During press availability on Sunday, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he doesn't consider pitchers using foreign substances on the ball to fall under the definition of "cheating." Which is odd, because it is expressly against Major League Baseball's rules. That stance might have something to do with the bombshell Sports Illustrated report that claims Dodgers pitchers are abusing the rules more than anyone.
On Sunday, Roberts said that he hasn't addressed pitchers using foreign substances and MLB's impending crackdown with his team. He also said he doesn't want to know who is using stuff and who isn't.
When asked point blank if he thought using foreign substances on the ball was cheating, Roberts said he didn't, though his reasoning was puzzling. He said, "I think that cheating is more when rules are imposed, are in place and you break them. But I think that we're getting to that point."
That is utter nonsense. Pitchers putting foreign substances on is and always has been illegal. Anyone doing it is, by definition, cheating. Yes, tons of pitchers are doing it, but the bad behavior of others doesn't excuse the stuff happening under your own roof.
Here are Roberts' answers in full:
This is the same Dave Roberts who had harsh words for the Houston Astros after they cheated in the process of winning the 2017 World Series. And because the excuse for MLB pitchers doctoring the ball will be that others are doing it, it's also worth noting that some around baseball believe tons of teams were stealing signs in similar ways to the Astros. Houston just got caught.
In the end, there is no way for pitchers to get their spin rates jump by 300 rpm from one season to the next without using foreign substances. You know who agrees with me? Dodgers ace Trevor Bauer. Bauer increased the spin rate on his four-seam fastball from 2019 to 2021 by as much as 500 rpm, and a minimum of 300.
Pitchers using "sticky stuff" to gain an advantage is absolutely cheating. There's no other word for it. This tweet shares the section from the 2021 MLB rule book about foreign substances on baseballs:
Oddly enough, on Sunday, just after MLB indicated a crackdown on using foreign substances was coming, Bauer's spin rates plummeted.
Roberts can play dumb all he wants, but his stance essentially defends cheating.