Baseball must be the only sport that will make a significant rule change, well, not a rule change but a change to how a rule is enforced, midseason.
And, beyond that, they haven’t defined how the rule should be enforced. Are all substances banned? Just Spider Tack? Can they still use rosin and sunscreen? I think most players, even batters, believe the pitchers should be allowed something to get a grip on the ball, but the tack seems to give pitchers too much of an advantage.
Everyone is talking about Gerrit Cole’s press conference. Could Cole have answered this question worse?
here's gerrit cole's response when asked point blank if he has ever used spider tack, one of the sticky substances baseball is looking to crack down on pic.twitter.com/rKFOksIDoW— Matthew Roberson (@mroberson22) June 8, 2021
I can understand Cole not realizing that this was likely to be a question. Not all players spend all their time on social media, so it is possible that he didn’t know this would come up.
But....the team’s PR people had to know. And they should have prepared him. I don’t know what the best answer would have been. Perhaps ‘I’m not talking about that.’ Or say No. Deny deny deny. Or say, ‘Yes I do, half the pitchers in the MLB use it”.
The job of PR people is to get the players ready for apparent questions.
I remember thinking this when Yunel Escobar had this press conference. Things were going well, I thought they prepared him well, and then they got to the question, ‘do you have any gay friends?’ And he booted it. Talking to a PR guy after, he said, ‘you can’t have them ready for everything.’
But, in Cole’s case, everyone much have known that this question would come up. Why not prepare him for it? I’m sure Trevor Bauer has already figured out how he’ll answer it. Likely smugly.
I guess it doesn’t matter to Cole or Bauer how they answered. They are rich already.
But, about the sudden change in how the rule is enforced: Why is it that Rob Manfred can’t seem to do anything the right way. He always wants to make the players the villains. “Look at what the players are doing that’s expressly against the rules that we wink at.”
Sometimes I’d like the sport’s commissioner to try to sell us on the sport instead of telling us how terrible the players are. I guess he is always trying to make points for the subsequent CBA negotiations. But when it was steroids that baseball ignored until they couldn’t ignore it anymore (just like the tack), baseball blamed the players.
I don’t know why baseball ignores these things. Maybe it is the dripping tap. They didn’t care about the faucet dripping, and then it drips harder and harder until it isn’t a dripping tap but a running tap.
Course, the other thing I wonder about is ‘if 50% of pitchers use this stuff, which Blue Jays do?
I’d like baseball to figure out how they want to do things. Clearly state what the rules are. Decide if it is just tack that isn’t allowed. Or if they are banning everything. But be clear about it. Be clear about what the punishment will be. And give the umpires clear instructions.
I guess the good part is that offense numbers should be going up, which will be fun.
Speaking of rules you don’t think will be enforced, did you see this:
And Bobby Witt was also called out for not touching home plate on a home run. But, in this video, he very clearly looks like he did.