The slippery slope of pitchers using sticky substances is something Major League Baseball could be poised to address at some point in the near future.
In the wake of two league-imposed suspensions against pitchers who were found to have used sticky substances in order to grip the ball better, a spokesman for MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told the Boston Globe that baseball is open to a conversation on the matter.
“In the event that either the rules committee or the competition committee wishes to address this topic, we will be prepared for such a conversation,” MLB spokesman Mike Teevan said. “We are aware of the comments that managers and players have made on this issue and we will be open to determining whether there is a better solution."
According to MLB rules, foreign substances of any kind cannot be applied to baseballs. However, as the Boston Globe points out, many pitchers say they aren't using sticky substances like rosin and pine tar in an effort to gain a competitive advantage -- they simply want to have a better grip on the ball.
"It's purely just to have a good grip on the ball while you’re throwing the pitch,” Minnesota Twins pitcher Phil Hughes told the Globe. "Nobody is trying to make the ball do something. To be honest with you, I don’t know how many guys in my generation have any idea how to throw a spitball."
Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Will Smith was suspended eight games on May 22 after admitting to having a mixture of rosin and sunscreen on his arm during a game against the Atlanta Braves. Smith said he forgot to wipe the substances off his arm and hand after using them to grip the ball better while warming up in the bullpen.
Days later, Baltimore Orioles reliever Brian Matusz was also suspended eight games for having a foreign substance on his arm in a loss to the Miami Marlins.
Will the latest suspensions push baseball to re-examine the rule? Following New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda's suspension for having pine tar on his neck during a game in April 2014, then-Commissioner Bud Selig said "when the year is over, we ought to look at all this."
Manfred echoed Selig's comments at the time, saying baseball would look into the issue, but no changes were made to the 2015 rulebook.