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New York Mets ace Max Scherzer was ejected from Wednesday afternoon's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers (GameTracker) after umpires examined his glove and pitching hand following the third inning. It was the second time Scherzer was inspected in the game. The umpires had him swap out his glove for a new one an inning earlier. After the game, Mets manager Buck Showalter confirmed that Scherzer was ejected for having a sticky substance on his glove. Scherzer in his postgame interview insisted — on his "kids' life" — that he was using nothing more than sweat and rosin, as is standard practice for pitchers. 

The television broadcasts showed what appeared to be Scherzer yelling "it's rosin!" at umpire Phil Cuzzi and crew chief Dan Bellino immediately prior to the ejection. Here are Bellino and Cuzzi inspecting Scherzer's pitching hand, Scherzer pleading his case, and then the ejection:

Pitchers ejected for foreign substances automatically receive a 10-game suspension, which can be appealed. While use of rosin by pitchers is permitted, it's not allowed to be combined with another substance, applied to the pitcher's glove, or used to discolor or damage the baseball. 

According to Scherzer, here's the sequence of events: 

  • The tackiness on his hand was "a little clumpy" from the sweat and rosin, and Cuzzi, following the bottom of the second, told him to wash it off. He did, using alcohol. 
  • After the third, Cuzzi told Scherzer that his hand was "too sticky" and to wash his hands again and reapply the rosin, which Scherzer did. Scherzer post-game explained this by saying it was a consequence of washing his hands with alcohol: "The alcohol for a little bit there can be a little sticky in rosin-ing." Cuzzi also told Scherzer to get a new glove because too much rosin was present on the glove. Scherzer complied and retrieved a new glove before taking the field for the bottom of the fourth.
  • Scherzer said he washed his hands prior to the fourth in front of the MLB official present and then in front of that same official applied rosin and sweat. 
  • Scherzer said that he knew he was going to be checked prior to working the fourth inning: "I would have to be an absolute idiot to try to do anything when I'm coming back out for the fourth." 
  • After being checked before the bottom of the fourth commenced, Scherzer was ejected because, in Cuzzi's estimation, his hand was still too sticky. "Yes," Scherzer said postgame, "when you use sweat and rosin your hand is sticky. But I don't get how I get ejected when I'm in front of MLB officials doing exactly, exactly what you want and being deemed that my hand's too sticky when I'm using a legal substance. I do not understand that." 
  • When Cuzzi continued insisting that Scherzer's hand was too sticky, the pitcher says he told him, "I swear on my kids' life, I'm not using anything else. This is sweat and rosin, sweat and rosin."   

During his postgame interview, Showalter also said, "Phil [Cuzzi] is a guy that has been known for that. We'll see." As the New York Post notes, Cuzzi has indeed been involved with a number of similar controversies.

On the umpiring side of things, crew chief Dan Bellino seemed to back up Cuzzi's decision and said Scherzer's throwing hand was sticky well beyond the norm: 

Pitchers typically use grip-enhancing substances in order to improve spin rates on pitches, but Scherzer on Wednesday didn't show elevated spin rates. Across the way, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said none of the glove-check requests came from his team.

Last week, New York Yankees righty Domingo Germán was told to wash his hands after umpires determined he was using too much rosin. "This was not an ejectable offense because we didn't feel it rose to the foreign substance standard where it affected his pitching," umpire James Hoye told following the game.

Back in spring training, MLB informed umpires to ramp up enforcement of the league's foreign substance ban. Enforcement had become lax -- not a single pitcher was caught with a foreign substance last year -- and MLB wants to crack down as spin rates have crept back up. MLB may have increased those efforts even further following the Germán incident.

When MLB first began foreign substance checks two years ago, Scherzer was among the first pitchers to have an issue with the umpires and the checks themselves. He memorably removed his belt and taunted then-Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi when no substances were found.

Scherzer started Wednesday after having his previous start pushed back a few days by a back issue. He allowed one run and two walks in three innings prior to the ejection.