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Dodgers: Eric Gagné’s Take on Baseball’s Foreign Substance Issue With Pitchers

The former Dodgers closer gives his thoughts on baseball’s growing problem.



Baseball has yet another problem that is right on the edge of getting out of control. Players around MLB have talked about pitchers using illegal grip-enhancement substances, and it’s becoming more and more public. Most recently, a Los Angeles Angels ex-employee revealed that he had mixed substances for a few stars around the league, though no Dodgers players were named. 

Fans and experts go back and forth on the issue, and each side has its own argument. Some argue that it should be illegal and enforced, while others believe that the rule is ignored for a reason. Some hitters even insist that they would rather the pitcher be able to grip the ball than risk getting drilled with a 100 mph heater. As it turns out, former Dodgers legend Eric Gagné might agree with that angle. 

We caught up with Gagné this week and talked all things Dodgers. We also asked him about the recent report linking stars to a foreign substance scandal. Gagné said that he was in favor of helping pitchers keep the ball conditions consistent. 

As long as it’s done for the safety and for the greater of the game, that’s all I care about. Does it give an advantage? Yeah, but do you want to get hit in the head in Colorado and then go to Florida, it’s a totally different ball. So if they give me the consistency of the ball, I know exactly what I’m getting in Colorado or what I’m getting in Flroida.

The cold weather is often a reason why pitchers use grip enhancements in MLB. The cold weather dries out hands and makes the ball slicker, often resulting in pitchers not being able to control nearly as well as they should. For instance, a Dodgers pitcher who throws in LA on Monday and then New York later in the week is going to have very different experiences with grip. 

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The consensus around the league seems to be ‘just make a rule and get it figured out’. The gray area that pitchers operate in right now is just too complicated and looks incredibly shady to the average fan. Dodgers fans have not had to hear much about it in recent history, but it is an issue around the league.

What do you think? Should pitchers be allowed to use grip-enhancers the same way an MLB hitter does? Or should it just be a sweeping ban across the league? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. No pun intended, but this is a slippery slope. If a substance is allowed, pitchers will be applying it to a single spot on the ball to affect movement. Or like what is happening now, increased spin rates. Then enforcement with that becomes an issue. So how is this type of substance allowed without creating the other issues?

  2. Ideally you would have to put the grip enhancer on the hand since if it is put unevenly on the ball you would have a spitball. You could apply it evenly to all balls in the manufacturing process but that would change more than just the spin. And while cold weather may change the grip there are a whole host of humidity, temperature, and other weather conditions that can change the grip that you will never be able to eliminate. I’m all for listening to what the players have to say. But is the guy making the argument that you don’t want to be beaned because the pitcher can’t get a grip- is he a guy who is cheating now and therefore forcing a whole raft of guys to cheat also so they can stay competitive. Give him a lie detector test first or else you can go get advice from Altuve and Springer.

    • I forgot that Gagne cheated by using PEDs so he could throw at 100 mph. But I never heard him express any concern that his illegally sped up fastball might hurt somebody.

  3. It’s a terrible thing to suggest but I believe there is a strong likelihood that a batter will get hit in the head/face and his career or even his life is ended if no grip enhancement of any type is allowed. Most are too young to remember Red Sox, Tony Conigliaro.

    Certainly if MLB allows the use of one particular type and amount there will be those that try to slip in something that works better (or they think it does).

  4. Isn’t that what the rosin is for? If you watch the pitchers during games, they hardly use the rosin. A few use it often, like Kenta Maeta and Ryu after every pitch, but most barely touch the rosin bag.

    • We should interview Gaylord Perry on this one. So was it all about safety Mr. Perry? Of course! The vaseline, vagisil, spit, etc. allowed the ball to easily slide off the batter on any unfortunate contact, thus limiting injury. . The fact that these pitches put Perry into the HOF with 314 wins had nothing to with it. Now it’s a better grip to promote safety? We have rosin bags for that. They’re behind every pitchers mound for both pitcher. So it’s not about additional velocity or spin rate? Oh no. Just for safety! The pitchers for both teams use the same baseball, and pitch in the same weather. Baseballs aren’t inflated so the Tom Brady effect is eliminated. Leave all foreign substances at home and just pitch. Or be prepared to be kicked out of games.

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