The Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB) has notified its 30th team that starting with games on June 21, referees will fully enforce the official rules prohibiting the application of foreign substances to baseballs.
A bowler caught violating Rules 3.01, 6.02(c) and (d) will be expelled from the game and will be automatically suspended for 10 matches, in accordance with the provisions of said Regulations. Clubs and team coaches will also be subject to disciplinary action for failing to ensure compliance with these rules.
“After an intense process of repeated, unsuccessful warnings, gathering information from current and former players and others across the sport, two months of extensive data collection, listening to our fans, and careful thought, I have decided to implement a new policy to apply foreign substances to the ball,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. to level the playing field.
“I understand there is a history of the use of a foreign substance on the ball, but what we see today is objectively very different, with more viscous substances being used more frequently than ever before,” Manfred said. “It has become clear that the use of foreign materials in general has shifted from trying to improve ball control to something else: the search for an unfair competitive advantage that creates a lack of movement and an unequal opportunity,” he added.
“This isn’t about an individual player or club, it’s not about blaming, it’s about a collective change that changed the game and needs to be addressed. We have a responsibility to our fans and the generational talent competing on the field to eliminate this material and improve the game,” said the U.S. professional baseball chief.
The use of materials to improve ball grip has been attributed to an increase in throwing speed and a steady decrease in attack in the major tournaments. As the June 15 round approaches, the league’s major hitters are uniting to produce an average of 0.238, the second lowest on record, while the core percentage (.313) is the lowest in half a century.
An MLB statement on Tuesday confirmed that the use of materials to catch the ball did not reduce the number of strokes. As of the June 14 games, bowlers have delivered 853 balls and in the last two full seasons (2018 and 2019) have set the all-time record, with 1,922 and 1,984 respectively.
“Establishing a consistent compliance system that applies equally to all clubs and players requires a clear policy with no exceptions,” said Michael Hill, MLB’s senior vice president of field operations.
“We have learned through our research that more traditional materials can be used to gain a competitive advantage just like new materials, and it is not practical for referees to differentiate themselves in this area. The new guidelines published today will put everyone on the line. A level playing field.”