Thanks to the reality that so many pitchers use substances that are illegal under the rules, combined with the reality that MLB is under the gun right now to, you know, actually enforce rules to root out cheating, you can expect “foreign substances” to be a really thorny issue this season.
But at least one team is already trying to get ahead of things:
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) March 6, 2020
I don’t think we’re going to see a situation where MLB goes to retroactively investigate teams that have been the worst offenders – again, you’re talking about maybe half the league using substances (and not all are doing it to “cheat” – sometimes it’s just legitimately for grip, which can actually be a safety concern).
But I do think, like the Angels here, we’re going to see some movement to focus on teams/players who are well-known inside the game to use grip-enhancements specifically to – for example – spike a pitcher’s spin rate. Trevor Bauer has conducted his own in-game experiments to show that, yes, using certain illegal substances can dramatically jump a pitcher’s spin rate immediately. And that’s the kind of thing that needs to be cut out, if you’re going to have the rule at all.
There aren’t yet details on what the Angels did, or why this employee was targeted in their investigation, or who led it (Joe Maddon?). Here’s a weird thing: the guy was the visiting clubhouse attendant. So was he providing substances to visiting players? And if so, how did they know he was the hook-up? Kinda weird and a little spicy, right?