers, spoke so freely about using sticky stuff tells you it’s something that is much more widely accepted than sport would. make you believe.
And there are also good reasons for this. Scherzer explained.
“If you watch Bohm at bat, I almost put a 95 mph fastball in his head because the ball slipped out of my hand,” Scherzer said. “All night long I was fed up with licking my fingers and tasting rosin. I couldn’t even sweat the back of my head because it really wasn’t a hot night.
“So the only part that was sweating on me was actually my hair, so I had to take my hat off to get any kind of moisture on my hand, to try and mix with the rosin. ‘that’s the confusing part, because I’m just trying to get control of the ball. “
Scherzer’s explanation is just the latest example of a pitcher who just wants to master smooth baseballs. It’s not a question of whether the “sticky stuff” cheats or not, given that rule enforcement has been so loose for, well, never, but the timing leaves much to be desired.
Is there a gray area? Sure. There will be guys who use the sticky stuff to just get a grip on the ball – like using sunscreen and rosin – and then guys who go above and beyond to get a clear advantage over the hitters, like Spider. Tack. This is where the real problem lies, and it is much more difficult to fix.
The most infuriating part of this whole situation is that this is such a simple solution to a simple problem: rather than even trying to strike a balance and negotiate with the players to try and find a solution. to a nonexistent problem, guys like Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, and Tyler Glasnow have been on the front lines, having to answer embarrassing questions at press conferences, making them the bad guys.
Who wants to see guys getting searched on the field by referees like TSA at Dulles Airport? What does that solve? Wednesday’s MLB show of force is just another horror on the pitch to navigate.
It’s a simple tip: stop playing with the baseball. Or change the ball to make it a bit more sticky so players have a grip. Or find a substance accepted by all players. Or how about waiting for the offseason so these guys at least have a chance to adjust and understand?
This is, again, another monster created by MLB, with the league turning a blind eye to something that is an obvious problem and deciding to fix it at an inopportune time.
As is their inability to promote their players. As is their insistence on obscuring local games. So are the looming workforce issues that could shut down the sport this fall. Much like baseball in constant evolution. Much like the era of steroids. Much like MLB teams use technology to steal signs. Just like …
… You understand?
With pitchers just trying to figure out ways to grab a baseball, it’s probably high time the MLB figured out what they’re doing.