Major League Baseball has just announced that Baltimore Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz has received an eight-game suspension for having a foreign substance on his arm during the bottom of the 12th inning during Saturday’s game against the Miami Marlins. He has filed an appeal, however, so the discipline will be held in abeyance until the appeal process is complete.
This follows on the heels of Brewers’ pitcher Will Smith receiving an eight-game suspension for having some goo on his arm too.
And, as we noted when Smith was suspended last week, the foreign substance rule, however much sense it makes, continues to be a weird one in practice given the “everyone does it and we sort of don’t mind but don’t be so obvious about it” stance people in the game tend to take with respect to it.
The short version: it’s surprising how willing everyone is to accept the pitchers “just use it to get a better grip” justification. And that justification may very well be true. A lot of players, hitters included, say that. But I feel like we’re nowhere near as willing to give that sort of benefit to ballplayers in other cases, especially when the act in question — putting a foreign substance on a baseball — is exactly like a form of cheating as well.
One question I have is why, if the “better grip” justification is as they say, have players never, ever asked for rules changes to allow for pitchers to use sunscreen or pine tar, thereby preventing suspensions such as this one?
Oh well. The “it’s OK, everyone does this, there’s no harm but, JESUS, don’t be OBVIOUS about it” dance will continue, probably forever. Even if it doesn’t make a lick of sense.