MLB reportedly wants stickier baseballs to eliminate the need for foreign substances

As part of MLB’s efforts to improve the game, the league may soon have new baseballs.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, MLB has commissioned Rawlings to manufacturer a baseball with natural tact on the leather. This would eliminate the need for pitchers to use a foreign substance, like pine tar or sun screen, to improve their grip. The ball would be the same size and weight. It would just be stickier.

Here are some details from Passan:

MLB has commissioned Rawlings, its official manufacturer, to produce a ball with natural tack on the leather in hopes of eliminating the need for pine tar, sunscreen and rosin, or any other foreign substances whose use in recent years has blurred the legal-illegal line, sources familiar with the project told Yahoo Sports. The balls also would not need a pregame polish of Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud, the New Jersey-harvested muck that for decades has taken the sheen off the pearls that come out of the box.

The new baseballs were tested briefly in the Arizona Fall League last year, and Passan says a common complaint was the tackiness did not last long. Also, the fact they were using a pearly white baseball was unsettling to some players. The ball was functionally the same. It just looked different.

Most pitchers around the league use some sort of foreign substance to improve their grip, especially on cold days. Hitters don’t mind because they’d rather the pitcher to have a good grip than worry about a pitch getting away and hitting them in the head. Very rarely do managers call out opposing pitchers for using a foreign substance because many of their own guys use them too. The only time pitchers get caught is when they make the foreign substance too obvious.

A tackier baseball would allow MLB to crack down on foreign substances. USATSI

The new baseballs will not be used this coming season, according to Passan. The earliest they will be used in MLB is 2018, and even that might happen. Rawlings still needs to get the ball right, and I’m sure it’ll be tested thoroughly in the minors before being introduced to the big leagues. The new stickier baseballs could be a few years away.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for,,,... Full Bio

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