Umpires at Wednesday’s Athletics-Los Angeles Dodgers game reportedly removed a ball from the field, ostensibly for inspection, following Trevor Bauer’s first inning of work.
A’s radio announcer Vince Cotroneo shared the news during Wednesday’s contest, which ended in a 4-3 A’s win on Mitch Moreland’s walk-off single.
If nothing else, the optics of this situation are interesting. Bauer, the prized Dodgers righty, has publicly challenged MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred repeatedly throughout the years.
On March 24, MLB reportedly issued a memo in an attempt to enforce the ban of foreign substances on baseballs.
A day later, Bauer shared a YouTube video voicing his discontent with the league’s memo. It’s a lengthy take on the three-part memo, but Bauer specifically discussed the idea of balls being removed for inspection regularly by the league during the 2021 season.
“It’s only illegal for pitchers to have ‘foreign substance’ on their person, their body or whatever,” Bauer said. “It’s not illegal for a catcher or his chest protector, as you’ve seen. It’s not illegal for a third baseman to have it on his glove or a center fielder to have it on his glove -- so far as I know, maybe there’s a rule change or some language -- as far as I know the rules of baseball, it is legal for those guys to have stuff on their glove.
“My question is, if I throw a pitch and it gets thrown out and then gets tested and has a foreign substance on it, how do they know it came from me and not from the catcher’s glove or the third baseman’s glove? Or on a foul ball, what if it happened to hit the handle of a bat where a hitter has pine tar or whatever other substance he wants, which is completely legal so long as it doesn’t too far up the bat.”
After the game, A’s manager Bob Melvin couldn’t confirm if the ball was inspected, but offered some more insight on the league’s decision to monitor balls this season.
“This year they’re looking at baseballs to maybe take stock and do something uniform down the road, as far as what substance can be used,” Melvin said.
Again, the optics are interesting.
Bauer has been so outspoken and his spin rate was a big point of speculation last year as it rose to crazy levels during his 2020 National League Cy Young campaign with the Reds.
Also, maybe ball inspections have happened several times already this year at A's games, but no one tweeted about it since Bauer wasn’t on the mound.
Baseball is full of unwritten rules.
One of them: Every team’s pitching staff probably doctors the ball a little bit. But no manager wants to call out the other team, because his guys do it, too. See no evil, hear no evil type of deal.
But with the rule change, perhaps this is the kind of thing baseball fans can get used to seeing this year.
It will be worth monitoring to see if anything comes of the possible ball inspection. By no means should Bauer be implicated for any wrongdoing. But it’s worth noting that retroactive discipline was another talking point for Bauer.
“They’re going to, after the game, be able to go back and if you tested positive -- or if your baseball tested positive for a foreign substance -- they’re going to be able to suspend you or discipline you or whatever the case may be,” Bauer said in the video. “I have a problem with that.”