Astros scandal dwarfed by MLB-wide sticky substance use

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The Houston Astros are branded as cheaters, yet most MLB pitchers are themselves cheating.

Over the past year and a half, Houston Astros players have been incessantly referred to as dirty cheaters. Opposing fans, particularly those from New York and Los Angeles, act as though Jose Altuve singlehandedly destroyed the game of baseball. Not only is that completely false, but it also glosses over what is quickly becoming MLB’s next Steroid Era.

Sports Illustrated’s latest in-depth reporting shines a light on what most people around the game already know is happening. Pitchers are illegally doctoring baseballs, using “sticky stuff” to aid their grip and increase spin on the ball. Some estimates say 80 to 90 percent of pitchers are using some illegal substance in some capacity.

Pitchers have always been permitted to use rosin so they can at least get some grip on the ball, but what’s happening today goes far beyond that. Many pitchers, teams and coaches have their own special concoctions that include things from sunscreen to pine tar. Some of these substances are approved for hitters so they don’t lose their bats during a swing, but pitchers are using them now too.

MLB is just now beginning to crack down on it, which is par for the course for this league. How the sudden enforcement of these longstanding rules prohibiting foreign substances affects the game will be interesting to watch. With offensive numbers cratering across the league, the proliferation of sticky stuff is undoubtedly the biggest cause of the lack of hitting.

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