On Thursday (3/5), Angels beat reporter Maria Torres released an article where she shares that the Angels fired their veteran clubhouse manager Brian “Bubba” Harkins.
In this article, Torres stated that Harkins was fired for “allegedly furnishing illegal substances to put on baseballs”.
In a later article published by Mike DiGiovanna, he reveals that Harkins sold a substance dubbed “Go-Go Juice”, to opposing pitchers. The substance, described by DiGiovanna, was “a blend of rosin and pine tar”. The Angels have confirmed the firing of Harkins, but they have not given an explanation for his departure.
If you’re wondering why a pitcher would buy a substance such as pine tar, pine tar helps pitchers grab a baseball easier. This causes a thrown baseball to have a higher spin rate and allows a pitcher to retain more control over their pitches.
Harkins’ “business” was actually fairly well-known throughout MLB, although there have been no reports of how many pitchers took part in this underground market.
MLB informed teams in February that they would start cracking down on foreign substances. However, there has been a different perspective on the issue.
When asked about foreign substances, Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney had this to say: “I said most everybody is probably using it. Most everybody is getting something from somewhere, creating their own. Bullfrog and rosin. Whatever they want to do.”
Based on Heaney’s response, he seems to have a belief that pitchers using foreign substances is a fairly common practice.
Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway shared his thoughts on what would happen if pitchers stopped using foreign substances: “The percentage of hit batters would probably go up, and probably in more dangerous areas.”
When guys go in right now, it’s always dangerous, but there’s going to be more accidental, purposeful pitches in.” It would appear that simply banning foreign substances would not be in the best interest of all players, particularly for batters.
Overall, foreign substances have already heavily integrated themselves into baseball. Attempting to take them away from baseball altogether, would cause other issues within the game.
After an already upsetting offseason between investigations into the Astros and Red Sox, there’s no question that MLB would want to find a reasonable solution that would appease both the players and the fans.
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