How MLB is cracking down on pitchers who may be tampering with ball

ESPN's senior MLB insider Jeff Passan discusses the baseball controversy.
2:52 | 06/12/21

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Transcript for How MLB is cracking down on pitchers who may be tampering with ball
A look now at major league baseball and how it's cracking down on pitchers who may be tampering with the ball. Joining us this morning is ESPN's MLB insider Jeff passan. Good morning to you. Good to have you with us on a Saturday. This is like deflategate but for baseball. Break it down for us. Can you explain in simple terms what the controversy is all about? So about ten years ago major league baseball started recognizing the spin on the pitches. Pitchers understood that if you throw a fastball that has more spin on it, gravity is not going to bring it down to Earth quite as quickly. It really started messing with hitters' heads. They also understood that if you throw breaking balls or sliders with more spin, they're going to break even harder. Pitchers knew they could not increase spin naturally so they started turning to foreign such stances. They mixed together rosin and sunscreen. Got the ball a little tackier. They started going to spider tack which is rosin plus industrial adhesives. The ball started moving even more. Now we're at a point where the batting average is as low as it's been in baseball since 1968 and the MLB decided to step in. Yankee's star pitcher gerrit Cole was asked point-blank about whether he had ever used a foreign substance. Let's take a look at his reply. I don't know -- I don't know if -- I don't quite know how to answer that to be honest. All right. So what do you make of that? Yeah. I mean, he kind of answered it. Gerrit Cole is the highest paid pitcher in all of baseball at $324 million. He plays for the New York Yankees and he is someone who has seen his spin rate increase between 2017 and 2019 by 400 rpms, a significant amount. Well, it's gone down in his last two starts, not a surprise. We've heard some managers say this is baseball's dirty little secret. Some say this is the open secret we've known about for a long time. How long has this practice been going on and what action are we expecting the league to take to address this? Let's remember cheating is a tried and true part of major league baseball. Back 100 years ago, the spitball was banned because pitchers were trying to load balls up with all sorts of foreign substances then, so this is nothing new. In terms of using things like spider tack, that's a relatively new thing and baseball understood it needs to act now instead of letting it percolate for as long as it has, which is going back for years. Americans like to see home runs. We don't like it when it gets in the way of those.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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