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Rob Manfred Speaks Out On Sticky-Substance Crackdown

A closeup of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred speaks to the media prior to Game Three of the 2015 World Series between the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals at Citi Field on October 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Major League Baseball began its crackdown on unauthorized grip substances this week with in-game checks of pitchers. Although many of baseball's top pitchers have expressed their frustration at the way the league insists on conducting the inspections, commissioner Rob Manfred thinks the checks are going well just a few days in.

"My view is the first two days have gone very well," Manfred told The Athletic on Wednesday. "We've had no ejections [for foreign substances], players in general have been extremely cooperative, the inspections have taken place quickly and between innings. Frankly, the data suggests that we are making progress with respect to the issues [in spin rate] that caused us to undertake the effort in the first place."

Although Manfred seems content with the league's crackdown, pitchers around MLB have been frustrated this week. After being checked three times during Tuesday's start against the Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer dismissed questions in his postgame press conference about the in-game inspections.

"These are Manfred rules. Go ask him what he wants to do with this," Scherzer said. By the third time he was checked, the Nationals start tossed his glove and hat to the ground and unbuckled his belt, clearly annoyed by the constant inspections.

Manfred is aware of the pitchers' frustrations but maintained that MLB has been transparent about this crackdown throughout the season. Because he feels like he provided that clarity, he doesn't seem to have much sympathy for the players.

"We were really transparent from the beginning of the year that this was an issue of concern to us and that things needed to change," Manfred said. "That's why we were collecting information. We were clear in the March memo we sent out if things didn't change, there was going to be discipline. ... Around the owners meetings there was a ton of publicity around the fact that things had not changed. In fact they had gotten worse.

"I just don't see any secret about where this was headed and I know for a fact there was plenty of opportunity for input in the process."

We're just four days into the random checks, meaning that more players will end up annoyed with the inspections in the coming weeks. Much of that frustration will be directed at the MLB commissioner, so he needs to be prepared to answer questions on the matter for the rest of the year. [

Everyone kept asking, 'What is Rob Manfred thinking about this debacle?'

So I asked him. Exclusive to @TheAthletic:

— Britt Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) June 23, 2021

">Britt Ghiroli]