Use of foreign substances becoming a sticky subject for MLB


Ken Lund (Flickr)

Current Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole is a high-profile figure in the discussions about foreign substance use in MLB

James Mackey, Reporter

The use of foreign substances, or “sticky stuff” in the MLB has been going on for multiple seasons, but this year, the conversation has heated up.

New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, has had numerous videos surface revealing his use of Spider Tack, as it is called.  The videos show his fingers sticking to the bill of his hat as he appears to be casually adjusting his cap.

Josh Donaldson of the Minnesota Twins called out Cole by name regarding his use of the substance.

On June 8, Cole was asked in a press conference if he had ever used Spider Tack, after Donaldson name dropped him.  Cole hesitated — stuttering for a moment before stating, “I don’t quite know how to answer that, to be honest.”

Cole is not the only pitcher seemingly caught using a foreign substance of late.

Cleveland Indians hurler James Karinchak was seen on a broadcast rubbing the inside of his glove, where there appeared to be something very obviously shining in the lights.

For many seasons, numerous players have been asking the MLB to crack down on the use of foreign substances, but none as fervently as Trevor Bauer.

“I want to compete on a fair playing field like everyone wants to compete on a fair playing field so if they’re serious about actually doing something about the rule that’s on the books, then that’s all I’ve wanted for four years,” the Dodgers pitcher said in a postgame press conference after they lost to Atlanta following Bauer’s most recent start.

So, what exactly does Spider Tack do to the baseball, and how is it impacting the game?

Spider Tack reportedly increases spin rate on pitches such as fastballs and breaking balls, causing them to curve more and be relatively harder to hit.

According to an article published by the Wall Street Journal, “As far as foreign substances go, Spider Tack is like pine tar on steroids…In one experiment, comparing the effect of Spider Tack to sunscreen and rosin, The Athletic found that a pitcher gained more than 500 rotations per minute on his fastball using Spider Tack”.

At the beginning of the season MLB started the initiative to remove foreign substances and not look away when they were in use.  However, so far this summer, many pitchers have been seen to going to the glove or hat and seemingly rubbing their fingers on an obvious substance.

To this point, no suspensions have been issued.