Major League Baseball has had its fair share of scandals throughout its history as a professional league.
From the infamous Black Sox to the Steroid Era, the MLB has had its glorious moments, as well as its embarrassing moments.
The MLB might be facing another scandal that has been well-known among players and fans but has been hush-hush for the most part. MLB pitchers have been reportedly using illegal foreign substances to enhance spin rates and now the league is looking to crack down at the advantage.
MLB owners concluded two days of meetings with a plan to increase enforcement of pitchers using sticky substances in the game. The league would not comment on the contest of the meetings, however, but sources indicated that there would be a greater responsibility on teams to enforcing their own rules on doctoring the baseball.
According to sources, there was also a call to action for umpires to check pieces of uniform for illegal substances. This would include targeting the caps, gloves and uniforms themselves.
Lastly, the meeting also reportedly included cracking down on the issue in the minor leagues as a way to address a systemic problem with the sport.
It was announced in Spring Training that the league would be increasing its monitoring of the problem. They have been collecting balls, monitoring clubhouses and observing spin rates.
Sticky substances can positively impact spin rates, which then influences the potential break of a pitch and more control. Trevor Bauer of the Los Angeles Dodgers is infamous for not only calling out players that could be using foreign substances but also commenting that he could greatly influence his spin rate with foreign substances.
Looking at advanced stats, Bauer’s 4-Seam Fastball revolutions per minute has increased from 2225 (2015) to 2835 (2021). His spin rate has also dramatically increased by at least 500 rpms on all of his pitches from 2015 to 2021.
Josh Donaldson of the Minnesota Twins spoke publicly, saying that he has proof that pitchers are cheating.
Major League Baseball can still suspend pitchers for using an illegal substance, but it appears as if they want to take an approach that discourages pitchers from using substances to begin with. Then, if necessary, they would include suspensions as part of a punishment. The standard to date has been a 10-game ban.
Entering Thursday’s slate of games, the league-wide batting average was .236 – the lower ever. Plate appearances were also ending in a strikeout 24.2 percent of the time.
The league is expected to release its findings and potential punishments in the coming days. While there is no way to quantify how many pitchers were using foreign substances, there is a belief among the league that several pitchers are involved.
When the league goes public with its findings, it could dramatically impact the state of the game. Pitchers have dominated this season and it will be interesting to see how the MLB handles the situation.