Reports of the widespread use of “sticky stuff” by MLB pitchers and the resulting backlash and rule changes defined the middle of the 2021 season. Now the league is experimenting with a new, “pre-stapled baseball” at triple-A level.
The sticky substances that are applied to baseballs help pitchers grip the balls better and allow for increased spin on the field of play. At the time of the Substances crackdown earlier this year, the sport had a very unsuitable league-wide batting average of 0.236. Crime across the sport has been identified as a major potential problem, rightly or not. The MLB introduced random checks of the pitchers in the middle of the games.
However, the reaction has also been criticized. MLB started the changes in pitchers and teams basically overnight, and many players have called for the league to adopt a league-wide standard, either a substance pitchers can legally use or with a pre-tacked ball.
In August, the players were able to try out some pre-stapled ball samples, according to a report Yahoo Sports. Now it looks like the balls are ready for the next phase of experimentation in the final weeks of the triple-A baseball season. Corresponding Baseball america, a “handful” of teams will play with the new balls for the last 10 games of the year.
Pre-pinned baseballs would be new to the major leagues, but not to the sport as a whole. Pre-pinned balls are the norm in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization, and according to the Yahoo report, the balls are very popular with those who have played in these leagues.
At least some of the pitchers who have experience with these baseballs found them preferable to the current MLB ball, and the American pitchers who played at the Olympics in Japan earlier this month were even more exuberant of the pre-stapled SSK ball used there.
“It’s, I can’t say enough, the best baseball I’ve ever touched,” said Twins pitcher Joe Ryan, who played for Team USA, of the balls used in the Olympics. “We need this.”
Developing a universal pre-tack ball to support pitchers, cracking down on substances and perhaps most importantly, keeping everyone on the same page from the beginning of the 2022 season sounds like it could be a solid step forward for everyone involved.
The post-MLB, which supposedly is doing an interesting experiment on Triple-A, first appeared on The Spun.