MLB 2021 Scandals: Less Glue and Doping, But More Misconduct

Controversy surrounding the use of substances to improve ball grip easily tops Major League Baseball’s (MLB) list of scandals in the 2021 season, when doping penalties were lowered but penalties and misconduct investigations increased. and domestic violence, and the dreaded list of ineligible for work in baseball grew.

After ignoring the violation of rules 3.01 (“No player shall intentionally discolor or damage the ball by rubbing it with dirt, resin, paraffin, dye, sandpaper, or other foreign substance) and 6.02 (c) (forbidden for the pitcher to apply a foreign substance of any guy to the ball, either with his hand or with the glove, rubbing it on his glove, person or clothing, etc.) the commissioner’s office decided to “take the bull by the horns” last June, announcing a series of measures to eradicate the proliferation of sticky substances within the baseball pitching community.

The low averages of balls put into play, the increase in strikeouts and the inaction in a general sense, among other reasons, forced MLB to create a whole protocol of supervision and review of the pitchers, in the middle of the games, on the part of the referees.

First-time violators are expelled and receive automatic 10-game suspensions, while repeat offenders are exposed to more severe penalties.

Of course, the pitchers reacted annoyed. After all, most were trained in an environment where rubbing the ball with some substance, rather than cheating, was considered a legitimate action to improve grip and reduce stray shots and balls.

But the league’s long-standing leniency and tolerance caused sticky substances to evolve to the point of becoming illegal performance weapons.

The more powerful the glue, the more speed and movement of the throws and the less likely to get good contacts. Batting averages of .245 in 2020 and .244 in 2021 are the lowest of the major leagues in 50 years and the average strikeouts per game per team has risen consistently each year, from 6.30 in 2005 to 8.68 in recent years. two tournaments.

Although it does not portray the general behavior of baseball, the case of right-hander Gerrit Cole, the superstar with a $ 324 million contract with the New York Yankees, represents the before and after of the measure. Cole, one of the best pitchers in the game and one who was singled out for using the powerful glue “Spider Tack,” had ERAs of 1.43 and 2.18 and led the Cy Young Award race in the first two months of the season.

But since the new rule against substances came into effect, Cole deteriorated notably (4.65 in June and 4.75 in July), then settled in August (3-0, 0.51) and collapsed again in September / October (5.18), when He couldn’t last more than two innings in the wild card game against the Boston Red Sox.

A hamstring problem surely played a role in the decline of Cole’s performance (16-8, 3.23 and 243 strikeouts in 181.1 innings), who finished second in Cy Young voting, but it’s impossible to separate the element from sticky substances from The equation.

DOPING AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

According to the annual report of the Independent Agency of MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, in the 2021 season 8,436 tests were carried out to detect substances, six results were adverse and five ended in penalties of 80 games for a first violation .

Paul Campbell of the Miami Marlins and Gregory Santos of the San Francisco Giants were suspended for using stanozolol; Hector Santiago of the Seattle Mariners for testing positive for synthetic testosterone and Ramón Laureano of the Oakland Athletics for nandrolone.

Total tests and positives were the lowest in the last five years. Additionally, in 2021, 84 players received a therapeutic exemption, including 79 for “Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder.”

On the other hand, two players were punished by the commissioner’s office for violating the joint program of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

In March, Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended free-agent pitcher Sam Dyson for the entire season after an MLB investigation verified allegations a woman made on social media against the 33-year-old former pitcher.

In November, Atlanta Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna was suspended 20 games for an incident he had with his wife in the middle of the season. MLB explained that the suspension will be applied retroactively to include the last 20 games of the regular series this year, during which the Quisqueyano was out of action due to administrative absence.

Ozuna was on the disabled list recovering from a right hand injury when he was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, strangulation and a misdemeanor assault on his wife for an episode Saturday, May 29, at the couple’s home in Sandy. Springs, Georgia.

Subsequently, the 31-year-old player entered a special prejudicial program, whereby the charges against him could be dismissed. Said program was placed under supervision for six months and forced to attend anger management classes.

Since MLB and the Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) agreed to a domestic violence program in August 2015, fourteen players have been suspended by Commissioner Manfred.

However, baseball’s most publicized potential domestic violence case this year is still in court and far from resolved.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer missed the final three months of his first season of a three-year, $ 102 million contract, placed on an administrative leave (paid leave) list while facing serious charges from a woman from San Diego.

During a Los Angeles Superior Court hearing in August, the accuser said Bauer struck her in the face while they had sex, in two encounters, on the nights of April 21 and May 15. He also described other scenes of violence and sodomy. The pitcher and his lawyers maintain that everything that happened between the couple was consensual.

The district attorney’s office has not yet announced whether it will file criminal charges against Bauer, who recently opted not to get out of his contract and stay with the Dodgers in 2022, when he will earn $ 32 million. In total (2021 salary and signing bonus), Los Angeles has paid Bauer close to $ 40 million.

In short, it is not known right now how far the legal phase of the case will go, but more importantly, it is not clear if Bauer will ever pitch again with the Dodgers or with another MLB team.

THE INELIGIBLES: ALOMAR, CALLAWAY AND PORTER

MLB shook the industry in April when it reported that it was placing Puerto Rican Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar on its fearsome ineligible list after an investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct.

Alomar, who served as a consultant to the commissioner’s office, was sanctioned with the worst punishment that MLB has due to the discovery of a private investigation into an incident that occurred in 2014. An outside law firm carried out the investigation and determined that Alomar “violated MLB policies, and termination of his consultant contract and placement on the MLB Ineligible List is warranted.”

The league revealed more details about that incident, prompting the Blue Jays to also cut ties with the 12-time All-Star. Although the Cooperstown Hall of Fame and the Canadian Hall of Fame and Museum announced that they will not remove Alomar’s plaques, the scandal has thrown a bucket of mud into the legacy of one of the greatest players of all time.

A month later, Manfred put former New York Mets manager and then Los Angeles Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway on the same list after completing a sexual harassment investigation against the coach. The Angels fired him immediately.

Five women who spoke on condition of anonymity reported to The Athletic portal that they had been sexually harassed by Callaway while he was pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians (for five years until 2017), Mets manager (2018-19) and coach Angels pitching (2020).

In June, MLB imposed the same sentence on Mets general manager Jared Porter. The Mets fired Porter in January, about a month after hiring him, for sending sexually explicit and uninvited text messages and pictures to a reporter in 2016 while working for the Chicago Cubs.

Porter’s replacement, Zack Scott, was fired by the Mets after being placed on administrative leave following a drunk driving arrest in August.

The ineligible list (which prohibits the affected from working with MLB, its teams and branches and any other relationship with the league, teams and players) has existed since the birth of the commissioner’s office in 1920, but it did not receive as many new members in such a short time since the first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, expelled 12 players, including eight from the Chicago White Sox over the scandal of the sale of the 1919 World Series to gamblers.