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Gone are The Days of the 60’s and 70’s in Major League Baseball

When a baseball stuck to the chest protector of St. Louis Cardinals’ catcher, Yadier Molina on a pitch from reliever, Brett Cecil in 2017, there was obvious concern that the baseball was somehow doctored. The event was inexplicable by the entire Cardinals’ organization as well as Major League Baseball. Perhaps Penn & Teller could weigh in on this magical occurrence.  MLB has a rule that prohibits players from intentionally discoloring or damaging balls with foreign substances.  Just to reiterate, MLB regulates that the pitcher shall not, have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance. Gone are the days of the 60’s and 70’s.

Fast forward to when Philadelphia Phillies’ reliever, Austin Davis had an index card confiscated by third base umpire, Joe West during a September 1, 2018 game against the Chicago Cubs for violation of Rule 6.02 (c) (7). That’s right, an index card. No pine tar, Vaseline, saliva, superglue was attached. It was simply an index card that Davis prepared in advance with player tendencies. Nothing was attached to the hand, finger, or wrist it was a card that was kept in the back pocket of his uniform.

MLB got it right a day later when it ruled that a card or cards are legal and do not fall under the purview of Rule 6.02 (c)(7).

Some will go back to the glory days of the 60’s and 70’s and point out that pitching aces such as Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson never considered using an index card. Such a practice most likely would be considered blasphemous in that era.

Branch Rickey’s 1954 article in Life magazine outlined the mathematical side of baseball set the stage for Sabermetrics. In a league with fewer teams, fewer players and less analytics, there was probably no need for index cards.

And just like calculators were once banned from the classroom and index card should prove harmless to the game of baseball.

David. W. Unkle

Major League Baseball is at a crossroads. When you start to change one rule, a manager or players will push at another. Commissioner Rob Manfred caved here by allowing pitchers to do this. A pitcher or reliever can study the night before. They can pour over reports. They can look at video before the game. Players arrive at the ballpark hours before. When a player is in the bullpen, instead of spittin’ seeds he can look at the game and figure out who’s left and who he might face and look at the chart. He can look at the chart until the call is made. After that, he has a catcher who has the same chart and a manager and pitching coach who can visit the mound (although there’s a limit now) if they see a variation. There’s no reason to allow this and they will allow this unless it slows down the game. Trust me, as the games get more important, there is a great likelihood this will become an issue.

Denny McLain was one of the great pitchers in the game. He’s the last pitcher to win over 30 games, he won 31 in 1968. He also won the Cy Young and league MVP that season and another Cy Young the next season as well. He knows about pitching. He’s been there. Here is his feeling about pitchers today.

“The problem today with many pitchers is that they don’t have the control to get the pitches where they are trying to put them…Also, there are Basic Ways to pitch most hitters: e.g. most right-handed hitters are high ball hitters and most left-handed hitters are low ball hitters….Having good stuff also helps a lot…..having good stuff is great: having great stuff and great control is from God!”

Do the index cards make up for this? I think so.

Russ Cohen

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