Bernard Goldberg: “Do some pitchers use that sticky stuff?”
Trevor Bauer: “Yea, probably like 70% of them.”
Goldberg: “How do you get it onto the field?”
Bauer: “Pitchers put it onto their glove, or onto their hat, or inside their belt buckle.”
Goldberg: “You’re not supposed to be giving up these secrets! Your fellow baseball players are not going to be happy about this!”
Bauer: “Yea well, it needs to be talked about more because it affects every single pitch and it’s a bigger advantage than steroids ever were. If you know how to manipulate it, you can make the ball do drastically different things from pitch to pitch with the same velocity.”
Goldberg: “Why don’t the managers yell at the other guy?”
Bauer: “Because all their guys are doing it too!”
On an appearance of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher Trevor Bauer, one of the most outspoken athletes in all of sports, said ’70 percent’ of MLB pitchers illegal use pine tar on their fingers while pitching in games.
Bauer famously called out Houston Astros pitchers during the 2018 season long before their sign-stealing scandal broke, when Bauer pointed that every Astros starter was having a career year. That itself wouldn’t have been the biggest anomaly ever, but Bauer also pointed to the fact that every Houston pitcher was also seeing absurdly career-highs in the spin rates of their pitches, which Bauer said was completely linked to pine tar usage.
Pine tar is illegal for pitchers to use for its obvious advantages on gripping the baseball. Bauer says the biggest red flag of a pitcher using pine tar is not the change in velocity, but the increase in spin rate, and said it’s not physically possible to just add a couple hundred RPMs to your fastball without artificial assistance.
Bauer said pitchers find pretty simple ways to carry the foreign substance out onto the field, which batters can legally use for better grip on the bat. He said pitchers simply lather their gloves, belts, and hats with the sticky syrup, and even include the touching of the specific points of adhesion in their pre wind-up and delivery.
Former New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was once infamously ejected from a game after television cameras clearly picked up visuals of the side of Pineda’s neck smothered with pine tar, as the glare of the Fenway Park stadium lights were glistening off the substance.
The Red Sox quickly called out from the dugout for the umpires to check Pineda’s neck, and after a brief examination, Pineda was ejected from the game. Pineda was suspended 10 games by Major League Baseball.
Bauer said the reason teams don't make a bigger deal about the opposing pitchers illegally using pine tar is because there is a good chance that their own pitchers are using it too. Pineda's case, however, was absurdly egregious.
Bauer himself says he doesn't use pine tar.