STATELINE, Nev. (KTXL) — With Major League Baseball in the spotlight on FOX40 Tuesday night, so is the recent crackdown on spin rates.
Pitchers are now being routinely checked for grip substances such as pine tar, sunscreen and Spider Tack — and many don’t like it.
FOX40 got views on the issue from a few former big league pitchers while at the American Century Championship near the shore of Lake Tahoe.
“Yeah, you’ve got to nip it in the bud while you can, and it was time to do something,” said eight-time MLB All-Star Greg Maddux. “And I kind of get a kick out of seeing all the pitchers get mad too when they show them on the highlights. So it is what it is, but let’s play hard and play fair.”
MLB issued warnings before the 2020 season and the current season for pitchers to clean up their act. But they didn’t, which is why enforcement was needed.
“I didn’t realize it was that prevalent and everyone was kind of relying on that,” said two-time MLB All-Star Bret Saberhagen. “We used to get a little something on our fingers when it was cold but not on an everyday basis.”
“I mean, guys used a little pine tar here and there, or we did the Bullfrog and sunscreen. Personally, I never liked the sticky stuff on my hand, you know,” Maddux told FOX40. “It does help; it does give you a better grip. When we played, it was like, ‘Don’t check their pitcher because half of our pitchers are using pine tar, too.’ But I guess this stuff kind of took it to a new level and kind of got it out of hand.”
In the last month or so, baseball has become a fairer game, and hitters now have a better chance to put the ball in play.
“I think you can blame all this crap on analytics more than anything because everyone is looking at all these numbers, rather than throwing strikes and putting the ball in the spots that you need to,” Saberhagen said.
“What I call the ‘propeller heads,’ you know, really pushing those spin rates, and how you’re going to make the ball move and do crazy things,” said 11-time MLB All-Star Roger Clemens. “I had a split-finger and it had plenty of movement without any of that.”
Clemens said he believes unless the big leagues go to a universal designated hitter, some sort of foreign substance will always be relevant in the game.
“So, if you hit off me and you’re at the plate, you’re bare-knuckled and have 4 inches of pine tar on your bat. I strike you out on three pitches and you lay your helmet and bat down, then the batboy runs out your hat and glove, you go to the mound, you’re going to get thrown out of the game. You’re going to have pine tar on your hands because you just hit. So it makes no sense, unless you put a Purell station behind the pitcher’s mound,” he said with a chuckle.