According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, MLB senior VP Chris Young has been touring spring training camps to talk to teams about the fact that the league will be enforcing the rules governing pitchers using foreign substances this season. Rule 8.02 is not a new rule, but they will be enforcing it instead of ignoring it.
Does the decision have anything to do with Baseball deciding they need to do a better job policing all cheating? Or is this just a happy coincidence? Via the New York Post:
“As in past years, MLB is conducting our normal spring training meetings to review rules, replay, umpiring and other topics related to on-field play. We want to ensure that all clubs understand the rules and regulations and adhere to them,” Young told The Post in a text message.
Just normal housekeeping, apparently. While most leagues spend a great amount of time and effort attempting to refine their rules so that everything is covered, baseball mostly just puts some stuff in writing and then lets the teams and players decide what to do and not do under the auspices of the Unwritten Rules of Baseball.
While umpires will be asked to keep a closer eye on pitchers this season, MLB is trying to figure out another compromise because their baseballs are too slick.
Young, a former pitcher himself, said a goal before next season is to come up with a baseball or a substance that could be rubbed on the baseballs that provides desired grip without allowing a huge advantage in spin. MLB has toyed with a prototype of the baseballs used in the Japanese Leagues that are tackier, but some pitchers have complained the balls do not retain that tack.
It's been over 100 years and they still haven't figured out the main piece of equipment. With all the technology available today, you would think they could work this out. But you'd be wrong.