And why MLB may want to re-examine Rule 8.02
The Miami Marlins got their first win under GM turned new manager Dan Jennings on Saturday. Jennings had been manager for six games, all losses, and this first win came under some interesting circumstances.
That’s not all that strange really except that it was a long and seemingly uneventful game until the 12th and 13th innings.
In the 12th inning Orioles’ reliever Brian Matusz became the second pitcher this week to be ejected for having a foreign substance on his arm during a game.
Will Smith of the Milwaukee Brewers was ejected earlier this week for having a combination of pine tar and sunscreen on his arm during a game against the Atlanta Braves. Major League Baseball handed Smith an eight-game suspension the next day.
Both of this instances are highly unusual because including Smith, who is appealing his suspension and appeared in the game for the Brewers Saturday, there have only been five suspensions this century where pitchers have been caught and suspended for using a foreign substance.
This is because according the the majority of players, both hitters and pitchers, the use of foreign substances – usually a combination of pine tar or rosin and sunscreen – is used by most pitchers to help them get a better grip on the ball. Hitters don’t mind because it protects them from potentially being hit if the pitcher has better control of the baseball.
The issue is usually only brought to the attention of the umpires if the substance and its use are overt and obvious.
In this case it could also be that Jennings, who as noted new at managing a ball club, wanted to show the baseball world that he can do his job and has things under control, because usually things of this nature go unnoticed or just aren’t cared about by players or managers.
Yahoo’s Jeff Passan wrote about this fact when New York Yankees’ pitcher Michael Pineda was suspended last season for using pine tar. Yahoo’s Mark Townsend expressed a similar sentiment Sunday writing,
Though illegal, opposing teams routinely dismiss it because they also prefer the pitcher to have a solid grip.
Passan had more to say on the subject Saturday via Twitter:
Glad to see the age of Performance Enhancing Sunscreen is upon us. Just make the stuff legal so we’re spared the faux morality of it all.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 24, 2015
Fact: Almost every pitcher uses something “illegal” for grip. Fact: Almost every hitter is OK w/ that. Opinion: Managers should let it go. — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 24, 2015
I happen to share this sentiment. Either managers need to let it go or MLB needs to change the rule. I describe this in depth in a previous post regarding Smith’s ejection and suspension (complete with position players’ thoughts on the matter).
Just change the rule MLB. It would make things a lot less complicated for everyone! It wouldn’t have changed the outcome of yesterdays game either.
Matusz had already retired the first two batters of the inning and Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter said he would have gone with Matusz’s replacement McFarland in the 13th inning anyway.
Both Showalter and Matusz declined to say much regarding the incident, which to most of baseball really doesn’t seem to be much of an incident anyway.