Did Noah Syndergaard rub a substance onto the baseballs during Monday night’s game against the Phillies? That question is being asked after a video started spreading on Twitter that appeared to show the Mets pitcher using two fingers on the base of his glove before touching the baseball.
Was Noah Syndergaard cheating last night? What was he doing with his two fingers? pic.twitter.com/9jhwxwhkpr
— Angelo Cataldi (@AngeloCataldi) April 16, 2019
MLB’s 2019 rulebook states in section 6.02(c)(4): “The pitcher shall not apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball.” In addition, section 6.02(c)(7) says, “The pitcher shall not have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance.”
While it’s hard to see exactly what Syndergaard is doing in this video, the motion he makes with his hands is suspicious. There’s no real need to put two fingers into your glove like that and then make a scooping motion like he’s picking up a substance. But even if he did, it may not really matter.
Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes ran into this same issue during the 2018 ALCS. In a video that gathered more than 1 million views, Barnes was accused of having pine tar on his arm. He rubbed his arm, his arm looked shiny and it certainly seemed like he was using a foreign substance.
This pitcher had pine tar on his arm! Wtf?!? My uncle caught this. @espn @astros @SportsCenter @MLB pic.twitter.com/l3GX8utrto
— cody (@CodyDaeschner) October 15, 2018
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But the fallout, aside from public speculation, was minimal. Even the manager of the team Barnes was facing, Astros’ A.J. Hinch, didn’t appear to care.
“Honestly it’s not even something that’s crossed my mind,” Hinch said at the time. “There’s so much difference between doctoring a ball versus kind of what goes on nowadays. And we’re living by the rules in which we live by.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora said something similar.
“Seems like always those videos always come out in October — I wonder why. You have to ask the hitters. They like guys that can control their stuff. So I just leave it at that,” he said. “It is what it is. Everybody knows.”
Basically: Everyone knows pitchers do this, but no one really cares.
Well, at least person cares. Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer spoke with Sporting News last season about this issue. He’s done his own research and explained why foreign substances and spin rates are such a big deal. Bauer told SN the use is “pretty widespread” and called it “a fairly well-known secret.”
So, did Syndergaard put an illegal substance on his ball? Perhaps. But don’t expect much to happen because of it.