When you’re asked a direct question — one that requires a simple yes or no answer — it’s normally not a great sign when you pause for more than five seconds before coming up with a stuttering non-answer.
That was the story of Gerrit Cole on Tuesday evening.
The New York Yankees ace was asked about the use of “Spider Tack” on the mound — a sticky substance allegedly being used by Major League pitchers to improve grip and increase the baseball’s spin rate. According to The Athletic, a former major league pitcher tested the substance this spring, and his spin rate increased nearly 25% after switching from a sunscreen-and-rosin mix to Spider Tack.
“I don’t [long pause] … I don’t know … I don’t quite know how to answer that, to be honest,” Cole stammered when asked if he has ever used the illegal substance. “There are customs and practices that have been passed down from older players to younger players, from the last generation of players to this generation of players, and I think there are some things that are certainly out of bounds in that regard.”
“This is important to a lot of people who love the game, including the players in this room, including fans, including teams, so if MLB wants to legislate some more stuff, that’s a conversation that we can have. Because ultimately we should all be pulling in the same direction on this.”
This response is very reminiscent of the steroid era interviews lol. Whole lot of nothing. But yeah Gerrit Cole, like MANY other pitchers in baseball, used sticky stuff. I don’t care from a moral standpoint at all tbh pic.twitter.com/Y2EesBDgLv
— Dan Rourke (@DanAlanRourke) June 8, 2021
You never want to jump to conclusions when the topic of cheating is at hand, but Cole’s answer was telling.
The conversation surrounding pitchers’ use of foreign substances in baseball isn’t new – the practice has been in use for generations. Whether sunscreen, pine tar, or vaseline, pitchers have been using substances to gain an advantage for as long as baseball has been around. It’s a tradition as old as runners on second base attempting to steal the catcher’s signs.
The reason for the recent conversation surrounding doctored baseballs stems from last week’s owners meetings, which resulted in a decision to increase enforcement against pitchers illegally using foreign substances on baseballs.
Major League Baseball wants teams to play a larger role in enforcing rules on doctoring baseballs within their own organizations. They will ask umpires to more frequently check pitchers’ caps, gloves, and uniforms for foreign substances, and they will look for increased enforcement at the minor league level.
The impending crackdown has many discussing the topic, and the Twins’ Josh Donaldson – never one to shy away from the mic — added fuel to the fire last Friday.
“If you want to clean the game up — because to me, this is going to be the next steroids of baseball ordeal, because it is cheating and it is performance-enhancing — the only way they get it through and to get it out of the game is if they get checked every half-inning,” Donaldson said on a call with reporters. “If a new pitcher comes out, they get checked immediately by the umpire. Once they start doing that, it’ll be gone, and you’re going to start seeing offense come back into the game.”
Donaldson then went on to call out Cole, whose spin rate dipped in his most recent start after a report that four minor league pitchers have been suspended this season for using an illegal foreign substance.
“Is it coincidence that Gerrit Cole’s spin rate numbers went down (Thursday) after four minor leaguers got suspended for 10 games?” Donaldson said. “Is that possible? I don’t know. Maybe. At the same time, with this situation, they’ve let guys do it.”
Thus the stuttering non-answer from Cole.
Major League Baseball is eager to remove any form of cheating from the game after the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. The increase in strikeouts and lack of offense in baseball is troubling for the league, and they’ll do whatever it takes to make the games more entertaining. Illegal substances on baseballs is the new focus.
The Yankees and Twins played the second game of their three-game series Wednesday night, with Cole getting the start. The right-hander struck out nine in six innings, as the Yankees won 9-6. Donaldson was 0-5 on the night.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to email@example.com.
The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.