What a sad time it is for the umpires in the major leagues. They get booed for calls that fans think they have missed. They get booed for calls that are overturned by someone in the replay studios in New York and now they get booed when they have to check a pitcher’s glove, belt and hat when he leaves the field or any other time a manager asks for them to inspect a starter.
The average number of pitchers used in a MLB game is 5. They have played approximately 225 games in the past 15 days. 5 pitchers per team times 225 equals 1125. So far they have found one, Mariners Hector Santiago who was caught with what the umpires feel was a sticky substance in his glove. He was ejected after he was already removed in a pitching change. He will be suspended and the Mariners will not be able to replace him on the roster during that suspension.
But what the commissioner of baseball has done, is another knee jerk reaction to the complaints from big league hitters who can’t hit. When they have only found one pitcher to eject from a game for cheating in the past 225 games and the offensive numbers haven’t noticeably changed, that tells you something. Like sticky stuff on a ball is not why you are not hitting.
What Mr. Manfred has also done, is put the ever so horrific thought in the minds of fans, that the game of baseball is corrupt. That there is rampant cheating throughout the game. Pitchers cheating by using sticky stuff. Hitters illegally altering bats and teams illegitimately stealing signs have been talked about by fans for years around the water cooler. But to have to see the umpires checking every pitcher makes us think of a bogus game, every inning of every game now.
Yes there is a need to police the teams and individual players. That’s life. There will always be someone who will cheat, steal and lie. Baseball will always have to put the integrity of the game first. But what they are doing now with checking every pitcher when they leave the field, is not working. It is a constant reminder that there may be something crooked with what we are watching.
From Little League baseball to the major leagues, there has been cheating. It is part of the makeup of humans. Cavemen probably used a corked club. Let’s be honest we don’t like it but will have no problem with cheating if it is being done by our team. Witness the Houston Astros’ fans who still cheer their players every game. Winning a world series by any means will do that.
Right now this pitcher inspection has to end in its present format. Maybe a baseball official can do it in the tunnel to the clubhouse after every inning. If they find something, ok, they can make an announcement. Doing it on the field makes a spectacle of it and infuriates both the fans and the players. We don’t go to games to watch the umpires and believe me, they are not happy about having to do it. Being booed for doing your job is not fun.
So how about it Mr. Commissioner, can we have a nice relaxing yet exciting day at the ballpark watching a baseball game without all the drama? Put the seams back on the baseballs and there will be no need to find something sticky to grip the ball.