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I'm Gonna Let You Guys In On A Little "Secret" About How Pitchers Are Currently Cheating In Baseball

Last night, Joe Musgrove was absolutely cruising against the Mets. Sheer dominance. 

Then out of nowhere, he was checked by umpires for "sticky" substances at the request of Mets' manager Buck Showalter: 

This was because there was a noticeable increase in Musgrove's spin rates last night from his season averages:

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Coaches and dugouts have access to all of this data in real time. Seeing these spikes in spin rates made Buck raise an eyebrow as early as the first inning:

Nothing came of it though, other than Showalter kinda/sorta looking like a sore loser from my unbiased perspective. Even he kinda admitted as much himself:

“I’m charged with doing what’s best for the New York Mets, and if it makes—however it might make me look, or whatever, I’m gonna do that every time and live with the consequences,” he said. “I’m not here to not hurt somebody’s feelings. I’m gonna do whatever’s best for our players and the New York Mets. I felt like that was best for us right now. Pretty obvious reasons why it was necessary.”

I buy it 100%. If Buck thought Musgrove was cheating, he did the right thing. 

Here's the worst kept secret in baseball though - most pitchers are still gaming the system in order to amplify their "shit". It's just how baseball goes. So long as the baseball is played, players will try to game the system. It's a tale as old as time. 

Though nothing happened to Musgrove last night in terms of ejections, etc., his ears did look a little suspicious:

If this isn't an "oh shit, I'm fucked" face, I don't know what is. Musgrove looked VERY nervous when he was being checked last night:

At least he did to my unbiased eye. And when I say unbiased, I really mean it. I didn't give a shit who won that game last night. No money on it or no rooting interest other than wanting an entertaining baseball game to watch.

But I'd bet he was doing something fishy. You don't see those sort of spikes in spin rate otherwise. 

I'll explain what I think went down. 

In years prior, pitchers were using spider tack to amplify spin rates. I know how much spider tack affects spin rates and command because I tried it myself about a year ago at Northwestern:

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Those spin rate numbers on flat, lifeless 80MPH fastballs speak for themselves. They're big league quality. Once you get used to the ball feeling like it's velcro'd to your fingers, it feels INCREDIBLE coming out of your hands. Just need to sort of find the release again. But once you do it feels great, and it's obvious why every pitcher loved the shit and every hitter loathed it. 

To get into the science of it, spider tack made the spin on 4 seam fastballs so goddamn tight that there was hardly any drop at all on fastballs as they traveled towards the plate. Gravity just couldn't take hold as easily as it could with non-spider tack fastballs. With the advent of upper cut swings and hitters striving for ideal launch angles when making contact, hitters were now swinging through fastballs because their bat paths no longer matched up with baseballs traveling in basically a straight line. Sinkers then sorta became a thing of the past because they sank right into bat upper cut bat paths and were getting hit to the moon. Go ahead, try hitting an elevated 98MPH fastball that doesn't drop and has a perceived velocity of 102? Unless a hitter was looking to beat the ball into the ground, which none were, he was probably not making any contact. 

Spider tack ain't around anymore though. Too easy to sniff out, and though it was always illegal, pitchers were all guilty of using it until the league decided they were going to crack down on it mid-season in 2021. That's why you saw K rates normalize again after the crack down. But, as they say, "if there's a will, there's a way". 

Like I said, so long as baseball is around, players will find ways to cheat and/or game the system and/or find loopholes in rules. It used to be in the form of throwing games for bookies. Then it advanced to greenies and other amphetamines. Then it advanced to steroids. Then it advanced to sign stealing via technology. Then it advanced to using a little can of sticky shit any asshole can buy off Amazon for $15.

And now….

DRUM ROLL PLEASE!!!

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Pitchers are using sun screen to juice up their spin rates. Yes, sun screen. SPF whatever SUN SCREEN!!! 

"But WSD, wtf? Sun screen isn't sticky, it's slippery as fuck you fat ape!!!" 

You're correct. Sun screen isn't sticky. Not at all. 

"Ummmm okay, but that doesn't help them with spin rates since it's slippery, not sticky!! If anything it hurts spin rates you fat ogre!!!" 

Sun screen is only half the equation though. The key words in the above sentence are "on its own".  Sun screen alone is not sticky. It's oily and wet and gross. 

But when you combine sun screen with rosin, another 100% readily available substance?

You now have a substance that is sticky as FUCK. There's nothing umpires do about it though, due to the sun screen not being a sticky agent on its own. They turn a blind eye. At least for now they do. They're not tossing anyone that doesn't have blatantly sticky, blatantly dark substances on their person. That's just how it goes right now, for better or for worse. 

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I know this to be true because two people exceptionally close to MLB told me this. One of them is the same guy who told me about the Astros having their entire stadium bugged to the gills with cameras for the sole purpose of stealing signs. He told me this over a year before it became public knowledge. Check the time stamps on the tweet below and then google when the cheating scandal news dropped:

I typically hate being the "just trust me bro" guy, but I feel like the tweet above helps prove this blog to be true at least a little bit.

With that said, I could be completely incorrect in this very instance about Musgrove, though. Wouldn't put it past MLB to change the baseball AGAIN for the playoffs, as there have been spikes in spin rates across the board thus far in the playoffs:

Hmmm. Plausible, I suppose. I just can't get over how oiled up his ear looked though. 

With all of this said, I'm not trying to indict him or anything. I'm no rat. I'm just passing along some knowledge on the current state of MLB and trying to make an educated guess on what went down last night. If Musgrove was using a sun screen/ rosin cocktail like I theorize, he wasn't ever getting tossed for it and nobody should vilify anyone but Rob Manfred for letting it happen. Every pitcher should be doing it until it too has a crack down, and from what I understand, there are PLENTY that are. 

For real, if 100% of the White Sox staff isn't using a sun screen/ rosin cocktail on 100% of pitches next season, they should fold the franchise. 

I started this blog calling this "the worst kept secret in baseball" and it's true. There are articles dating back almost a decade where pitchers like Clay Buchholz are talking about the sun screen & rosin trick until that method became outdated when spider tack became a thing. I guess we're just coming full circle now, in a way. Back to basics. I would imagine that this will become a big talking point in the coming weeks and months, as it's the latest installment in the storied series called, "How MLB Players Bend And Break The Rules". In another year or two, we'll have a new chapter I'd bet. 

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Or maybe it won't become some big talking point. No idea. What I do know is that pitchers are using sun screen/rosin mixtures to create a sticky substance that amplifies their spin rates, and I would bet that's what Musgrove was doing last night. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it. 

Don't forget about what Tyler Glasnow said:

Will MLB crack down? Probably, but after it's already ran rampant in baseball, if it hasn't ran rampant already. 

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Also - Tribe are beating the Yankees and I will be in NYC to dance on their greasy graves.