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Major League Baseball Pitchers Face Sticky Situation

By: Mallory Morrow

Edited By: Kylie Augis

Since the 2021 season, Major League Baseball has been cracking down on the use of foreign substances by pitchers. After two years, the MLB has not backed down, and has even asked umpires to crack down more during their in-game inspections for the 2023 season. Two pitchers were ejected for the entirety of the 2021 season, but through less than one-third of games played so far in the 2023 season two pitchers have already been ejected.

Rosin, a type of resin made from trees, is the only sticky substance pitchers are allowed to use in the MLB. Rosin is mixed with powder, and sits behind the mound in a bag for pitchers to use in order to get a grip on the baseball. Pitchers are not allowed to use any other substances and there are even limitations when it comes to the use of rosin. Rosin being used by ejected pitchers is not the issue, rather umpires have seemed to not like the stickiness level leading them to believe rosin is being used in an illegal way or another foreign substance is in use in addition to it. The subjectivity in determining the level of stickiness has upset pitchers and managers around the league.

Max Scherzer, pitcher for the New York Mets, was the first ejection of the 2023 season during an April 19 game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The umpire crew determined Scherzer’s hand was too sticky and threw him out of the game. Scherzer was handed a 10-game suspension and a $10,000 fine that was later reduced to $5,000. Any player who violates foreign substance rules faces these repercussions. Players have the opportunity to appeal the decision, but Scherzer decided to withdraw his appeal due to difficulties with overturning it. Scherzer made his feelings known to the media surrounding the gray areas in foreign substance rules, and was adamant he used rosin legally.

Courtesy of Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Domingo Germán, pitcher for the New York Yankees, was the second ejection of the 2023 season during a May 16 game against the Toronto Blue Jays. The umpire crew found a very sticky substance on Germán’s hand and tossed him out. The same umpire crew actually had suspicions about a substance on Germán’s hand during an April 15 game against the Minnesota Twins. The crew ultimately let him stay in that game after washing his hands. Following his May 16 ejection, Germán was handed a 10-game suspension and a fine with the amount being undisclosed. Similar to Scherzer, Germán insisted it was just rosin and his sweat was mixed in with it.

Clarke Schmidt, pitcher for the New York Yankees, was closely inspected during a May 20 game against the Cincinnati Reds. One of the umpire’s noticed something on Schmidt’s hand, but as a whole the umpire crew decided Schmidt could stay in the game after asking him to wash his hands. However, this situation still led to an ejection. David Bell, manager for the Cincinnati Reds, argued on why Schmidt was allowed to remain in the game which resulted in Bell being ejected. This same ejection situation also happened to Rocco Baldelli, manager for the Minnesota Twins, during the April 15 game against the New York Yankees when Domingo Germán was allowed to continue pitching after washing his hands.

With both pitcher ejections this season coming from the New York teams, it almost seems like something is in the air there. The discretion of foreign substances being left up to umpires has not only pitchers, but also managers on the other side of the diamond being ejected. This sticky situation has players, managers, umpires, and the MLB all looking at each other trying to figure out the meaning of the foreign substance rules.

Courtesy of Dylan Buell/Getty Images

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