Major League Baseball is open to a rules change to let pitchers use some sticky goo

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The baseball news cycle usually only lets us care about a thing for a week or so. Then, like 80 games happen and a new little story pops up and that first thing is forgotten about. This is probably a good thing, as it limits just how much any given story can be beaten to absolute death. Sure, we beat some pretty badly, but compare what happens in baseball to what happens in football and thank your lucky stars we don’t have several days in a row to come up with new hot takes.

A big story about three or four baseball news cycles ago was pitchers using pine tar or sunscreen. That happened when, in a short period of times, Milwaukee’s Will Smith and Baltimore’s Brian Matusz were both suspended for using foreign substances on the ball.

As many said at the time, and as they say every time a pitcher is suspended for such things, the idea is to just get a better grip, everyone does it and perhaps baseball should allow a rules change to let them do just that. Yesterday Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe had a big story up about that and in it he got a comment from Rob Manfred’s spokesman which makes it sound like he’s on board:

Commissioner Rob Manfred has said the issue is something baseball should explore.

“In the event that either the rules committee or the competition committee wishes to address this topic, we will be prepared for such a conversation,” MLB spokesman Mike Teevan said. “We are aware of the comments that managers and players have made on this issue and we will be open to determining whether there is a better solution.”

Maybe that’s encouraging. But maybe it’s just a repeat of 2014, when Rob Manfred said much the same thing about reexamining the rules. The rule remained un-reexamined then. Will it now?

We’ll see. But we can say this much. The rules, as they exist now and as they are enforced are uneven and problematic and for that reason their legitimacy is in serious question. Possibly because the rationale for using foreign substances is not as benign and uniform as people like to say it is. I feel like, for the most part, it’s truly to get that better grip everyone’s talking about. But I also feel like there is a subtle second layer to it in which, sure, sometimes there is a competitive advantage to be had with it too, which leads to making a new rule a difficult proposition.

If there continues to be inaction on this, I suspect it will be because of that.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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