The Los Angeles Angels fired a longtime employee for selling ball-doctoring substances to opposing teams.
A Los Angeles Times report last week detailed how Brian Harkins, the Angels’ visiting clubhouse manager, allegedly provided opposing pitchers with illegal substances that helped them have a better grip on baseballs. Harkins was fired by the Angels on Thursday.
“He is no longer working for the Angels,” team president John Carpino told the Times. “I cannot get into any more details than that.”
According to ESPN, Major League Baseball informed the Angels of the allegations against Harkins, who was with the organization for 30 years. Harkins was allegedly selling opposing pitchers Go Go Juice, a substance that blended rosin and pine tar. The Times said that Harkins’ substance was common knowledge across the MLB.
While it’s illegal to apply foreign substances to baseballs, pitchers have long used substances like pine tar and sunscreen to have better grip, control and movement on their pitches. Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer told HBO’s Real Sports that about 70 percent of pitchers use a sticky substance.
Angels pitcher Dylan Bundy said it’s primarily about improving control, as the ball has gotten slicker in recent years. The Times said it’s unclear whether or not Harkins was also providing the Angels with Go Go Juice.
“I think everybody knows that most guys are doing it,” Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney said. “It’s not a huge secret. No one thinks it’s shocking that people are using sticky stuff on their fingers.
“Most everybody is getting something from somewhere, creating their own. Bullfrog and rosin. Whatever they want to do.”
The MLB has said that it intends to curtail this practice as part of cleaning up a game that is publicly going through the sign-stealing scandal headlined by the Houston Astros. The legal pre-game process for game-used baseballs includes an attendant in the umpire’s room rubbing baseballs with New Jersey Mud in order to improve the grip.
Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway told the times that he doesn’t believe any substances will be allowed going forward.
“If I were a hitter, I’d be scared to dig into the box [in cold weather],” Callaway said of how the game would change if the MLB cracked down on 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.”
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