Just to button up the Yadier Molina magic sticky ball situation, the Associated Press reports on the reason there was no real hold-up in the game or subsequent investigation/punishment after a baseball stuck to Molina’s catching gear, suggesting there may have been a foreign substance present.
Apparently it’s not against the rules.
As the AP notes, MLB rules do prohibit players from intentionally damaging or doctoring baseballs (ejection, and 10-game suspension), but they do not prohibit position players – including catchers – from having foreign substances on their person. A pitcher who is found to have pine tar or an emery board or similar things out there on the mound is subject to punishment, whether he’s seen using it or not.
But for position players? There’s no such rule. This is not a “oh, everyone does it so don’t worry about it” situation. It’s actually not against the rules, so long as the catcher isn’t passing on the substance to the pitcher.
Free reign, position players! Want that stickum on your catcher gear? Go for it. Want an emery board for that all-important mid-game manicure? Do it. Need to have licorice ready for a seventh-inning snack? You do you. (Yes, licorice is *explicitly* mentioned in the rules as a potential foreign substance.)
Perhaps now Cubs catchers will start aggressively applying pine tar to the front of their catcher’s gear to help with those wild pitches.