Much has been made of MLB’s proposed crackdown on foreign substances in an effort to even the playing field as pitchers continue to benefit from grip-enhancers, which have shown to dramatically increase a ball’s spin rate. Players seem to be divided on this subject—former AL MVP Josh Donaldson has grown weary of MLB’s lax stance on policing illegal substances (earlier this week, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole pleaded the fifth when asked if he’s ever used “Spider Tack”), while Mets slugger Pete Alonso would argue the exact opposite. Regardless, it looks like MLB, after years of turning a blind eye, is finally ready to address its foreign substance epidemic head on, a long overdue measure that, in the eyes of Angels vet Alex Cobb, can only be a good thing.
“I know of certain guys who use it and it’s kind of elevated their careers. It’s a good thing baseball’s addressing it,” the Halos hurler told Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. “Hitters want you to have a grip, but what’s happening lately is unfair.”
The 33-year-old said he’s used combinations of sunblock and rosin to help his grip, but has shied away from illegal substances that would affect spin rate. “I wish I could use it, honestly. But it kind of has the opposite effect for me,” said Cobb, who relies heavily on his sinker. “I don’t blame the people who are using it. It’s just like the steroid era. Everybody else was using and if you’re not, you’re living ethically but you’re not going to be around this game very long. I’m glad that guys won’t have to be put in that position.”
MLB has proposed random glove and hat checks throughout the game with players found to be using illegal substances subject to a minimum 10-game suspension. Inevitably, some of the craftier cheaters will still find ways to cut corners, but Cobb does think stricter enforcement of these rules will have a noticeable impact. “There are still going to be a few guys that find a way to probably do it, but I think most of the guys are going to stop. If not, you’re going to see two-thirds of the guys suspended, probably.”