Buck Showalter: MLB should give pitchers an approved universal sticky substance


The Mets have been hit by 11 pitches in their first seven games, and while thankfully, no one has been seriously injured (Pete Alonso’s shiner and fat lip notwithstanding), Buck Showalter has not been happy with the amount of times his squad has been plunked.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the Mets are going to start headhunting, as he told Carton & Roberts in his first in-season appearance on WFAN Thursday.

“Does stupid fix stupid?” Buck asked bluntly. “As one of the leaders of our team, you have to have a grip on reality. It’s easy to show how tough you are, and then someone is in a pool of blood. It’s frustrating for us, but I’m certainly not going to penalize guys if it’s not intentional – but at the same time, if you wanna throw in there, don’t do it if you can’t control it.”

And one thing he can control is not telling his team they need to stand up and fight back.

“Everything your team does is a reflection on you, whether you like it or not, and one of the toughest things to do in a team sport is support a teammate when they’re wrong,” he said. “I’ve had players do things in the past where you have to defend them when they’re wrong, and it’s uncomfortable. Give us a good cause to defend you.”

Part of the reason Buck doesn’t blame the pitchers because he actually thinks that the problem isn’t with the hurlers themselves, but with what they can and can’t do after the Spider-Tack controversy of 2021.

“I think it’s a deeper seated problem with the grip of the baseball, because some of our guys are having the same issue,” Showalter said. “The pitchers took it too far with Spider Tack and made it a pitching advantage, and now I’m not so sure we haven’t gone too far the other way.”

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Showalter’s solution? Well, he’d like to see MLB implement a universal substance pitchers can use, so that everyone is on the same level when it comes to “assistance” in a controlled environment.

“Believe me, I’m not going to sit and say woe is me, but trying to grip a baseball rubbed with mud in April or October when it’s cold…it’s real slick, and the rosin just doesn’t do as much as you think,” he said. “What pitchers had before was on the fingertips – being on the hand doesn’t help you – but I’m in favor of a universal pitching rag behind the mound that all pitchers can use, so it’s the same.”

As Buck noted, hitters can use batting gloves, pine tar, and bat wraps to keep grip on their bats, the latter two of which come with rules on use, so it’s only fair pitchers should have the same courtesy, and having a universal approved substance might be easier than tacking up the baseballs.

“You look at the Japanese balls that come off the line tacky, but the problem is that it’s easy for people to copy the tack so you never know,” Buck said. “In fairness to the pitchers, there could be a rag everyone approves, and if you do anything to alter that, you come down hard. A lot of pitchers just want that chance to have something tacky on their fingertips so they can hold the ball.”

Follow WFAN's afternoon team on Twitter: @CartonRoberts, @EvanRobertsWFAN, @TommyLugauer, and @CMacWFAN

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