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#pounditThursday, December 1, 2022

MLB introducing stricter checks for sticky substances

Rob Manfred at a press conference

Major League Baseball is doubling down on its enforcement of foreign substance rules for the 2022 season.

Umpires will be permitted to inspect a pitcher’s hand for substance checks this season in addition to their hat, belt, and glove, according to Tom Verducci of SI. The new checks come in response to data that hinted at players finding ways to circumvent the foreign substance checks that were introduced last season.

“If an umpire’s inspection reveals that the pitcher’s hand is unquestionably sticky or shows unmistakable signs of the presence of a foreign substance, the umpire will conclude that the pitcher was applying a foreign substance to the baseball for the purpose of gaining an unfair competitive advantage,” MLB vice president of baseball operations Mike Hill told clubs in a memo.

The league also made clear that a pitcher seen wiping his hand before an enforcement check could be subject to ejection at the umpire’s discretion.

After spin rates initially fell when MLB cracked down on the usage of sticky substances in June, the numbers rose again toward the end of the season. This led the league to suspect that many pitchers had managed to find workarounds, hence the introduction of these new guidelines.

MLB’s crackdown faced some initial criticism when it was implemented last June, but it certainly seemed to work once everyone got used to it. Pitchers might not be happy about this change, but it’s hard to argue that enforcement did not improve the on-field product.

Photo: Feb 17, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; MLB commissioner Rob Manfred addresses representatives from the grapefruit league during the annual spring training media day at Hilton in West Palm Beach. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

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