It’s been a well-known fact that a lot of pitchers use sticky substances to get a better grip of the baseball and take their spin rate up a notch. MLB has known this for decades, as Los Angeles Dodgers’ Trevor Bauer has repeatedly stated, yet they decide to look the other way.
The league has issued some warnings about foreign substance use lately and has taken some baseballs for further examination, even though there hasn’t been any discipline thus far. Well, at least when it comes to players.
As for the rest of the league, there has been one casualty. Former Angels’ clubbie ‘Bubba’ Harkins was recently fired for giving away ‘Sticky Stuff’ to pitchers around the league, so he decided to speak up after being treated as the only fall guy.
Former Angels Employee Reveals Texts From MLB Aces
According to a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Harkins had been sending opposing players his combination of liquid pine tar, mota stick, and rosin. The list of his top clients features aces of the league such as Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Adam Wainwright:
(Texts via Sports Illustrated)
GC: Hey Bubba, it’s Gerrit Cole. I was wondering if you could help me out with this sticky situation (winking emoji). The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold, can you come up with, or do you have a mix that will play better in cold weather?
B: Hey Cole, the only thing I think I can do is put more tar in it and less [Mota] stick. I’ll play around with it and see.
GC: We tried mixing the liquid in it and it definitely helped but it was a sloppy mess. I feel like incorporating a different ratio from the beginning of the process would be more ideal.
“Two weeks later, Harkins mailed Cole a made-to-order canister with more pine tar and less Mota stick than usual. Then one more message was sent from the ace’s phone: “Thanks Bubba you tha man” with an O.K. hand sign emoji.”
“Bubba, Max needs 2 batches please,” said one text from 2017. “Bubba, Max needs the stuff ASAP. He will pay for overnight shipping please,” read another.
“Bubba! This is adam wainwright. Can I give you a call?” read one text. “Hey Bubba, couple guys asking about some secret stuff. Anyway you can send a couple batches with the angels when they come?” Wainwright also said.
““Bubba it’s Chatwood,” said a text from a phone number associated with Tyler Chatwood, then with the Cubs, in May 2018. “You think we can get some of your stuff sent over for us?” Then a follow-up: “Is that the stuff verlander is using.” Harkins said it was, and later sent a photo of a UPS receipt with tracking info,” the report continued.
Harkins reportedly got the recipe from lifelong Angels closer Troy Percival, who spread the word around the league upon his retirement. That’s how he became such a famous figure amongst MLB’s aces.
‘Sticky Stuff’ has been a controversial issue around the league for decades now and the commissioner’s office is aware of it. Harkins is just a scapegoat for them and if they were serious about putting an end to it, they would have done it ages ago.