Casey Mize….”if the glove is gray…you must put it away!”
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Casey Mize pitched a solid first inning at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday and was quietly heading back to the Tigers dugout. Unfortunately for Mize, home plate umpire John Tumpane had a message for him, and suddenly the big news dominating MLB was thrust in the lap of the Detroit rookie.
Tumpane delivered word to Casey Mize that his gray glove was too light in color. This can be considered a distraction to hitters. However, Tumpane’s glove color opinion coincided with the announcement that MLB would have umpires cracking down on the use of tacky substances to gain an unfair advantage. Ten game suspensions are being threatened to offenders getting caught.
Mize was immediately “pissed for a couple of minutes” at the timing used by Tumpane to deliver this news. It’s important to remember the Royals weren’t asking for Mize’s equipment to be checked. This was Tumpane deciding to disrupt the game…even if just for a minute…to force Casey Mize into a glove change. Mize, for his part, remained composed on the field and, with a look of bemusement, complied by getting a glove from Kyle Funkhouser.
Mize’s main irritation is the possibility—if not “probability”—that he’d be immediately suspected of using the “sticky stuff” illegally, given the timing of MLB’s announcement and Tumpane’s decision to somewhat awkwardly address the issue on the field in full public view.
Mize ended up adding another quality start to his impressive rookie campaign and helped the Tigers beat the increasingly inept Royals on the evening. So the affair didn’t pin a loss on the Tigers. Most likely it will fade over time as the smallest of footnotes in Casey Mize’s career.
This didn’t stop Mize from speaking his mind after the game though. Mize stood up for his competitive integrity by emphatically emphasizing his non-use of sticky substances. He also resorted to soft profanity in airing his negative opinion of Tumpane’s timing and feel for handling the situation. Mize did note Tumpane is an excellent umpire and a good fellow overall, but the experience left Mize miffed at Tumpane’s game-management skills on display in Kansas City.
There is little question MLB needs to do something to address the pitching dominance in baseball that has led the sport to lose so much on-field action.
There are too many games like a recent Tigers/White Sox matchup that featured 27 strikeouts versus 15 hits and every run scored via a solo homer. If you want to see baserunner stretching a single into a double, or see a picture perfect relay throw out a runner at home, you’re all too often living in the wrong decade.
Singles are down over 4,000 from the pace of a decade ago. We are on track to see 1,000 fewer doubles than were hit in 2019. There are plenty of games like that Tigers/Sox tilt.
MLB may have the right thing in mind if the elimination of this “sticky stuff” advantage by pitchers leads to lower spin rates and less velocity. Batters might see their chances of success increase from the woeful .235 league-wide batting average we’ve seen this year, with record strikeout rates.
However, it’s easy to see after one day the hasty rollout Commissioner Manfred likely approved will be rocky in implementation. This is being dropped on the heads of pitchers in mid-season. Umpires have likely only gotten a few memos on how to proceed.
Already Tampa pitcher Tyler Glasnow is blaming this mid-season switch on his recent UCL injury. More of that is sure to follow as pitchers go down, whether the enforcement standard was the cause or not.
Then there are the unintended consequences of how Casey Mize may have looked guilty for a substance violation, when he was in fact just wearing a glove he’d been using all season. Indeed, with no complaints from anyone until encountering Tumpane.
Likely for Mize and Tumpane the bigger events surrounding the sticky-stuff changes will swallow up this event in fairly short order as MLB navigates the rollout of enforcing the substance rule. It does seem like Tumpane could have found a less surprising and game-intrusive way of delivering the decision to Mize, and hopefully that’s a lesson learned moving forward.