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More rosin controversy as Domingo Germán falls foul of umpires, ejected

With the MLB umpires strictly enforcing rules on sticky substances this season, Domingo Germán is the latest pitcher to fall foul of the rule and get ejected.

With the MLB umpires strictly enforcing rules on sticky substances this season, Domingo Germán is the latest pitcher to fall foul of the rule and get ejected.

Just three short weeks ago, the baseball public was split into two factions. When Max Scherzer was ejected for having a sticky substance on his hand after using rosin, opinion was divided almost evenly over the issue.

Now the latest pitcher to fall foul of the belt-tightening of the MLB umpires this season is Domingo Germán. After throwing three perfect innings in the Yankees 6-3 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday, the umpire crew came together and unanimously agreed that Germán’s hand was too sticky and ejected him from the game.

This in itself could be seen as a reaction to the Scherzer incident, where only two members of the crew inspected the pitcher’s hand before ejecting him. Perhaps the umpires are covering all bases by asking all four to agree on the issue.

In a carbon copy of the Scherzer incident, however, Germán also argued that he had applied nothing more than the rosin from the bag behind the mound. When asked about a brown stain on his pants, he told the umpires that it was chewing tobacco.

Crew chief James Hoye told reporters after the game that Germán’s hand was the “stickiest I’ve ever felt,” and added it was “definitely not rosin.”

Retired pitcher David Cone famously demonstrated in a video how rosin can indeed become sticky, so Hoye’s opinion aside, it is more than possible that Germán had applied nothing more than rosin.

This may come as a surprise to fans whose only experience of baseball is in watching it from their couch, but MLB pitchers will often break out into a sweat while throwing. That is what the rosin is for, to help them grip the baseball when their hands are covered in sweat. Mix that sweat and rosin and it gets sticky, by design.

However, Tuesday’s ejection brings another question to the fore, and that is whether or not the umpires were especially gunning for Germán.

Just days before the Scherzer incident, Germán was involved in a similar situation. Facing the Minnesota Twins, Germán was allowed to wash his hands and stay in the game. Three of the umpire crew were also working that game and were faced with criticism in light of Scherzer’s ejection in identical circumstances. There is a feeling in the Yankees’ clubhouse and fandom that perhaps the umpires had Domingo in their crosshairs on Tuesday.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was clear that he feels there is something amiss, saying after the game, “They felt it was too sticky and they ran him. Obviously it’s not OK. But also we’re talking, what is the line? So it’s difficult. And obviously it raised to a level, and of course he’s been in the crosshairs a bit, but it was raised to a level that they didn’t feel was good. And ultimately, that’s Domingo’s responsibility we’re in a better position there.”

The ejection comes with an automatic 10-game suspension, and there is no word from the Yankees as to whether or not Germán will appeal. Given Scherzer’s statement that an appeal “is not winnable” because it is arbitrated by MLB themselves, it seems likely that the Yankees will just take this one on the chin. But it is a question that will not go away, with umpires extra vigilant this season, MLB will sooner rather than later need to address the elephant in the room and let us all know just how much legal rosin is too much.