The new Major League Baseball rule has already popped up at least one superstar player.
Under the rule, umpires check each pitching pitcher at least once per game for the presence of sticky substances used to touch up baseball.
And Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer – three-time Cy Young winner – didn’t seem thrilled when it was his turn:
ESPN notes that umps will inspect hats, gloves and belts during these routine checks, but they may also look elsewhere if they have reason to suspect.
Opposing managers can also ask umps to control the pitcher, and Phillies manager Joe Girardi took advantage of this later in the game to request another exam in the middle of an inning.
A clearly frustrated Scherzer threw his glove, cap, and unbuttoned his pants as the referees approached in what looked like the beginning of a mock striptease:
Scherzer had eight strikeouts in five working innings.
While pitchers have long used sticky substances to grab the ball, newer players have reportedly used much stickier compounds which according to MLB changed the nature of the game and gave them an unfair advantage.
“This should be the biggest scandal in sports,” an unnamed Major League team executive told Sports Illustrated in his lengthy report on manipulated baseballs.
Under the new rule, pitchers caught cheating will be suspended for 10 games.
Baseball America notes that this season has seen more strikeouts, fewer balls in play and “some of the lowest batting averages in history”.
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