Unless my baseball fans here are living under a rock, I’m sure you are aware of the new Illegal Substance rules in the MLB. At this time, baseball has morphed into a game focused upon home runs and strikeouts, making everything else meaningless. Because of this, pitchers have taken it upon themselves to find new ways to increase strikeouts. However, it seems that pitchers are getting greedy. In the past few seasons, a few star pitchers have seen their strikeout numbers go through the roof, along with their spin rate.
Yes, it is obvious pitchers are cheating but was this the way to go for the MLB? Recently, Buster Olney reported that pitchers “will be checked repeatedly and randomly for foreign substances for umpires.” If a pitcher is caught with an Illegal Substance, they would garner a 10-day suspension with no pay. The league could implement this policy within two weeks.
My Thoughts on the Rule
Personally, I 100 percent agree with the rule. It is June 6th when I write this article, and there have already been six no-hitters this season. Not included in that stat, Madison Bumgarner’s 7 inning no-hitter in one leg of a doubleheader. My point is that baseball was heading in a dark, undesirable direction. When there is a possibility that we finish an MLB season with approximately 20 no-hitters, you know something has gone wrong. In bucking up and taking a stance, the MLB showed that are care about the state of the game and won’t tolerate this disrespect to history, and I’m all for it.
Not only do I support the rule, but I’m also not sure what else the MLB could have done. Seemingly every day I see someone on Twitter breaking the news of a new cheater. In this day and age, any average Joe watching a game can catch Illegal Substances. The prominence of social media and today’s society can not be underestimated when we consider this rule. If the MLB refused to act, they put themselves in a position where they look less competent and less informed than random dudes on Twitter.
The Severity of the Rule
Now, to really address the title of this article. I am a fan of the new Illegal Substance rule. With the information used early, pitchers will be suspended for 10 days and are subject to random checks throughout the game. Not only are random checks fair, I think they are the only fair option. The only way to ensure continued accountability is to give repeated checks. If you just checked at the beginning of a game, a pitcher could run back into the clubhouse before the next outing.
As for the punishment, 10 days is a lot worse than it seems. Starting pitchers will miss two starts if suspended. Sure it’s unideal, but so is watching an average pitcher throw a no-hitter because their spin rate is through the roof. Also, this isn’t a random number of days for those wondering. 10 days is the same suspension a player would garner for first-time PED use.
Some People Impacted
For anyone wondering, yes the rule is severe enough. Recently, the MLB mentioned that they are cracking down on foreign substance use. Soon after, the league suspended four minor league pitchers for the use of Illegal Substances. After that, Gerrit Cole’s spin rate went down six percent. Not only did that happen, but he gave up five hits and five earned runs in five innings to earn a fat L against the Rays. Additionally, eccentric personality Trevor Bauer has seen his spin rate drop 10 percent after the league has toughened up. In his most recent start, Bauer went six innings, gave up three runs, four walks, and six hits.
While I won’t start the Witch Hunt and condemn these two just yet, it surely is suspicious timing. These are two pitchers who have been suspected to use Illegal Substances in the past, and these recent starts don’t reflect well on them. Bauer is especially suspect, as his spin rate drastically increased when he joined the Cinncinati Reds and then became a star. The obviously shows that the rule is strong enough because pitchers are dropping their bad habits instantly.
Overall, I have to give it to the MLB on this one. The MLB took action on this issue and I must commend that. Of course, there will be a learning curve with in-game checks. I’m sure there will be a few pitchers who get unfairly yanked, but it’s worth it in the long run. The fun part of this is about to begin. Personally, I can’t wait to see what pitchers lose their advantage. There is a good chance we see a lot of big names fall off a cliff very soon.