Major League Baseball is attempting to crack down on cheating. In an article by the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, MLB sent a memo to all teams that they will be monitoring Statcast data closely to identify would-be cheaters.
ESPN’s Buster Olney elaborated on Wednesday’s episode of Baseball Tonight.
The way they do that potentially is if they see a spike in spin rate then that will make those players candidates for being potential violaters of MLB’s foreign substance rule.
MLB foreign substance or doctoring the baseball rule states “No player is permitted to intentionally damage, deface or discolor the baseball by rubbing it with any type of foreign item or substance, including dirt or saliva.”
According to Sherman, MLB will collect baseballs to test for foreign substances. A third party company will test those baseballs and report any findings.
MLB also communicated that players can be punished “regardless of whether evidence of the violation has been discovered during or following a game.”
Olney’s guest Dave Schoenfield cited the use of pine tar and other substances by pitchers as main contributor to the lack of offense in the game.
“I think this is a huge reason why we see some of these ungodly breaking balls that pitchers throw these days,combined with their increased velocity, is making hitting very very hard.”
Olney rebuked the notion that Statcast will solve the problem.
“I don’t think baseball necessarily needs analytics. It needs an enforcement arm because to this point, the way they’ve enforced this rule is to ask the managers to go out and challenge and to ask the pitchers to be checked. Unless they basically tell the umpires ‘look, it’s on you to enforce the rules’, this is kind of eyewash.”
On top of being a rule violation, MLB hopes that minimizing a pitcher’s advantage will result in fewer strikeouts and more runs. They believe more offense will bring in more fans.
“That’s their goal is to help offenses by taking foreign substances out of the game.”
Moreover, this memo could be a step in returning baseball to the forefront of the American sports universe. If it’s enforced by the umpires.
Most importantly, MLB sent a message. Cheating will be…less tolerated than before.