Major League Baseball issued a memo to all 30 clubs on Tuesday requiring that each team follow the same process for “mudding” the baseballs, according to Jesse Rogers. The league’s decree comes after reviewing video footage of clubhouse attendants that revealed discrepancies in the operation on a team-to-by-team basis.
The “mudding” process, for those unaware, is a standard pre-game exercise that sees clubhouse attendants rub down each ball with mud that comes from a Delaware vendor, with that taking place days before the ball is to be used in a game. The goal, according to Rogers, is “to reach as much uniformity as possible for the dozens of balls used throughout major league parks every night.”
MLB‘s edict comes amid continued concerns about the consistency of the baseball’s physical properties, a worry that has plagued the league in recent years. Players have expression frustration with the perceived livelihood of the ball — that is, how well it carries off the bat — and, more recently, with the tact or grip they can achieve on the ball. The latter has become more of a topic since MLB began checking for grip-enhancing substances last season.
Over the weekend, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Michael Lorenzen blamed the baseball for a pitch that escaped his control and struck Justin Upton of the Seattle Mariners in the head.
“I don’t know what Major League Baseball is playing with these baseballs, but that fully slipped out of my hand,” Lorenzen said. “These baseballs are slick. They did get someone hurt. So that’s on Major League Baseball for sure. I don’t know what’s going on. Those baseballs are straight out of the package.”
The league’s memo also addresses how balls should be stored, including in relation to how the balls are stored and removed from the humidor. Clubhouse attendants are now required to leave the ball in their Rawlings boxes when storing them; previously, the balls were placed directly in the humidor, without the boxes.
The new policies are expected to be implemented on Wednesday, once an MLB official has had time to communicate with every team.