If you haven’t been paying attention, Joe Girardi had apparently decided to set the next welterweight fight between him and Max Scherzer in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. MLB is cracking down on sticky substances, and it is already opening up a waist deep can of worms.
If a position player is found to apply sticky stuff to the baseball, they and the pitcher will be ejected and automatically suspended. … But position players found with a foreign substance on their glove or uniform will not be ejected unless the umpire determines they applied it to the baseball to help their pitcher.
In effect, this rule is meant to crack down on any cheating that’s happening in a game. I guess they’re trying to learn from their lack of trash can security guards in the past few years. But the absurdity of this rule is what’s actually coming to fruition. Major League Baseball has kicked open the door for managers to put their mark on the game, and cause headaches for opposing pitchers and fans of the improved pace of play alike.
MLB umpires are now auditioning to be TSA agents. On Monday, umpires checked under Jake deGrom’s belt, drawing interesting reactions from social media, and a hilarious comment from Keith Hernandez.
However, in day two of increased checks, Phillies manager Joe Girardi seems to be stuck on Max Scherzer. As expected, umps checked Scherzer between innings, which he seemed none too pleased about.
The guy gets off the 10 day DL and his blood pressure may wish he didn’t have to step out onto the mound in Philadelphia. But then he’s checked again coming off the mound after the third inning.
Enter Joe Girardi
After Andrew McCutchen reached base on an error and Alec Bohm struck out swinging, Girardi asked home plate umpire Tim Timmons to check Scherzer. For sticky substances. Again. And this is where things get interesting.
If Girardi wasn’t already one of the most punchable guys in baseball, he certainly cemented his standing high on that list at this moment. Scherzer was so irate that he nearly pulled his pants off to let the umpires do a cavity search. After getting out of the inning unscathed (by runs), Max stared down ol’ Joe, causing Philly’s manager to emerge from the dugout asking for a fight.
Part of me wishes they’d have allowed it to happen. This is day two of the sticky substance crackdown and we’re already being hit with tomfoolery from managers. Many more could join in on these antics, and you’ll start to see pitchers’ patience wear thin. Baseball is trending in the wrong direction, and Major League Baseball’s insistence on putting its eggs in the wrong baskets is only going to drive more people away from the game.
How long before there’s a crackdown on the crackdown? Who can say? What I do know is MLB can’t let managers bait pitchers like this. And they need to come to that realization quickly. If they don’t, this whole sport could go sour.
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