MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Disappointed With Development Of Pre-Tacked Baseballs

In response to offensive production dropping to historic lows across the sport, MLB began to enforce its rules against the use of foreign substances on baseballs during the 2021 season.

Umpires were required to regularly conduct checks for the use of Spider Tack and other sticky substances. There was a lengthy adjustment period for pitchers, who believed such drastic changes would only cause more harm than good.

Amid complaints over the absence of a tack on baseballs, MLB experimented with multiple solutions. Among the tests was a portion of the 2021 Arizona Fall League being played with balls that had an approved substance pre-applied.

Commissioner Rob Manfred envisioned pre-tacked baseballs coming to MLB but the league hasn’t developed a good model yet, via Evan Drellich of The Athletic:

Manfred said he would grade MLB’s attempts to create a different, pre-tacked baseball as a “C-minus.”

“We thought we had a pretty good model last year, it got gummy when it got hot,” Manfred said. “We went back to the drawing board on it.”

Even if MLB is able to fix the flaws with the current prototype, they may have another problem that will need solving. A new, pre-tacked baseball would presumably be bright white, which could give an advantage to the hitters.

Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) already have a league-approved substance and use balls that are pre-coated.

The Dodgers are using MLB baseballs for their exhibition games in South Korea, while the Kiwoom Heroes and Korean National team are throwing the ball used in KBO play.

MLB rule modifications for 2024 season

As MLB works to find a solution for a potential pre-tacked baseball, there will be several modifications to rules that are going into effect during the 2024 season.

The MLB rule changes being implemented are widening the runner’s lane to first base, reducing time on the pitch clock with a runner on base, timer during pitching changes, reducing the number of mound visits allowed per game, a pitcher that warms up for an inning needing to face at least one batter, time permitted for a relief pitcher to enter, and when a pitch clock starts.

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