MLB is being rocked by its biggest scandal since the steroid crisis with the revelation that the sport’s recent slump in offense isn’t because of pitchers getting better, or hitters getting worse — but rather a widespread use of foreign substances on baseballs.
The response from Major League Baseball has been predictable: They’re going to crack down on the problems. Pitchers will now face random checks from umpires so ensure they’re not using sticky substances to alter the spin of the ball, and those found guilty will face repercussions.
Look, I get it, there’s a fundamental need to believe sports are about athletic achievement and purity without technology or intervention, but that’s naive. Cheating is woven into the fabric of all sports, especially baseball, and you can either put your head in the sand, pretending it doesn’t exist — or you can embrace it in smart ways that enhances the game. Which is why I’m proposing …
We need MORE foreign substances in baseball.
I don’t want tars, goos, ointments and oils hidden in gloves like some cloak and dagger operation. I want them out in the open, bold, proud, and ready to be tracked with advanced statistics. I want the ability to game-ify foreign substances in ways we’ve never seen before, with advanced statistics to support it.
The idea right now is that baseball isn’t exciting enough because there aren’t enough hits. It supports the general sports notion that scoring = viewers. However, this is tired, old thinking. The way we get around that is making the art of pitching can’t-miss television, adding excitement to every pitch with a seemingly endless array of baseball dips and coatings.
If you like the minutia of a relief pitcher’s ERA against left handed hitters while playing at home, wait until you experience the joy of tracking a knuckleballer who coats his ball in peanut butter before taking the mound. We have a new data point, and we can measure him against every other peanut butter thrower in baseball.
I want to know how August afternoon humidity in Atlanta effects a honey pitcher. Does a dome impact the split-finger fastball of a pitcher who soaked his ball in a teriyaki glaze? What happens when you throw high in the strike zone using a ball coated in hot sauce? If you soak a ball in Clark Griswold’s non-chloric, silicon-based kitchen lubricant will it burst into flames like his sled in a Walmart parking lot? I don’t have these answers, but I want them.
Not only does embracing foreign substance pitchers make defense more exciting, but it increases the greatest thing element of any sport: Randomness. Sure, throwing hard using a ball painted with WD40 might seem like a good idea, until the hitter drops and infield bunt and the ball rockets out of your glove like a bouncy ball thrown on a trampoline.
Then, with this knowledge, we can really celebrate the pitchers who pitch “naked,” or without any substances. Imagine if you dominate baseball without using any foreign substance, then when your in the playoffs you announce you’re coating the left hemisphere of the ball in grease harvested from a 7/11 hot dog roller. The sport would lose it, and give us another incredible element to talk about.
Finally, this proposal is a job creator. Yes, pitchers can coat a ball in anything they want on their own — but teams would be motivated to hire a team of physics and culinary experts to work hand-in-hand on creating concoctions perfect for their pitching staff. It’s like an equipment manager, but with more molasses and creme patisserie.
I know you probably think this is ridiculous but …
Think about all the proposals that have been made in order to transform baseball into being a more exciting TV product. Shortened innings, pitch timers, is it really that far out of the realm of possibility to suggest we just let people coat baseballs in cookie dough if they want to?
This doesn’t change the innate nature of baseball, it just enhances it. Providing opportunities to embrace the sport’s cheating-ass nature and showcasing it as a feature. More statistics to track. More jobs for people in MLB. Chances for weirdos like me to finally know if sriracha or gochujang is the superior spicy condiment for pitching purposes.
We don’t need baseball police to ruin the fun. We need to embrace it. Be molded by it, and come out the other end with a more fun, much stickier result. Join me in my quest to normalize foreign substances in baseball.