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The MLB has begun cracking down with suspensions and further punishments for any pitchers caught using Spider Tack and other illegal substances.
If you’ve been following along with MLB news recently, you’ve probably heard the term Spider Tack.
It’s a sticky, almost wax-like substance which was originally created by a by a professional powerlifter to enhance his grip when weight lifting. The product has recently found its way into major-league clubhouses and has been mixed and cut down with other substances to provide a better grip and increase a pitcher’s ability to amplify their spin rates on various pitches.
MLB news: What is spider tack, and why is it banned?
It can be concealed rather easily, sometimes on a player’s hat bill, inside their glove, jersey, etc. If you watch a baseball game from any time before these crackdowns, you can pay close attention and see a pitcher reaching around for wherever the substance is before a pitch.
It’s not uncommon; this is a practice that’s been around for decades. The only difference in recent years is the pitcher’s becoming better athletes than in year’s past, and now the substances have evolved from simple things like pine tar to using Spider Tack. There have been an alarming number of no-hitters through two and half months, and the increased spin rates are at an all-time high.
According to MLB Statcast Data, “Fastball spin rates averaged 2,306-2,329 revolutions per minute each week from the start of the season though June 5.”
The pressure has been put on commissioner Rob Manfred and his committee to do something regarding this, and after issuing warnings about further investigations on March 23, the league has decided to crack down.
“After an extensive process of repeated warnings without effect, gathering information from current and former players and others across the sport, two months of comprehensive data collection, listening to our fans and thoughtful deliberation, I have determined that new enforcement of foreign substances is needed to level the playing field,” commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
Rosin bags will be the only available option for pitchers, who will be ejected and suspended for 10 games should they be caught during pre-meditated umpire checks some time soon.
The blowback from MLB pitchers of past and present was loud and clear. Personally, I don’t believe the use of Spider Tack and other substances is the sole reason for “lack of offensive action”, which was cited as a reason to ban the use. The slug-first and three true outcomes approach of hitters in today’s era certainly plays just as big a factor, and I reckon offensive numbers and trends won’t change regardless of this new law.
Why wasn’t this established before the season if they planned on investigating anyways? Well, that’s just another decision from Manfred and his committee that will leave fans and players stretching their heads.