Foreign Substance
(USA Today Sports)

MLB Releases Memo on Foreign Substances

The hammer has finally been brought down on baseball’s foreign substance scandal, at least to an extent. MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal released many of the new rules and regulations via Twitter. The full memo can be read here.

So that is the plan to limit the use of foreign substances and end the scandal. I understand the best way to enforce this is to allow umpires full jurisdiction to inspect pitchers at will but is that not a bit hypocritical of Rob Manfred and the league? They have spent the past three years trying to speed up the game and all this will do is slow it down.

The memo did not state any new disciplinary actions but would keep the prior rules in place—a ten-game suspension with pay. Missing two starts at most is fair for starting pitchers, although a ten-game suspension is more substantial for relief pitchers.

Foreign Substance Memo Continued

A huge discussion around foreign substances dealt with sunscreen. Many use it to avoid sunburn while pitching. It has also been combined with rosin from the rosin bags to create “additional tackiness”. Pitchers can continue to use rosin bags, but sunscreen will no longer be allowed, Rosenthal confirmed later in a tweet.

“Foreign substance use appears to be contributing to overall decline in control because it enables style of pitching in which pitchers sacrifice control in favor of spin and velocity. Number of HBPs actually has increased as use of substances has become more prevalent.”

I thought this was an interesting point as well. What is being said here is that data exists to illustrate that not only are foreign substances actually making baseball more dangerous instead of less, but that awareness of the increased prevalence of foreign substances in professional baseball is widespread. So why have they not done anything about it until now?

Another Scandal Mishandled

Baseball continues to demonstrate its lack of ability to deal with any sort of scandal as teams get more creative finding advantages and new ways to increase their odds of winning. Were the Houston Astros the only team cheating? Of course not. Every team wants every advantage they can have to win. Much like the Astros being the scapegoat for cheating and stealing signs, I would not be surprised if Dodgers’ Trevor Bauer and Yankees’ Gerrit Cole were the scapegoats for the foreign substance scandal.

The issue of foreign substances is something that could have been handled a while ago, but managers never reported pitchers that they suspected of using foreign substances. Why? Because there was a good chance that the manager’s starter used it yesterday, or his reliever used it today, or his starter tomorrow uses it. That is how often foreign substances are used in the major leagues.

Now is where the interesting speculation starts. Do offenses improve as a result of the ban? Who will be the first pitcher to get caught following the new rules? I cannot wait to see how this pans out, and I bet plenty of MLB hitters are eager as well.

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