Cardinals’ Mike Shildt speaks out on “baseball’s dirty little secret”

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manager Mike Shildt (8) comes to the mound to relieve starting pitcher Johan Oviedo (59) during the third inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
manager Mike Shildt (8) comes to the mound to relieve starting pitcher Johan Oviedo (59) during the third inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /
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St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt becomes latest voice to raise issue with Major League Baseball’s sticky substance problem.

When umpire Joe West approached Giovanny Gallegos on Wednesday afternoon, telling the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher to switch hats due to sunscreen being on the bill, manager Mike Shildt immediately defended Gallegos. He yelled profanities at West, prompting a quick ejection.

After the game, Shildt unleashed on the current state of baseball, saying that Gallegos was singled out when there are clear — and much more obvious — forms of cheating happening across the game.

“This is baseball’s dirty little secret, and it’s the wrong time and the wrong arena to expose it,” Shildt said, via ESPN. “First of all, Gio wears the same hat all year. Hats accrue dirt. Hats accrue substances. … Did Gio have some sunscreen at some point in his career to make sure he doesn’t get some kind of melanoma? Possibly. Does he use rosin to help out? Possibly. Are these things that baseball really wants to crack down on? No.”

Shildt, who admitted that he is likely going to be fined for his comments, became the strongest and most prominent voice to speak out about the sticky substances that pitchers are using this year. Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto was the first star player to express his concerns on the record. But Shildt’s decision to storm the mound and confront West had everything to do with MLB deciding when to enforce policies, and when not to.

West had Gallegos switch to a new hat, and it had little impact on his performance on the mound, which added to the Cardinals’ frustration. Eno Sarris of The Athletic said that Gallegos’ four-seam fastball spin rate was down 30 RPM after he changed his hat, which would have little-to-no impact on his performance on the mound.

There are much more obvious, and effective, cases of cheating going on in MLB. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer had multiple baseball’s sent to the league after a start against the Oakland A’s earlier this season, though the results were never made public. But the problem lies with the increased use of advanced grip substances and Wednesday’s game underscored the precedent that MLB has set, as Katie Woo of The Athletic wrote, leaves a lot of room open for interpretation.

Next. St. Louis Cardinals: Here’s the outlook on Edmundo Sosa. dark

Shildt was the latest voice to raise issues with it and put it in MLB’s hands to enforce it. But if the league and umpires have no idea what they’re looking for, how can they do something about it?

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