Stop me if you’ve ever heard this before. Cheating exists in baseball. The Astros got popped, the Red Sox got popped, and rumors are continuing to swirl thanks to Erik Kratz’s statement on the Rockies and possibly the Dodgers as well, so I’ll say it again. Cheating exists in baseball. Just this time, it’s on the pitching side.
Now, if you’ve ever thrown a baseball before in your life at any level, you’d probably notice that getting a grip consistently is easier said than done. And, to combat that, pitchers began to get creative to be able to get the grip needed to be as effective as possible. So, things like pine tar, or very sticky substances, were used to allow a better grip.
And again, I want to reiterate the point that this isn’t new. Batters have actually used pine tar for years to get better bat grips, much like a pitcher with their grip, but I guess the MLB began to see some numbers spike combined with some suspicious rate increases from certain pitchers, and they felt like something needed to be done about it. Enter the latest cheating remedy. The uniform check. And boy, it’s awkward already! Well, thanks to Max Scherzer and Sergio Romo it is.
Heading into the week, the MLB finally laid down the law and stated that if you were caught using any foreign substances as a pitcher, you would be suspended ten games. So, starting Monday, the “Checkups,” were enforced. Of course, it had to be an MLB network game with Jacob DeGrom on the mound, but that’s beside the point because the checkup was fine. They checked the hat, the glove, the inner belt, and that was that.
On the opposite side, they did the same thing to the opposing pitcher at the time, as well as every reliever that entered the game. And that point, it was good. Baseball finally found a way to combat cheating. Then the Phillies took on the Nationals.
And much like DeGrom, they checked on Scherzer in the same areas. But unlike DeGrom, they checked Scherzer multiple times. That’s when things began to get heated because clearly as the checks kept coming, Scherzer got more and more animated.
Then finally, Phillies skip Joe Girardi believed that Scherzer wiping his hair as often as he did throughout the night was his sign of cheating, so he asked the umps to check him one last time. Infuriated, Max threw down his glove and hat, unbuckled his belt, and just stared at the umps yelling, “I don’t have anything,” over and over again.
So, it seems that baseball has yet another problem on their hand with all of this, and leave it to the MLB to have two drastic ways to deal with it. On one hand, you have the absolutely fine checkup with a one-stop-and-go, then you have the absolutely insane check-up multiple times, leading to players like Scherzer and Romo who literally dropped his pants during his inspection. So, it’s going to be interesting to see how this goes.
Will it mellow out and just turn into a normal part of the game, or will the outbursts get Manfred’s attention to the point of more changes possibly being made?