Rodón calls out Manfred about Astros amid ‘sticky stuff' ban


Carlos Rodón sees a double standard.

The Chicago White Sox pitcher, who's having a resurgent season and has firmly planted himself in the middle of the Cy Young conversation in the American League, has some thoughts on baseball's crackdown on foreign substances, the league's effort to eliminate the use of "sticky stuff" that's increasing spin rates and making pitches nearly impossible to hit.

Rodón, talking to NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien on Tuesday, drew a comparison between the 10-game suspensions Major League Baseball will hand out to pitchers caught using any sort of foreign substance on the mound and the suspensions that weren't handed out after the league uncovered the Houston Astros' cheating scandal ahead of the 2020 season.

"It's hard to see this when you're giving out 10-game suspensions for cheating but you give the Astros no suspensions at all," Rodón said. "So if Rob Manfred can look at himself in the mirror and say, 'Hey, I'm doing the right thing,' that's fine. You can't suspend the team you actually knew was cheating during a playoff game, that's on you."

Coincidentally, however, the debate over this latest circumnavigation of the rules mirrors the debate over the Astros' sign-stealing during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. That discussion involved the near universal backing of sign-stealing by a runner on base, yet the near universal disparaging of the intricate sign-stealing system the Astros were found to have in place.

This time around, pitchers and others seem to be OK with a certain sort of substance being used and more outraged over the eye-popping spin rates generated by adhesives like Spider Tack. The argument is that the use of a substance helps pitchers keep their grip on the ball and better command where their pitches are going.

The commissioner doesn't see it that way.

"It has become clear that the use of foreign substances has generally morphed from trying to get a better grip on the ball into something else," Manfred said in announcing of the new crackdown, "an unfair competitive advantage that has created a lack of action and uneven playing field."

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow, who exited Monday night's game against the White Sox with an elbow injury, blamed that injury on baseball's foreign-substance crackdown Tuesday, saying his cessation of using rosin and sunscreen to enhance his grip led to such a drastic change in how he pitched that he got hurt attempting to make a midseason overhaul.

Rodón's comments reflected the demarcation plenty of players are bringing up between getting a grip on the ball and making the ball do unnatural things.

"For me, when you're talking about RPMs going up and getting more spin rate on a ball and balls are staying up longer and fighting gravity longer because of certain substances, yeah, then it's cheating," he said. "But using something to get a grip on something, it's hard for me to say it's cheating.

"If you've pitched with some sort of substance throughout your whole career, I think it's going to have some sort of impact. I think MLB needs to come up with some sort of substance for all the pitchers that adds tack but does not add spin or does something to certain pitches. There's got to be something universal. I think guys are going to struggle mentally with not being able to use something."

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