20 April, 2023
After what looked to be a violation of Major League Baseball’s rules against sticky substances, Max Scherzer was dismissed from Wednesday’s game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers before the fourth inning.
The action started in the top of the third inning, when first base umpire Phil Cuzzi conducted a drug test on Scherzer. Towards the end of the inning, Cuzzi told him to switch gloves.
Nevertheless, Scherzer was removed before the fourth inning following a heated confrontation with the umpires during a routine inspection of his hands and glove.
Jimmy Yacabonis, a reliever, came in to replace the experienced right-hander.
If Scherzer is caught taking prohibited substances, he will be suspended for 10 games. He might file a grievance against the disciplinary action.
Scherzer, according to SNY field reporter Steve Gelbs, was yelling “It’s only rosin” at the umpires many times before he was ejected. Pitchers in Major League Baseball are given a rosin bag as a legal way to increase their pitch grip, but it has long been known that mixing rosin with sunscreen or perspiration creates a sticky material that may be used in a pinch. Scherzer is fully cognizant of this fact.
After three innings, Scherzer has three strikeouts, two walks, and one hit allowed while holding the opposition scoreless. After giving up the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly by David Peralta in the bottom of the third, Yacabonis was able to get the Mets back in the game thanks to a two-run homer by Brandon Nimmo in the top of the fifth.
Gelbs claims that the Mets’ dugout yelled, “Do it for Max!” many times as Nimmo sprinted home. After a close game, the Mets came out on top, 5-3.
“He said my hand is too sticky. I said, ‘I swear on my kids’ lives, I’m not using anything else. This is sweat and rosin. Sweat and rosin.’ I keep saying it over and over, and they touch my hand, they say it’s sticky. I say, ‘Yes, it is, because it’s sweat and rosin.’ And they say it’s too sticky. They threw me out because of that.”
“MLB standards and rules enforcement should mandate and require an objective verifiable standard. If you want to attack the integrity of the competition you need clear precise standards, else you damage the game and its players. The Cuzzi on field spectrometer is not the answer. MLB needs to employ available scientific methods (not subjective) to create verifiable certainty of its rules.”
Scherzer went on to say that after the third inning dispute, he washed his hand with alcohol in front of an MLB official, argued that he’d have to be “an absolute idiot” to use anything in the fourth inning because he knew he was going to be checked, and promised Yacabonis a steak dinner for filling in.
Meanwhile, Scott Boras, Scherzer’s agent, sent a statement to Joel Sherman of the New York Post demanding uniform application of the rules:
“The level of stickiness on his hand was much worse than it was even in the initial inspection that had taken place two innings prior … this was the stickiest that it has been since I’ve been inspecting hands, which now goes back three seasons.
All three ejections for using a sticky material since MLB’s crackdown have been due to Cuzzi, according to The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan.
The umpire responds to Max Scherzer’s assertions.
When chatting with a pool reporter, crew chief Dan Bellino defended Scherzer, claiming the umpires had never seen a stickier hand.
“It was so sticky that when we touched his hand, our fingers were sticking to his hand. And whatever was on there remained on our fingers [for a couple of innings] … It was far more than we had ever seen before on a pitcher in live action.”
Scherzer’s dramatic dismissal brings us back to 2021, when MLB first began checking players for banned drugs with obligatory umpire screenings. As Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi asked for a check on Scherzer three times in four innings, Scherzer reacted by taking off his helmet and belt and yelling at Girardi.