Gallant: Where’s MLB’s transparency with Mariners’ Hector Santiago’s suspension?

Jul 2, 2021, 1:04 PM

Mariners LHP Hector Santiago...

Mariners LHP Hector Santiago's suspension leaves Paul Gallant with unanswered questions. (AP)


It’s been nearly a week since Mariners pitcher Héctor Santiago was suspended 10 games by MLB. And we’re still waiting for a detailed reason as to why.

‘It’s confusing’: Servais discusses process surrounding Santiago’s suspension

Here’s all the information we have:

• The umpire’s report that his crew detected “foreign substance that was sticky” on Santiago’s glove.

• Mariners manager Scott Servais and Santiago insisting that said foreign substance was a mixture of rosin and sweat.

• This blurb: “Hector Santiago has been suspended 10 games for having a foreign substance on his glove.”

• The league – which collected Santiago’s glove in what looked like a kitchen trash bag and flew it to New York – claimed it didn’t need to inspect Santiago’s glove any further

That’s it. And that’s not enough. Because at the very least, the public needs to know what that substance was.

Santiago’s guilt or innocence isn’t the issue here. Just like baseball’s problem isn’t rosin, a chalk-like substance (READILY available in a bag that is always on the field right next to the mound) pitchers use for better grip and sometimes to stop sweat from dripping down their arms and neck.

Major League Baseball is really at war with substances like Pelican Grip Dip, Tyrus Sticky Grip, Firm Grip spray, and Spider Tack, industrial grade sticky substances that, per Sports Illustrated, have helped baseball spin rates climb to the point where they’re practically unhittable.

So if baseball collected Santiago’s glove for testing, why didn’t they even bother to check if the Mariners reliever was using one of those name brand adhesives above? Had they found one of those, I’d completely agree with the suspension.

Was it because they knew it was rosin? And that if they’d suspended him for simply using rosin, they’d look bad?

I guess it’d be naïve to expect anything more out of a sport haphazardly run by commissioner Rob Manfred. After all, we’re talking about a commissioner who’s been too scared to act when his league steers headfirst into cheating epidemics. Whether its sign stealing or doctored baseballs, Manfred would prefer to send a memo, cross his fingers, and hope everyone complies.

Unfortunately, Manfred commands little authority. His league rarely listens. And when they ignore him, the commissioner planlessly scrambles to enforce his sports rules. Like a rule against doctored baseballs…midway through the year…a rule that’s been in place for years…

In case you couldn’t tell by now, asking Manfred to get anything done is a tall order. But a sport that actually respects due process, its fans, and its players should be willing to give them one simple thing. Something simple. And something the commish BRAGGED about delivering the last time he stared down a cheating epidemic: Transparency.

It was just over a year ago where Rob Manfred couldn’t stop patting himself on the back for his punishments of the sign stealing Houston Astros. Seriously…he really couldn’t stop. Let’s dissect his boasting, and apply his standard for punishment:

1) “Going into the investigation, our overall goal was to find the facts and to be transparent about what we found,” said Manfred at a Feb. 16, 2020 press conference. “Um . . . we were successful in finding the facts. It wasn’t easy. And maybe even harder was to write those facts down and make them public, frankly. Because they weren’t very pretty.”

Rob didn’t even try to find the facts here. Hard to be transparent if you don’t even take a second glance, so you certainly weren’t successful. If you could disclose the depths the Astros went to steal signs, why couldn’t you disclose what was on Santiago’s glove?

2) “The worst possible outcome for this institution would have been if we conducted an investigation and came back and said ‘you know, we just couldn’t figure out what went on’” continued Manfred at the Feb. 16 press conference. “People had a right to know what happened, and we did achieve that goal.”

Rob, how could you figure out what went on Sunday if you didn’t even conduct an investigation? People – specifically the people of Seattle who root for the Mariners – have a right to know what happened. You failed to reach that goal.

3) “I thought that the report gave people a really transparent account of what went on,” Manfred told ESPN’s Karl Ravech. “That we put people in a position to make their own judgments about the behavior that went on.”

The only report that we got about Hector Santiago’s glove was that it had a foreign substance on it. We’re not even sure if there was more than one. Because of that, we can’t make an honest judgment about Santiago’s behavior. Was he cheating? Or was just putting rosin on his arms to stop sweat? No one can answer that with certainty.

4. “If I’ve learned anything over the last five years, I’ve come to understand that when you discipline people are going to have views that aren’t consistent with what you’ve done.” Manfred continued in his exclusive interview with Ravech. “I accept that as part of the responsibility of the job. I accept the criticism as part of the responsibility of the job. What I did here is I tried to get the facts. I laid them out in as transparent a way as I could lay them out so people could in fact make their own judgments.”

Look at that, Rob! That first sentence is something we can actually agree upon! But you gathered zero facts when it came to Hector Santiago. You didn’t even investigate his glove, let alone disclose what actually was on it. Again, zero transparency. How can anyone make a judgment of whether you were fair in your treatment?

I know not to ask Rob Manfred to bite off more than he can chew. So I’ll just asking for two things: a test of Santiago’s glove to determine what substance(s) was on his glove, and for the result to be made public.

Given that he’s all about transparency, is that really so much to ask?

Follow Paul Gallant on Twitter.

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Gallant: Where’s MLB’s transparency with Mariners’ Hector Santiago’s suspension?