Stephanie Epstein, Stephanie Kapstein, Mary Louise Kelly discussed on All Things Considered
Looking out the window from our offices in Lower Manhattan. I saw people running frantically for the train. I saw flimsy umbrellas that stood no match against the rain. It felt a little bit like New York for a second. Be safe. If you are out there, though, there's a severe thunderstorm warning in effect until 5 15 Tonight there's a flash flood warning until seven o'clock. From NPR News. It's all things considered. I'm Mary Louise Kelly and I'm Ailsa Chang. Major League Baseball has a new substance abuse problem. No, we're not talking about steroids that royal the sport a few years back. It's not enhanced players. This time. It's sticky baseballs, and unless you like watching batters strike out a bunch it's becoming a real issue. Joining us now to talk all about it via escape is Stephanie Kapstein, who reported on this for Sports Illustrated. Welcome. Thanks so much for having me well, these were being with us. So can you just explain how a stickier baseball makes a picture better? Any time you change the way the baseball behaves, it will behave differently. And so batters have watched hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of pitches over their career, and they've all behaved a certain way. If you see it at a certain point, doing something, it will likely end up in the place you expected to end up in this case, the baseball is ending up in a different place, so the more complicated answer is that it makes the ball spin faster. Which makes it move more, and that makes it much harder to hit. Okay. And the balls that you're describing in your reporting. I mean, some of them have so much sticky stuff that you could see the pictures. Fingerprints on them. Sometimes you can hear the actual rip when the picture releases the ball. What is this sticky stuff? Exactly? Yeah, People were telling me crazy stories about you can touch your palm to a baseball and lift it. Just without gripping it. It's like melt sticking. Exactly. There are a number of different kind of concoctions. The players use some of them even brew their their own. There's some they're sort of semi legal everybody they want. When the baseball comes out of the package. It's very slick, and so it's hard to get a grip. So the league wants you to have some. Wherever else you might hit a batter on the head because you don't know where the baseball is gone, So there's a little bit of a sticky substance behind the mound called rosin, and they're allowed to use that. It starts. You know, it's a slippery slope. Right? First, they realized that if you use, uh spray on sunscreen, a lot of it on your arms, you can mix that with rosin, and it gets even stick here. So that's a little bit stickier than what's allowed. But it's not a huge deal. And then on the other end of that would be a substance called Spider Tech, which is basically blue that's supposed to help Ironman lift stones and hold stones together, and it's so that stuff is so sticky. That usually you can't even if you touch your fingers together. When you have it on your hand, your fingers get glued together. You move it with rubbing alcohol. It's it's crazy. It's really sticky stuff. But the thing is, pictures have been doctoring balls almost as long as baseball itself right. Like, how is this problem? Different now than, say, the spitball, which I think has been around for what more than a century. Yes, Basically, the whole history of baseball is pitchers trying to doctor the baseball. The reason it's different now is that they have technology. And so they set up. This device called the track Man that tracks what the baseball is doing and you can apply the sunscreen rosin and you can throw and you can look at the trackman and see how many times the baseball spun while it was on its way to the plate. And then you can apply something like Spider tax. Stick your stuff and you can look at the track man and you can see just how much of a difference that made and so guys can be much more scientific and much more efficient in the way they're using it, whereas in the past You would kind of apply something and yes, and you weren't sure if it was helping. It was all based on the high test. Now they can look at it, and they have the data to tell them. This is working. Which leaves the question. What is Major league baseball going to do to stop the spread of ball doctoring? They intend, they say, to start cracking down on this suit. They've been actually collecting baseballs from every pitcher all shoes on and looking at them to see how sticky they are. I've decided it is quite a lot. And so they say that in the next couple of weeks they're going to start cracking down. They are going to empower umpires to go out there and say, Hey, I think I see something on your hat. Get the hat out of here. And if you do it again, we're going to eject not just the hat, but also the player. Part of the problem right now is that usually they rely on the opposing manager to say, Hey, could you go check that picture? But all the managers know that their players are doing it, too. So you don't really want to fall out the other team because you know that they'll come and get you next. Stephanie Epstein from Sports Illustrated. Thank you very much for joining us today. Thank you so much for having me. Superhero fans will see one of the most anticipated streaming series from Marvel when Loki debuts tomorrow on Disney. Plus, NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says the show starring marvels villainous God of Mischief is a sly examination of a bad guy who may be considering how to be better. Marvel's Loki kicks off by explaining something huge..