Pitchers Offer to Strip to Prove They're Clean

First week of baseball's cheating crackdown is awkward
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2021 8:10 PM CDT
Pitchers Offer to Strip for Cheating Inspections
New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom unbuckles his belt for umpire Ron Kulpa in the fifth inning of a game in Atlanta on Monday.   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The first two days of baseball's crackdown against pitchers putting illegal sticky substances on the ball were awkward for everyone. Jacob deGrom, the Mets' ace, was the first pitcher to be checked, the New York Times reports. He was briefly detained when heading to the dugout after the first inning Monday night. "What all do you guys need?" he asked the umpires. Glove, hat and belt, they answered. “I handed them that stuff and went along my way," deGrom said. The inspections the next night were more contentious. When Oakland reliever Sergio Romo was stopped after pitching the seventh inning, he flung his belt onto the turf and dropped his pants, per the Detroit News. The same night, Nationals starter Max Scherzer underwent an inspection in the middle of an inning, at the request of Phillies manager Joe Girardi, which didn't go over well. In fact, Girardi asked the umpires to check Scherzer at three points during the game.

Scherzer answered by unhappily throwing his cap and glove to the ground, then unbuckling his belt for the umpires, per ESPN, indicating they could look anywhere they wanted to. There was yelling between the teams. Scherzer's manager, Dave Martinez, stepped in and afterward said, "There was no sticky stuff, let's just say that." Scherzer addressed the issue after the game, saying: "I'll take off all my clothes if you want to see me. I've got nothing on me." Players and team officials traded accusations Thursday. Royals manager Mike Matheny warned other managers not to pull a Girardi on him. Zack Britton, a reliever for the Yankees, wants Major League Baseball to inspect pitchers in clubhouses, dugouts, or bullpens instead of looking down their pants on the field. "I just think the optics are just absolutely embarrassing for our game," he said. (An umpire began the crackdown weeks before it was supposed to start.)

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