Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
MLB began to enforce rules that banned the use of foreign substances on baseballs last June with the hope offense would increase with the elimination of a significant advantage pitchers had gained through increased spin rates.
It was a controversial decision due to the enforcement beginning midseason with pitchers saying it adds injury risk because of the need to grip and throw a baseball differently.
Nevertheless, MLB continued the increased enforcement despite their concerns and instructed umpires to randomly check pitchers’ hands after an inning. The immediate affect was lower spin rates across the league, but the numbers rose again near the season’s end.
MLB has now increased their efforts to enforce the rules this season, but Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is concerned the rules will be enforced somewhat arbitrarily because rosin that is provided by MLB becomes sticky when it mixes with sweat, via SportsNet LA:
“I do know that we’re using the rosin that’s being provided. And then when you mix natural sweat and rosin, it becomes tack. That’s just a fact. So then how much is too much when you’re playing by the letter of the law? I don’t know the answer, but I think that’s something that I hope we get cleaned up sooner than later because the game is based on tradition and its integrity. So to be called out — especially one of my guys — that is adhering to the rules, that’s not going to sit well with anyone.”
MLB also began experimenting to find a solution with baseballs in the Arizona Fall League coming with a approved substance already applied.
While pitchers using foreign substances has been against the rules for a while, MLB has had problems keeping consistent baseballs, which causes problems for pitchers and increases the need for extra grip.
In 2017, pitchers across the league claimed the baseballs were “juiced,” and two years later, the balls had “inconsistent seam heights” with other claims that the balls were changed during the postseason.
In 2021, it was revealed by a study the league used two different balls throughout the season including one with a lowered seams during MLB’s sticky substance ban, which both caused pitchers to have less grip on the ball.
All MLB teams using humidors in 2022
As MLB tries to figure out their problems with the baseballs, they required all stadiums to store their balls in a humidor prior to games in an effort to control some of the inconsistencies between them.
Humidors work by bringing baseballs to an average humidity, which means in a dry park, baseballs will become more humid, and thus heavier. In humid parks, however, a humidor will dry out the baseballs and make them lighter.
In 2021, 10 of the 30 teams were already using humidors throughout the season, including the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, who have both seen the biggest results from using a humidor.
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