Baseball

Limiting the Use of Foreign Substances in Baseball

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On Wednesday evening, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt aired his frustrations about cheating and the use of foreign substances in baseball after his ejection arguing for Giovanny Gallegos ‘cap-gate’.

What Had Happened

Umpire Joe West had asked Gallegos to remove his hat before pitching or else the Cardinals reliever would have to leave the game. This was due to West supposedly noting a foreign substance on the bill of Gallegos’ hat which was then confiscated under the new MLB rule which states:

“Pitchers may not have On his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance”

MLB Rule 6.02

Foreign substances in baseball have been used and will continue to be used unless MLB consistently addresses the issue. But the situation between West and Gallegos raises the question. Is this the dawn of a new day in policing these substances?

What Shildt Had to Say About Foreign Substances in Baseball

Shildt brings up a valid point, the use of foreign substances by pitchers is baseball’s worst-kept secret, and it is a secret that has an impact on the game that is showcased each and every day. He continues to say that MLB is in a very tough position “because there are people effectively, and not even trying to hide, essentially flipping the bird at the league with how they are cheating in this game.”

The Cardinals manager closes with saying he understands Major League Baseball is trying to do its best to limit the use of these substances without diminishing the integrity of the game.

The Use of Foreign Substances in Baseball is an Issue

Shildt is not the only figure in baseball to come out and speak out against this problem. Phillies catcher, J.T. Realmuto also publicly stated that he thinks more pitchers are using substances than in the past. He also stated his belief that if the offices in the MLB cracked down on the usage of foreign substances, there would be fewer swings and misses.

Realmuto and Shildt are not wrong either. Every baseball fan has seen the lack of offense this season. Spin rates and velocity are already at an all-time high from guys on the mound and that is without the use of foreign substances. Now with these foreign substances in baseball, the strikeout rates are high, walk rates high as well. It is a problem and MLB is addressing the wrong issues.

Focus on Policing Foreign Substances

Major League Baseball has to shift their focus on the policing of foreign substances before moving the mound back. Moving the mound back a foot may help initially, but pitchers will most likely find another way to get a leg up on hitters.

MLB has tried policing foreign substances in baseball, and what we saw with Joe West and Giovanny Gallegos may have rocked the boat, but it is a neccessary evil.

In April, MLB batters hit .232. .232! That is 20 points lower than 2019’s overall batting average. Furthermore, the strikeouts per game is at an all-time high; it’s no secret that something has to change.

Granted, the season is still early, and batters tend to heat up in the summer. But the use of foreign substances in baseball has certainly reared its ugly head at the start of the 2021 campaign.

Change NEEDS to Happen

Back in April, Dodgers star, Trevor Bauer, was asked how many pitchers use foreign substances. He estimated that almost 70% of pitchers in the MLB use some sort of illegal substance on the baseball.

Mike Shildt hit it on the head by stating that foreign substances are MLB’s dirty little secret. MLB may have created a policy against the use of foreign substances in baseball, and to their credit, there has been some effort this season. But there needs to be more of a unified drive to change the way foreign substances are policed.

Between Realmuto and Bauer, it sounds like it is universally accepted by MLB players that pitchers use foreign substances. In the pitchers defense, it may help with grip and will not impact the movement of the baseball. But in the cases that substances like pine tar are used where grip and movement of the baseball are affected, these players have to step up and call out when the ball’s movement is enhanced.

For the start of the season, the lack of offense has been evident, and limiting the use of foreign substances could be a piece of solving the lack of offense.


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