MLB standardizing ball rubbing and removal from humidors

MLB standardizes procedures for rubbing baseballs and removing them from humidors to add consistency to complaints of slippery conditions.

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is standardizing procedures for rubbing baseballs and removing them from humidors to provide more consistency in complaints of slipperiness that have followed the sticky crackdown.

MLB worked on standards throughout the season in response to player feedback, and on Tuesday sent a memorandum outlining the changes to general managers, assistant GMs and clubhouse managers. A copy of the memo, titled “Updates to Baseball Storage & Handling,” was obtained from The Associated Press.

Baseball prep scrutiny — at least 13 dozen are prepared for each game — has increased in recent years. The use of a humidor, begun by Colorado in 2002, expanded to Arizona in 2019, three more teams in 2020, then 10 total last year and all 30 this season.

MLB requires that a ball be held in a humidor for a minimum of 14 days before a game, and ball storage must be recorded by the home team’s compliance monitor on game day and then confirmed on a signed form by the clubhouse manager.

“All baseballs to be used in a given game must be mudded within three hours of all other baseballs to be used in that game and on the same day that they are used,” states in the memo. “Baseballs should not be removed from the humidor for more than two hours at any time prior to the first pitch, and if club personnel require more than two hours, baseballs should be pulled from the humidor in smaller batches.”

The memo was followed by reviewing the video of each team’s rubbing procedures.

MLB directs that “every club employee involved in the process should apply mud in a consistent manner to ensure the same ratio of mud to water is applied to every ball. Friction mud should be applied to each baseball for at least 30 seconds to ensure mud is thoroughly and evenly rubbed into the entire leather surface of the ball.”

After rubbing, balls must be placed back into Rawlings boxes with dividers in between and returned to the humidor until home team compliance monitors receive them for the game. To reduce time in the ballbags, remove balls from the humidor 15-30 minutes before scheduled start, and then no more than 96 balls at a time.

Up to 96 more balls can be removed from the humidor if required and should not be mixed with balls from the earlier bagged bundle. A bag must be cleaned with a damp cloth and then a dry cloth before use “to ensure there is no excessive residue, dust or moisture”.

Following a crackdown on the use of sticky substances as grip aids on June 21, New York Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt complained about the April baseballs and Los Angeles Angels pitcher Michael Lorenzen last weekend after a The shot he threw hit Seattle’s Justin Upton in the head.

Bassitt was furious after Mets batters were hit by pitches 19 times in their first 20 games. Mets batters were hit 50 times Tuesday to end with 117 — which would break the record of 105 set by Cincinnati last season.

Overall, however, hit batters are averaging .40 per team per game, compared to .43 last year and .46 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the highest since a record high of .47 in the year was 1899.

MLB tested sticky ball prototypes at last year’s Arizona Fall League briefly this season in the Double-A Texas and Southern Leagues.

Commissioner Rob Manfred was pleased with the impact of the crackdown on sticky substances. Speaking at last year’s All-Star Game, he called it “a step toward a return to a more entertaining form of baseball.”

“The procedure has already shown very promising effects on the game on the pitch,” he said. “Batting average, slugging percentage, all of those offensive categories have improved. Strikeouts are down, base-on-balls are down. We haven’t seen a significant increase in players being hit by pitches. These are all great advantages for us.” MLB standardizing ball rubbing and removal from humidors

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