Referees start looking for sticky substances


ARLINGTON, Texas – Major league umpires are looking for sticky stuff that pitchers could use to heal baseballs.

What has long been against the rules but seldom applied is no longer overlooked. The crackdown began on Monday when major and minor league umpires began to regularly check all pitchers for sticky substances used to get better grip on balls, but can also increase ball spin and make them harder to hit. hit.

“I think I’ve seen it all in baseball, but it’s new, it’s a new precedent,” said Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker in his 24th season as a Big League manager after 19 seasons as a player.

When asked if such substances were tacitly allowed in the past, Baker replied, “You just haven’t made a lot of fuss about it, but it was against the rules, so we’ll see.”

Any pitcher caught using prohibited foreign substances would be ejected and then suspended for 10 games.

Jacob deGrom was the first pitcher inspected under the new directive in the New York Mets ‘opener of the New York Mets’ doubles program against Atlanta. The two-time National League Cy Young Award winner has passed away.

The Mets and Braves were among 14 major league teams scheduled to play on Monday, six days after a five-page note to the teams about the change underway in the app that followed what baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called a vast process of repeated warnings to no effect.

Citi Field fans booed loudly when plate umpire Ben May stopped deGrom on his way to the pitcher off the field after the right-hander called the team out in order with two strikeouts in the first inning.

Team leader Ron Kulpa jogged from third base and asked deGrom for his glove and hat, and deGrom laughed as he held them out. Kulpa examined them and returned them, then asked deGrom to undo his belt buckle and check if there was goop there, too.

Cleared by Kulpa, deGrom walked over to the dugout, laughing with receiver Tomas Nido of the exchange to fan applause.

Braves starter Kyle Muller, who was making his first big league start, was also stopped and inspected after the bottom of the first.

DeGrom appeared to ask May after the start of the second inning if he needed to be inspected again, but May waved to him at that point. But he was inspected again after the fifth inning, prompting more boos from fans as their hometown pitcher was shut out again.

Manfred said last week that the application of foreign substances was necessary “to level the playing field” after two months of comprehensive data collection, including inspections of balls used in games and testing by third-party inspectors. It came with the league batting average at a low of over half a century with record strikeouts.

Suspended players would not be replaced on a team’s active roster. Braves manager Brian Snitker pointed this out when he met his players on Sunday and discussed the crackdown at length.

“I think the most important thing we wanted to reiterate is that if you blow yourself up, we can’t replace you,” he said Monday from New York. “It’s a big deal. I think everyone is aware of what’s going to happen and how serious it is, not to mess around and get suspended because it’s a big blow to your club when you have to make it short like that. “

When asked if sticky stuff was a problem before: “You could tell the guys were using something.… I could hear the bullets coming out of the guys’ fingers,” Snitker said.

Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said the league had been very clear and thorough about the changes and their reasons, and released another memo on Sunday night before they went into effect for clarity.

“I think it’s pretty well reported that guys have used things for many years, whether it’s sunscreen or pine tar, to get better grip to control the ball for a lot of reasons, than it’s just at your fingertips etc. Obviously now we’re at a different point where guys were using stuff a little more aggressive than that, ”Hyde said.“ The league came down and said, ‘Listen , we’re not going to put up with all of this. ‘ And we’re just going to follow it and see how it goes. “

Stanford’s Brock Jones, left, celebrates with Adam Crampton (10) after hitting a three-run home run against Arizona in the seventh inning during a College World Series baseball game on Monday, June 21, 2021, at the TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo / Rebecca S. Gratz)

Third baseman Ron Kulpa, left, looks inside the cap of New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) after deGrom pitched in the start of the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Monday, June 21, 2021, in New York City.  (AP Photo / Kathy Willens)

Third baseman Ron Kulpa, left, looks inside the cap of New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) after deGrom pitched in the start of the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Monday, June 21, 2021, in New York City. (AP Photo / Kathy Willens)

Third baseman Ron Kulpa, bottom center, quizzes New York Mets starter Jacob deGrom, top center, about foreign substances before deGrom heads for the dugout after pitching the first inning in a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Monday, June 21, 2021, in New York City.  Home plate umpire Ben May, right, watches.  (AP Photo / Kathy Willens)

Third baseman Ron Kulpa, bottom center, quizzes New York Mets starter Jacob deGrom, top center, about foreign substances before deGrom heads for the dugout after pitching the first inning in a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Monday, June 21, 2021, in New York City. Home plate umpire Ben May, right, watches. (AP Photo / Kathy Willens)

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