MLB Week in Review (May 22-28)

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The MLB has run into another problem as of late with more pitchers being caught using foreign substances.

It is not PEDs that the MLB is concerned about but rather substances that pitchers are using to gain a better grip.

As the summer comes on and games are played with increasing heat pitchers may find it tougher to grip the ball.

The sweat that they deal with every game can make it hard for a pitcher to get a good grip and spin the ball properly.

So much like the steroid era players are trying to find ways to gain an advantage and that often leads to illegal practices.

For the pitchers it means that they somehow find a substance, usually a substance like pine tar, to gain a little extra grip on the ball.

Whether they put some pine tar on their necks or arms or anywhere else the goal is to be able to add some pine tar to the fingers in order to gain better grip.

With a better grip pitchers can put more spin on a ball and make the ball move even more. As everyone knows movement plus speed on a pitch equals a lot of strikeouts.

These tactics are illegal though as there are obviously no foreign substances allowed for pitchers.

The only thing that pitchers are allowed to use is resin in the resin bag on the mound that dries out the hand to provide a normal grip.

The use of these foreign substances has increased as of late, or at least the MLB is now catching pitchers, as the last few years have seen multiple pitchers either strongly suspected of using something or being found.

This past week highlighted the issue when not one but two pitchers were suspended for using foreign substances to earn a better grip.

The first was Will Smith who was caught with a foreign substance on his arm against the Atlanta Braves and was thrown out of the game. Smith received an eight-game suspension from the MLB.

Then the Orioles Brian Matusz was caught with a foreign substance on his arm and also kicked out of the game while receiving and eight-game suspension as well.

baseball-sidebarBoth pitchers have appealed their suspensions which leads to a much bigger issue in the baseball world.

The fact that both are appealing means they believe they didn’t do anything wrong and in reality they might be right.

It is widely believed that most pitchers use something and have for a long time to gain an advantage against batters.

Known as a spitball a pitch using a foreign substance, like spit or petroleum jelly as well as pine tar, this tactic has been used time and time again.

Gaylord Perry was famous for his spitball and currently it is almost an understood aspect of the game that every pitcher uses something.

Most batters understand that pitchers will use a substance and yet very rarely do pitchers get caught and suspended.

Even last year when it was clear that Michael Pineda had pine tar on his neck against the Blue Jays nothing was done, that was until he did it again in Boston and received a ten-game suspension.

Managers are even weighing in saying that this practice should be almost like the dirty little secret of the MLB.

Joe Girardi and John Farrell have both claimed that the league should simply allow the use of a substance to gain an extra grip on the ball.

Much of the league agrees as the league is now under pressure to loosen their grip on the rule. It is a dangerous road to travel on though as the MLB should keep its eye on this trend and catch anyone stupid enough to get caught.

Gaining an extra grip on the ball is gaining a competitive advantage and much like other forms of cheating it allows pitchers to gain a leg up on the batters in an era where offence is down.

If the MLB wants to continue their fight against the second dead ball era allowing pitchers to gain an advantage with anything but their own talents and training is not the way to go.

It is simply cheating and if pitchers are going to rub it in the face of the league by making it obvious then the league will fight back with suspensions.

Extra Innings
(More on this week in baseball)

Return of the Expos?
Montreal has been demanding a team since the Expos left and the other Canadian team in Toronto has shown the capability with pre-season games in Olympic Stadium that have opened the mind of Rob Manfred who will meet with the mayor of Montreal next week

Uribe leaving LA
The Dodgers were hoping that Juan Uribe was going to show the agelessness of 2014 but he didn’t and so the Dodgers traded him in a deal that was hard to get done sending Uribe to the Braves along with Chris Withrow to the Braves for Alberto Callaspo and three others

Wright’s Diagnosis
David Wright has long been one of the best hitters in baseball but injuries have kept him sidelined and now the league knows why as he was diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis, a disease that narrows the joint space in the back and closes in on the spinal nerve and cause back pain

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Key Series:
Kansas City Royals 2 – 1 St. Louis Cardinals
– They are the two best teams in the league and could be facing off in November for the World Series if they can keep their season’s going and if it was a preview of the World Series the Royals gained the upper hand winning two of the three games

Texas Rangers 3 – 0 New York Yankees
– The Rangers have not been the powerhouse they were used to only a few years ago but that didn’t stop them from making a comeback against one of the better teams in the league as they swept the Yankees in the weekend series

Washington Nationals 2 – 1 Chicago Cubs
– The Nats and the Cubs have been popular picks to win it all this year as they faced off in a three game series that the Nats took leaving the Cubs reeling after an up and down start throughout the first two months

Detroit Tigers 2 – 1 Oakland Athletics
– The Tigers are having a hard time keeping up with the Royals this year in the Central but they took on the A’s in hopes of gaining on the Central division and did just that as the A’s continue to struggle after being one of the best in the league over the last few years

Upcoming Series:
Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago Cubs [May 29/30/31]
– The Royals were a great story last year and have continued it into this year while the Cubs are looking to be that great story this year as the two teams face off with the Royals looking to hold a division lead and the Cubs trying to get back into a division lead

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals [May 29/30/31]
– Two of the league’s most storied franchises face-off and both are having great years as they sit at the top of their divisions and now go into a weekend series trying to prove who should stand atop the National League

New York Yankees vs. Seattle Mariners [June 1/2/3]
– Two coasts collide as the AL East leading Yankees take on the AL West Mariners as Seattle charges up through the rankings showing their potential and trying to beat the Yankees to earn their way up the West standings

Minnesota Twins vs. Boston Red Sox [June 1/2/3/4]
– The Twins have surprised everyone over the last few weeks rising up to compete at the top of the Central division along with the Royals and now they try to continue their run taking on the Red Sox at Fenway

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