Sticky Baseballs: The Physics of Major League Baseball’s Latest Scandal

Close-up of a baseball mitt and ball

Cheating in baseball is as old as the game itself, and pitchers’ modifying the ball’s surface is part of that long history. Adding to the lore of cheating is a new scandal involving pitchers who may be applying sticky substances – what players refer to as “sticky stuff” – to baseballs.

Major League hitters are striking out this season nearly one in every four times they step to the plate, compared with one in six times in 2005.

As a sports physicist and longtime baseball fan, I’ve been intrigued by news reports that applying sticky substances to balls can make pitches spin faster. And if pitchers can throw their fastballs, curveballs and sliders with more spin than in previous years, their pitches will be tougher to hit. How does science explain all this?

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‘Reeks Of Hypocrisy’: Rubio Calls Out MLB over Deal with Chinese Media Conglomerate

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio accused Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred of hypocrisy on Monday over the league’s relationship with a Chinese media conglomerate that has backed Beijing’s opposition to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

“Since Major League Baseball now appears eager to use its ‘platform’ to demonstrate ‘unwavering support’ for fundamental human rights, will you cease your relationship with the Chinese Government?” Rubio wrote in a letter on Monday to Manfred.

The Republican accused Manfred of “woke corporate virtue signaling” for pulling this year’s All-Star game out of Atlanta in protest over a Georgia voting bill passed last month.

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Commentary: Baseball Season, Our Distorted View of COVID-19, and What the Facts Tell Us

If you’re not convinced that Americans have been sold a distorted view of COVID-19 risk, consider Major League Baseball.

Most of the league’s players are among the 46 million Americans between ages 25 and 34. A total of 992 people in this age group have died with COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a mortality rate of 2 per 100,000.

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