On Sunday, Mariners lefty Hector Santiago became the first pitcher booted from the game under MLB’s new sticky stuff investigative authority and enhanced enforcement procedure (we’ve got to work on the nomenclature). In case you missed it, Santiago was undergoing the standard check as he left his appearance when umpires spotted something, confiscated his glove, and tossed him from the game.
— Robert Flores (@RoFlo) June 27, 2021
And today, he became the first pitcher – again, under these new rules – to receive the outlined punishment: A 10-game suspension (with pay), during which his team is *not* allowed to replace him on the roster.
But alas. Nothing is ever easy. That punishment was supposed to begin tonight, per the announcement below, however …
Suspension handed down to Héctor Santiago after he was ejected a Sunday. Santiago is appealing. pic.twitter.com/ev4DzYtRR0
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) June 29, 2021
… Santiago is appealing the ruling, and reportedly claims to have been using only sweat and rosin. An argument strengthened by the fact that MLB reportedly did not test the glove further.
The Hector Santiago appeal should be fascinating. He says he used only sweat and rosin, not a foreign substance. His actions during the game don't necessarily fit the bill for someone using a banned substance, either. He licked his fingers. He caked his non-pitching arm in rosin.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 29, 2021
Per source, the league didn't need to inspect Santiago's glove any further. The ejection and discipline are based on the umpires’ report of having detected a foreign substance.
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) June 29, 2021
What a cluster. MLB really whiffed on that one.
Am I confident that Santiago is telling the truth? Uh, no. I’m not. I have no idea if he was cheating or not, but I am confident that pitchers are still going to try, and there’s no reason it couldn’t be him. I’m also fairly confident that the umpires probably did spot something, either during his performance or after they grabbed his glove. But that’s precisely why they should’ve tested it further, because now the appeal has a pretty good case.
Perhaps this is just a hard-learned lesson for MLB, who can do more due diligence the next time around?
But while MLB may have goofed up on this first, highly publicized rule enforcement, it’s tough to say there hasn’t already been an impact. You can’t read an article or scroll Twitter without finding new stats about how RPMs are down across the league, so clearly there’s been some effect. Hopefully, MLB finds a way to clean this one up quickly and other pitchers don’t become emboldened to test their luck. Stay tuned for more.