Spider Tack, a super-sticky paste that was originally designed to help power weight-lifters grip Atlas stones during strongman competitions, has become the most widely discussed foreign substance that Major League Baseball pitchers are using to increase their spin rates and gain a competitive edge.
How many topflight pitchers are applying adhesives like Spider Tack to the baseball? This question has yet to be answered, as MLB is poised to begin cracking down on players using sticky substances. But MLB Network Radio host CJ Nitkowski believes the number is going to drop, and fast.
"I guess we'll have a much better answer to that in a couple months," Nitkowski told The DA Show on Wednesday. "For anybody that's using, they're now scared out of their mind to use, because it's pretty much an automatic 10-game suspension and because the spotlight is on this. It's not just your standard 10-game suspension that would happen once in a while... Guys who have been using it are going to immediately stop using it, knowing that the microscope is on them, especially with all the cameras that we have.
"And who knows what Major League Baseball is doing, if they their own camera that's strictly focused on the pitcher and watching every single move that he does, and what happens with his hand. Is he touching his forearm a lot, is he going to his hat an absurd amount of times, is there something on his belt, do we see him touching there. I think because of that, some of these players -- very likely if they were using -- will no longer use. The percentages are really difficult.
"Certainly, that [New York Yankees ace] Gerrit Cole presser was a little bit eye-opening -- the way he reacted, obviously not wanting to answer [a question about using Spider Tack] directly. And you can make some pretty safe assumptions from listening to him speak yesterday and watching his body language. But I don't know, it's hard to say... Percentage-wise, it would be difficult to say how many guys are actually using or have used this in the past..."
Last week, four minor league pitchers were suspended by MLB after being caught using illegal foreign substances to doctor baseballs. The consensus around the league is that these grip aids are the leading cause to the game's historically poor offensive numbers.
According to Baseball Reference, hitters currently have a collective batting average of .237, which is tied for the lowest mark in MLB history.
The entire MLB conversation between Nitkowski and DA can be accessed in the audio and video players above.