Major League Baseball appears to be in the early stages of cracking down on pitchers using foreign substances for added grip, as ESPN reported last week that umpires will soon check players repeatedly and randomly for sticky stuff, with offenders potentially facing 10-game suspensions.
There's immense pressure on MLB to strictly enforce its rules on foreign substances. How many pitchers are doctoring baseballs with super-sticky products, like the newly popular Spider Tack? This question doesn't have an answer yet. But former big leaguer Jerry Hairston, Jr. believes it'd be best for MLB to develop a new, more effective substance for players to legally use.
"I think that's where we're headed. I think they're going to have a universal rosin bag or mix behind the mound, maybe in the dugout where the umpires will see it before the game," Hairston told the Reiter Than You show on Friday. "Position players use it -- I used it. I used a little bit of pine tar, a little bit of rosin just to make sure I got a grip on the baseball. Sometimes I put it on my glove, because if it's raining a little bit or it's really humid.
"Remember, I played in Baltimore and New York on the East Coast. Sometimes it'd be so humid, that my fingers would get a little moist, and I wanted to make sure that I had a decent grip on the baseball. So again, if they have a universal rosin bag, so to speak, there's nothing wrong with that. And I think that's where they're headed with this."
Last week, four minor league pitchers -- two within the Chicago White Sox organization, one with the San Francisco Giants, and one with the Texas Rangers -- were suspended 10 games by MLB after being caught using illegal foreign substances.
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 average of .237, which is tied for the lowest mark in MLB history.
The entire MLB conversation between Hairston and Reiter can be accessed in the audio player above.