MLB Suspends Star in 'Sticky' Debate

Max Scherzer insists he used only resin before being kicked out of game
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2023 5:35 PM CDT
MLB Suspends Star in 'Sticky' Debate
Max Scherzer pitches Wednesday against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Major League Baseball's crackdown against pitchers putting illegal substances on the ball has taken the highest-paid player in the game off the field—an enforcement that apparently rests on the subtle difference between "tacky" and "sticky." Max Scherzer, a three-time winner of the Cy Young Award, has been suspended for 10 games. The Mets starter had been thrown out of a game Wednesday against the Dodgers in Los Angeles after his hands flunked an umpire's inspections. Scherzer maintained Thursday that he'd used only a legal substance, resin, the Wall Street Journal reports. "The intent of this rule was to clean up the game," Scherzer told reporters. "I don't think it was intended to crack down on pitchers that were using legal substances."

Rosin is fine to use unless it's overused, MLB told teams in a memo this spring about efforts to keep pitchers from gaining a competitive advantage. "When used excessively or otherwise misapplied (i.e., to gloves or other parts of the uniform), rosin may be determined by the umpires to be a prohibited foreign substance," the memo said, resulting in a player's ejection or suspension. Scherzer blamed the combination of resin and sweat, but even after he washed his hands at the umpire's request, Phil Cuzzi wasn't satisfied. Baseball's report hinted that something else was at play, saying "the level of stickiness during the fourth inning check was so extreme that it was inconsistent with the use of rosin and/or sweat alone."

Scherzer became the third player suspended since June 2021, when the crackdown began, per the AP. His agent, Scott Boras, objected to the "excessive" standard as subjective. "If you want to attack the integrity of the competition you need clear, precise standards," Boras said, "else you damage the game and its players."

  • Baseball history suggests Scherzer's reputation won't be tarnished, the New York Times reports.
(More Max Scherzer stories.)

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