Some baseball traditionalists believe Major League Baseball’s recent rule changes and ideas have become a bit “tacky” but a new possible change gives a new meaning to the word.
According to Yahoo Sports, MLB officials have been working with its official baseball manufacturer Rawlings to create a ball with natural adhesive in hopes that players don’t use pine tar, rosin or other foreign substances to gain additional grip.
The new baseballs, which would show up in the major leagues by 2018, will also not require the traditional pregame polish of rubbing mud.
“We think we’re close now,” Mike Thompson, a vice president at Rawlings, told Yahoo Sports. “We’re just waiting for MLB to give us the go-ahead on when they want it.”
The Arizona Fall League tested tacky balls back in November, both in workouts and two days’ worth of games. Rawlings sprayed a formula onto the ball but it often wore off too quickly.
“It requires a lot of R&D and time and testing to land where we want to be,” Thompson said. “We’ve got several formulations that are being tanned into the leather, and there’s another process where we’re spraying it on the leather. We’re trying to see which gives us the best outcome.”
In particular, MLB hopes the new ball will help enforce rules which prohibit pitchers from altering its balls — rules which have seen negligent implementation. Pitchers often wear sunscreen even on the coldest and cloudiest of days and mix it with powdered rosin to create a glue-like substance.