Sweat – Banned MLB Substance?


A photo of Max Scherzer’s heated interaction with the umpires, credit to Fox News.

Robbie Amoia, Writer

Have you ever gotten in trouble for doing something “wrong” when you weren’t actually doing anything wrong?

For the past couple of years, Max Scherzer has been the New York Mets’ ace starting pitcher after signing with the team in 2021, prior to the 2022 season. He has been a thrill for Mets fans to watch, putting on a show almost every time he’s pitching. On April 19th, 2023 the Mets were facing the LA Dodgers at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, California, with the 38-year-old on the bump. After the second inning, the umpires performed a routine glove check and he noted that Max’s hand was “clumpy”. This stickiness was the result of a combination of rosin and sweat – it was pretty hot out. Rosin is a completely legal powder-like substance that helps pitchers get a grip on the baseball. When mixed with sweat, it can get sticky and resemble other banned substances.

As a precautionary measure, Scherzer was told to wash his hands and glove prior to the third inning. He obviously complied, and an MLB official witnessed him doing so with alcohol. Before the third inning he was checked again, his hand was clean but the pocket of his glove was still sticky. He was asked to get a new glove, and again he complied. Yet again, he was checked before the fourth inning and his glove was still sticky. Manager Buck Showalter joined Scherzer in a heated discussion with two of the umpires, with Max repeatedly yelling, “It’s sweat and rosin!” He was ejected from the game, and faced a 10-game suspension plus a $10,000 fine for use of “illegal substances”.

Scherzer had a post-game interview with the media where he was heavily questioned on the incident. He confidently maintained his stance that he was not using anything illegal, it was only sweat mixed with rosin that the MLB provided to him. Knowing he would be checked again, Scherzer said, “I’d have to be an absolute idiot to try to do anything when I’m coming back out for the fourth”. He also swore on his kids’ lives that he wasn’t using anything illegal.

Originally planning to appeal the suspension to stand up for himself, Max has now decided to accept it as he feels it would be best for the team, and undergoing the official process would be too much of a hassle. He will return on May 1st against the Atlanta Braves.