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The 2021 MLB Rule Changes Affected the League.

holding a baseball
Photo by Jose Morales on Unsplash

Baseball generates $3.66 billion in revenue, and many are arguing that despite this number, we are paying for a worse product on the field. A lot of weird things have been going on in the world of baseball this year. So, let’s take a look at how these MLB rule changes have been affecting the league. 

Did the MLB use juiced balls in 2020?

The big issue that the MLB addressed before the season was the “juiced balls.” Hitters were cranking out home runs at alarming rates, and the game was completely changing because of it. Batters were no longer going for base hits, which you could see through the difference in their launch angles at the plate. Ultimately, the MLB decided to dampen the balls to prevent exaggerated home run numbers. 

The result? A record-breaking number of seven no-hitters happened in the first half of the season. That already ties the record for no-hitters thrown in an entire season, and we still have nearly four months to go. This over-correction has been affecting the watch-ability of the games and besmirching the meaning of throwing a no-hitter in the majors. 

“Sticky stuff” rule

Commissioner Rob Manfred, not known for making smart decisions, decided to ban sticky stuff for pitchers in response. What is “sticky stuff”? It’s any substance that pitchers used while throwing the ball to improve their spin rates or velocity. Pitchers using “sticky stuff” is cheating, but there were generally allowed substances around the league. For example, it was well-known that pitchers used a mixture of rosin and sunscreen to get a better grip on the ball, but they’re no longer allowed to use it. 

Several sticky substances deserved to get banned, the main one being “Spider Tack.” But the ban had several unintended consequences. For example, pitchers are now subjected to random searches for sticky substances while on the mound. Though social media has turned it into a comedic spectacle, it has completely slowed down a game that people already thought was too slow-moving. 

On top of that, pitchers had to change the way they throw the ball mid-season. Cy Young Award contender Tyler Glasnow is expected to miss the rest of the season because he got injured changing his grip on the ball midseason. Pitchers such as the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole face massive scrutiny from fans because they are struggling to adjust. People are losing faith in their players, and players are losing their chance at a paycheck. 

A disappointing season

Let me be clear: Players should not be allowed to cheat. But the MLB making such sweeping rule changes in the middle of the season was bound to hurt the players more than help the situation. The change should have been made in the offseason. Manfred was caught making an over-correction to his other over-correction. Now, despite the MLB hauling in billions of dollars in revenue, fans are forced to watch a confusing and lower-quality product on the field for 2021.

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