Major League Baseball seems stuck in another cheating scandal. Over the past few years, the use of sticky substances by pitchers has been an open secret. Through the use of technology, pitchers have learned using foreign substances on the ball improve spin rates and velocity, which provides greater movement making it more difficult to hit. Batting averages have decreased and strikeouts continue to rise, thus fan excitement over the game has diminished.
Though aware of the problem, Major League Baseball has been unwilling to act. Currently, umpires are only allowed to inspect a pitcher at the request of the opposing team. Because a majority of pitchers are doctoring their baseballs, teams rarely request an inspection as it would reveal cheating on both sides.
Now that this “secret” has come to light by the press, Major League Baseball will be changing their policy next week. Umpires will be responsible to inspect pitchers who they suspect are cheating. With this new enforcement, any pitcher caught with a foreign substance will be suspended—with pay—for ten games. In addition, any position player who is caught putting a foreign substance on the ball will also receive the 10-game suspension. The true penalty is, any team that has a player suspended for use of a foreign substance will not be able to replace that player on the roster. The team will have to play ten games short a player.
Why does Major League Baseball only attempt to address a problem within the game when it is brought into the public eye?
Everyone in baseball knew the extent of players using steroids during the steroid era. You’d think Major League Baseball would want to nip another scandal in the bud. We watched MLB players go on strike, year after year, during the 80’s and early 90’s which decreased interest in the game. Today, it’s pitchers doctoring baseballs, and again everyone in the game knows about it. Only now that it’s in the press does Major League Baseball acknowledge the problem.
Major League Baseball continues to fail to protect the integrity of the game, taking for granted the love and loyalty of their fans. We don’t see this in other sports because they understand the sport itself (and league) are bigger than any individual or team. Baseball seems to accept the belief of “do anything you can to win, regardless of the rules.” Come on Major League Baseball, stop turning a blind eye, and find some integrity to save your game.