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Trevor Bauer calls out media, MLB for story on baseballs being inspected for sticky substances

Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer tried to shift attention to media and MLB after it was reported Thursday that some of the balls from Bauer’s start against the A’s on Wednesday were sent to MLB to be examined for sticky substances.

Bauer tweeted his responses to a story by The Athletic that said umpires collected multiple balls from the game after being alerted that they contained sticky substances. The Athletic report did not specify who alerted the umpires. It did note that MLB has assigned monitors to each team to check for possible cheating.

Bauer called the reporters “gossip bloggers” and blasted MLB for leaking information. He also noted, as did The Athletic, that umpires are sending balls from other games to the league office as it attempts to enforce rules prohibiting the application of foreign substances to them.  

Bauer has been alleging for years that pitchers gain an unfair advantage by using pine tar or other tacky substances to increase the spin rate on their fastballs and thus make the pitch more effective. In April 2018, he appeared to accuse Astros pitchers of using pine tar. He told Sporting News in May 2018 that he wasn’t singling out any organization but was criticizing MLB and people in baseball for ignoring rules.

SN Q&A: Bauer on pine tar, spin rates and more in 2018

“It’s not something that (MLB wants) to address. It’s not something they want public. It’s part of why there’s been such backlash on me making it public,” he said. “No one wants to talk about it, but it needs to be talked about, especially as teams use this information more and more to evaluate players and sign players and stuff like that. It creates a massively unfair playing field.”

Bauer told SN that he, his father and staff at Driveline Baseball had been testing the relationship between tackiness and spin rate for years during offseason training.

He likely used a foreign substance for an inning in an April 30, 2018, start for the Indians. His fastball spin rate in that inning jumped by about 300 rpm, which is the increase Bauer believes takes place when a pitcher uses pine tar or other sticky substances. He would not say whether he used foreign substances in the game.

In February 2020, he told HBO’s “Real Sports” that about 70 percent of MLB pitchers apply something sticky to the ball. “It needs to be talked about more because it affects every single pitch. And it’s a bigger advantage than steroids ever were,” Bauer said. “Because if you know how to manipulate it, you can make the ball do drastically different things from pitch to pitch at the same velocity.”

Bauer hasn’t been the only one in baseball complaining, however. The noise built to the point that MLB announced last March that it would more closely inspect game balls for foreign substances.

Bauer was immediately skeptical of MLB’s plans. He said March 25 on YouTube that pitchers could be penalized for using foreign substances when the source might in fact be fielders’ gloves or hitters’ bats.

“My question is: If I throw a pitch and it gets thrown out (of play) and tested and then have a foreign substance on it, how do they know that it came from me and not from the catcher’s glove or from the third baseman’s glove?” he asked. “Or on a foul ball, what if it happened to hit the handle of a bat where a hitter has pine tar or whatever other substance he wants, which is completely legal so long as it doesn’t go too far up the bat? How are they going to tell that that was me and fault me for using a foreign substance when it could have come from any host of other places that are all legal?”

He also questioned the effectiveness of MLB’s plans to analyze historical Statcast spin rate data and scrutinize key points in a game. He said pitchers can manipulate spin rates to avoid scrutiny, and he added that they use sticky substances either all the time or none of the time.

He saw little chance of pitchers being punished.

“My prediction: Nothing changes. You’re not going to see anyone getting ejected or fined or suspended or anything like that. Maybe a couple people in really glaring cases to try to send a message, but my prediction, (MLB is) just pandering to the public perception that ‘Hey, we’re solving this issue’ when they really don’t care to solve it one way or the other for competitive integrity reasons,” he said.

“Now, they do care to solve it for getting more balls put in play and making the game more interesting or whatever the case is. But I don’t think they really care about the competitive integrity,” he added.




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