Major League Baseball is cracking down on the use of sticky substances, and the new rules have pitchers less than thrilled. The substances have been used frequently by MLB pitchers for decades, but thanks to unclear rules stating what types of substances aren't allowed, MLB now finds itself in a position where they plan to crack down on all substances
New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole became the latest player to speak out against the league's new stance on foreign substances on Wednesday night. After his start against the Blue Jays, Cole said he wants to have open communication with the MLB regarding the use of these substances.
"It's so hard to grip the ball," Cole said following the Yankees' 3-2 win. "For Pete's sake, it's part of the reason why almost every player on the field has had something, regardless if they're a pitcher or not, to help them control the ball."
According to Cole, the best way to handle the situation is better communication between players and the commissioner's office.
"We are aligned in a lot of areas with the commissioner's office on this. ... Please, just talk to us, please just work with us," Cole added. "I know you have the hammer here. But we've been living in a gray area for so long. I would just hate to see players get hurt. I would hate to see balls start flying at people's head. I had a really tough time gripping the baseball tonight, especially early when it was windy.
"I don't really care to be inflammatory here, so I am just going to leave it at that."
Cole is not the only pitcher who is concerned about the new rules.
Chicago White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon bashed the league recently, criticizing MLB for potentially suspending players for 10 games. To him, that is too harsh -- especially when comparing it to the league not suspending any Astros players who were knowingly stealing signs from the 2017-2019 seasons.
Here's what Rodón said, via NBC Sports Chicago:
"It's hard to see this when you're giving out 10-game suspensions for cheating but you give the Astros no suspensions at all. So if Rob Manfred can look at himself in the mirror and say, 'Hey, I'm doing the right thing,' that's fine. You can't suspend the team you actually knew was cheating during a playoff game, that's on you."
Rodon threw a no-hitter in April, throwing 114 pitches and recording first no-hitter of his career in a 8-0 win against the Cleveland Indians.
The new rules state that any player caught using foreign substances to manipulate the baseball will receive an automatic ejection and a 10-game paid suspension. Umpires are also going to frequently check pitchers for such substances.
The always outspoken Trevor Bauer has also been very vocal about his opinions on the new rules.
He said it was "hard to hear [MLB] talk about 'competitive integrity' when they have no integrity to begin with."
To be clear, the memo is fine long term, and it will serve to level the playing field. That is a good thing. But to implement it mid season when for 3 months you’ve promised players and teams that nothing about your chosen enforcement of the rules would change this year and— Trevor Bauer (トレバー・バウアー) (@BauerOutage) June 15, 2021
He also called out umpires, saying they might start making calls based on a pitcher or team they don't like.
Umpires are the big winners here. @mlb just made them judge jury and executioner. If the umpire dislikes a player or a team, even if a pitcher has literally nothing on his hand, oops, sorry. 10 games. And there’s no way for a player to appeal. How do you argue that your hand— Trevor Bauer (トレバー・バウアー) (@BauerOutage) June 16, 2021
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow went as far as blaming the league's upcoming new policies for his injury. After suffering a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and a flexor tendon strain, the pitcher said "I truly believe 100 percent that's why I got hurt. I'm frustrated MLB doesn't understand. You can't just tell us to use nothing. It's crazy."
Commissioner Rob Manfred's reasoning for the latest rules is that foreign substances give "an unfair competitive advantage that has created a lack of action and uneven playing field."
Players and the league have long been at odds and the way it's looking this is not a debate that is going away soon.