Major League Baseball recently announced that they were going to crack down on pitchers using foreign substances to increase their grip and spin rate. At the time this was revealed, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Alex Cobb showed his support, saying that using substances to increase spin rate is a huge issue and needs to be removed. Joe Maddon echoed a similar sentiment about level playing fields.
All of the talk of rule changes finally turned into action, as the league released a new set of guidelines regarding substances. The new rules essentially ban all substances used to help pitchers get a better grip on the baseball, including sunscreen and rosin. It also allows umpires to check in on the pitcher and the baseballs periodically to ensure nothing is going on that they can’t see.
Cobb, who was originally in favor of the rule changes, said that they took it too far and gave a passioned argument for allowing minor substances like sunscreen, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I was hoping the reason it was taking so long was because MLB was doing due diligence and handling it the proper way, trying to find a way to address the main issue, which is the variance of balls that we use,” Cobb said. “The mud that they put on the ball that turns into a powder created this issue in the first place. But I was very disappointed when it came out and saw that they didn’t address anything.
“Pitchers took it too far,” Cobb added, “but this sticky substance originated in kind of an honest manner where guys were trying to get a grip on the ball. I thought MLB was going to address that problem. But they didn’t.”
Maddon, on the other hand, threw his full support behind Major League Baseball, saying that something drastic needed to be done to even the playing field.
“I’m kind of pleased with it all, actually,” Maddon said. “I don’t want to offend anybody on our team. Absolutely not. But as an industry, going forward to make it the best version of our game and more interesting for us and for young kids that may want to play in the future, I think it’s the right thing to do. It really is an unfair advantage.”
Both Maddon and Cobb have reasonable points. Things could get tricky if, on such short notice, the league tries to differentiate between substances that specifically help grip and those that actually increase spin rate.
On the other hand, banning all substances of any kind could not only lead to pitchers having a lack of control, it could also mean pitchers and batters getting hurt more often. Tampa Bay Rays ace Tyler Glasnow has already blamed the new rules on his partially torn UCL which could potentially lead to Tommy John surgery.
Cobb is likely right in that the league cannot simply leave this rule as is. Over time, they need to evaluate certain substances that should eventually be allowed back into the game. A blanket substance ban simply won’t work the way they hope, but in a way, it’s a good start towards the right answers.
Mike Trout about a month away
One of the most important issues surrounding the Angels — outside of foreign substance rules — is the return of Mike Trout. Maddon gave an update on the Halos superstar, saying that his status for the All-Star Game on July 13 in up in the air. With that, he gave a timetable of about one month on his return.