Major League Baseball’s crackdown on sticky substances is about to begin.
The league issued a memo on Tuesday, highlighting the major changes that will be made to police pitchers who use foreign substances in the middle of the season.
First, the league will implement two rules that have been largely ignored in recent seasons. The first is Rule 3.01, which stipulates that “Any player shall not deliberately rub the ball with soil, rosin, paraffin, licorice, sandpaper, sandpaper or other foreign objects to cause the ball to change color or damage it.”
The second rule 6.02(c) is an extension of rule 3.01. According to the Major League Baseball press release, it states that pitchers must not “smear any kind of foreign matter on the ball”; “contaminate the ball in any way;” throw flashing balls, spit balls, mud balls or emery balls; “carry them with you. Or hold any foreign object;” or “Put anything on his hand, any finger or any wrist (for example, band-aid, tape, super glue, bracelet, etc.).”
With these two rules now being properly implemented, Major League Baseball will adopt new measures to level the competition. This will include:
- “Regular” material checks for starters and back-up players throughout the game.
- There is a mandatory check on the starting pitcher in each game.
- Any time the ball feels “unusually sticky” or when the referee observes that the pitcher walks over his gloves, hat, belt, or his uniform or any other part of his body to retrieve or apply something that may be a foreign object.
- The catcher is checked.
In terms of penalties, if a pitcher is caught, he will be suspended for 10 days with pay. The team will not be able to replace the suspended players on the 26-man roster. If a player refuses to cooperate with the referee, he will be presumed guilty and will be expelled and suspended.
In addition, any non-shooter who smears foreign objects on the ball will be suspended. Even if the pitcher is not the person who applied the substance to the ball, if a foreign object is found on the ball, in addition to the player or personnel doing so, he will be suspended.
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Pitchers can still use the rosin bag on the mound, but it is not allowed to mix it with any other substances. This includes sunscreen, and it is recommended that pitchers do not wear sunscreen at night or indoors.
These are huge changes to MLB’s previous interpretation of the rules, and unless the opposing manager complains about the use of prohibited substances by pitchers, these rules have been largely ignored. These situations are rare.
Will this system succeed? How many players will be suspended? Only time will give the answer.
But one thing is certain: once June 21st arrives, MLB games may be very different from the fierce pitching matchups we often see at the beginning of the 2021 MLB season.