Major League Baseball’s reckoning is finally upon us. Starting June 21, any players caught with foreign substances, which includes everything from sunscreen combined with rosin to the now-infamous Spider Tack, will be suspended for 10 games. For the Chicago Cubs, it means making adjustments in preparation for the new policy.
On Tuesday, Zach Davies spoke on the frustrations of navigating the changes to the league during the season. Pitchers are having to readjust themselves after years of using their substance of choice to get a better grip on the baseball. Making those adjustments now while teams like the Cubs are fighting for a postseason spot, is challenging.
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"“Going into this year, it would have been nice to have a clear-cut path for a lot of guys,” Davies said in a Chicago Sun-Times article. “But now, you’re having to U-turn in the middle of the season and try and figure things out. That’s frustrating. It’s annoying to have to talk about when it all could have been settled in spring training and guys aren’t worrying about trying to win ballgames.”"
Davies isn’t alone in this line of thinking. After suffering a torn UCL, Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow aired his frustration with the league’s sudden pivot away from foreign substances. He partially blaims the the quick switch from utilizing sunscreen to using nothing for his injury due to the changes in delivery he’s had to make.
It’s far past time the league dealt with the rising use of sticky substances, but tackling the issue in the middle of the season will no doubt throw a lot of pitchers off their game.
Chicago Cubs manager David Ross just wants a uniform playing field
David Ross, on the other hand, just wants everything to be equal among teams. No more sticky substances, just set everything back to zero and have everyone pitch with what they were given. He also made an interesting point regarding the inconsistency in baseballs from game to game and ballpark to ballpark and how uniformity needs to be reached in all aspects.
"“I would say that we have to put an emphasis on making sure that the baseball is uniform,” Ross remarked. “Everywhere you go, you definitely hear pitchers talking about when [they] go on the road at this place, the balls are a little more chalky than in that place whether that has to do with climate or humidity, lack of humidity, or how somebody rubs them, there’s so many variables in that and I think we just have to get back to finding some form with that.”"
I get the sentiment of making things equal and fair, but it’s clear that there are widespread frustrations about how the commissioner is handling the situation. Spider Tack and other similar substances are a blight on the game, yet this rapid shift will inevitably punish pitchers utilizing long accepted substances for better grip alongside the actual cheaters. How this affects the Cubs remains to be seen, but if what Davies said is any indication, there will be some tough adjustments.
It’s an insanely sticky situation (pun definitely intended) for the league to handle and a decision I don’t envy Rob Manfred for having to make. Then again, this wouldn’t have happened if the league stepped in sooner. Their inaction has left them with no choice but to leave players scrambling to adjust to a new normal.