Hector Santiago recently became the first MLB pitcher to be ejected/suspended as a result of the new foreign substance crackdown. Umpires have been randomly checking if pitchers have any sticky stuff on their person, which has caused some absurd moments when guys like Max Scherzer and Sergio Romo decided to drop their pants in protest. Apart from a few pitchers getting upset though, there have been no hiccups with these random checks.
Until Santiago was tossed from yesterday’s Mariners-White Sox game.
Hector Santiago maintains his innocence. According to the Mariners reliever, all he had inside his glove was rosin, a legal substance available to all pitchers. Rosin can get tacky when it’s mixed with other things, like sweat or sunscreen (also both legal). But nevertheless, rosin is allowed.
This wasn’t good enough for the umpires, however. They examined Santiago’s glove, felt there was something sticky on the inside, and tossed him. He will now be suspended for 10 games, which probably amounts to about three appearances for him. This isn’t nothing, as both the Mariners and Santiago have been solid this season.
Something is Wrong Here
Either Santiago is lying or the umpires fucked up. My guess is that the umpires fucked up. Santiago knew there was a decent chance he’d get checked, and when you watch the replay, he doesn’t seem overly concerned about it. Would a guy who knows he’s cheating act like that? Doubtful. It seems the umpires just didn’t acknowledge that it was rosin in Santiago’s glove and erred on the side of caution. They assumed the worst.
This is a bad precedent. The regulations in place are not strictly designed to prevent any sticky substance. They are designed to prevent foreign, illegal substances from creating that stickiness. It is not illegal to use sticky stuff to get a better grip on the ball; as long as the stuff you use is legal, like the aforementioned rosin, sunscreen, sweat mixture. Santiago, if he’s telling the truth, used legal substances. The umpires just weren’t prepared to judge them correctly.
What to do?
What can be done? Well, I think they need to employ someone other than umpires to check the pitcher. Someone who has an advanced knowledge of these substances and tools with which to judge them at his disposal. This person should be able to point them out without speculating. Umpires aren’t experts in this field, no pun intended, even if MLB has likely given them a crash course.
I’m sure Santiago’s glove will be sent to a lab for testing. If it turns out he isn’t lying and the stuff in his glove was comprised of legal substances, shit needs to change, and fast. I’m all for policing the use of the sticky stuff, but pitchers can’t be getting wrongfully ejected and suspended.
Max Scherzer might run around the field naked if that happens to him.