ST. LOUIS — Chris Bassitt is tired of MLB’s apparent indifference to a serious and harmful problem enveloping the sport.
After three Mets got hit by pitches in their 3-0 win over the Cardinals on Tuesday night, Bassitt called out MLB for failing on multiple levels to address the dangerous issue of pitchers being unable to get a good grip on the baseballs.
“MLB has a very big problem with the baseballs,” Bassitt said. “They’re bad. Everyone knows it. Every pitcher in the league knows it. MLB doesn’t give a damn about it. They don’t care. We’ve told them our problems with them. They don’t care.”
Bassitt said the balls are “all different” from inning to inning.
“The first inning they’re decent,” he said. “The third inning, they’re bad. The fourth inning they’re OK. The fifth inning they’re bad. Then we have different climates. Everything’s different. There’s no common ground with the balls. There’s nothing the same, outing to outing. They’re bad.”
Bassitt knows first-hand what it’s like to get drilled in the face after he was hit by a 100 mph comebacker last August, which resulted in a facial fracture. The pitcher said he understands how scary getting drilled is, and he would never want to hit a batter on the face because he couldn’t get a good grip on the ball.
He said pitchers around the league have suggested “a million things” to MLB, and players have made sure their suggestions won’t hurt offensive production. The Mets pitcher said MLB “wants nothing on the ball” for offense, and there are ways to accomplish that, but the league does not want to do it. One of the recommendations pitchers have presented to MLB is a universal, legalized substance that they could all use on the balls, Bassitt said.
“Everyone’s been preaching that for, I don’t know how long,” he said. “It’s too easy of a fix to constantly see guys get hit in the head over and over and not do anything about it. How long are we going to let this happen?”
The Mets have been hit by pitches 18 times in 19 games this season, which leads the majors. Pete Alonso has been hit on his helmet twice, and Francisco Lindor has also been drilled head-high this year, resulting in a cracked tooth.
Last season, MLB banned pitchers from using a “foreign substance” on the ball in an attempt to lower their spin rates. A higher spin rate led to a higher velocity which led to decreased offense and lower batting averages. But, without any sort of sticky substance, that has seemingly led to a larger problem in gripping issues.
Mets catcher James McCann implored MLB to sit down and talk to players who are in those dangerous in-game situations to figure out a solution that works for all sides. McCann agreed that illegal substances like Spider Tack, or others meant to increase spin rate, should stay out of the game.
“Sit down with players and talk about it,” McCann said. “Sit down with players and see what players want. Don’t take opinions of people that aren’t on the mound that aren’t trying to throw it. Don’t talk to someone who’s not trying to stand in the box when a guy’s throwing 100 mph and doesn’t have a feel for the ball. That’s the answer, is to talk to the players and see what the best result is.”
McCann suggested placing a pine tar rag — similar to the ones batters use to get a better grip on their bats — and sunscreen in addition to the rosin bag already on the mound. McCann believes, much like last year when MLB decided to ban all sticky substances in-season, that the solution for pitchers to get a better grip on the ball can be accomplished during the year. The sooner, the better.
Manager Buck Showalter on Tuesday night said he was “not happy” after three more Mets got hit by pitches. Starling Marte added that “whether it’s intentional or not, it has to stop.”
“We want to talk about juiced balls, dead balls, slick balls, sticky balls,” McCann said. “I mean, it’s 2022. We should have an answer.”
Story by Deesha Thosar, New York Daily News.