Chris Bassitt #40 of the Mets pitches against the St. Louis...

Chris Bassitt #40 of the Mets pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at Busch Stadium on April 26, 2022 in St Louis, Missouri.  Credit: Getty Images/Joe Puetz

ST. LOUIS — Major League Baseball has a baseballs problem, the Mets say. 

Their frustration over getting hit by pitches — including Pete Alonso’s second beaning of the season Tuesday night — boiled over after they beat the Cardinals, 3-0, with righthander Chris Bassitt and catcher James McCann calling out MLB for its failure to help pitchers more easily grip the sport’s signature piece of equipment. 

“MLB has a very big problem with the baseballs,” Bassitt said. “They’re bad. Everyone knows it. Every pitcher in the league knows it. They’re bad. They don’t care. MLB doesn’t give a damn about it. They don’t care. We’ve told them our problems with them. They don’t care. 

“[The balls] are all different. The first inning they’re decent, the third inning they’re bad, the fourth inning they’re OK, the fifth inning they’re bad. And we have different climates. Everything is different. There’s no common ground with the balls. There’s nothing the same outing to outing. They’re bad.” 

McCann said: “My take is it’s 2022. There’s enough technology out there to figure out the baseballs. We want to talk about juiced balls, dead balls, slick balls, sticky balls. It’s 2022. We should have an answer.” 

Bassitt, the most fired up of the several Mets who spoke on the subject, said players have recommended to the league “a million things” that would fix the issue of baseball slickness and pitchers’ ability to handle them, including options that would not impact hitters’ ability to hit. 

MLB cracked down on pitchers using sticky substances — which helped them grip the ball, stifling offense, the thinking went — last June. But players feel it was too extreme a reaction. 

 

“I know that’s why they want nothing on the ball, is for offense,” Bassitt said. “And there’s ways to do that. They don’t want to do it.” 

McCann’s recommendation was to put an on-deck circle behind the mound and give pitchers pine tar, as well as sunscreen and rosin, a formerly common mixture that went away when MLB started enforcing rules because of more big-time sticky substances such as Spider Tack. 

The debate is not pitchers versus hitters, McCann said, or the Mets versus the Cardinals/other teams. It is players versus the league. 

“You want to talk about Spider Tack and all this other stuff, yeah, get that out of the game,” McCann said. “I agree with that. But give them an on-deck circle just like the hitters have. Let them have a grip on the baseball. 

“Hitters and pitchers are on the same page. You go talk to any hitter or any pitcher, and they’ll all tell you the exact same thing. Get the Spider Tack and the special sticky stuff out. Give them a pine-tar rag and give them the sunscreen and rosin.” 

His other suggestion was simply for MLB to listen. 

“Sit down with players and see what players want,” McCann said. “Don’t take opinions from people who aren’t the ones on the mound trying to throw it. Don’t talk to someone who isn’t trying to stand in the box when a guy is throwing 100 miles an hour and doesn’t have a feel for the ball. That’s the answer. Talk to the players and see what the best result is.” 

The Mets lead the majors with 18 hit-by-pitches (and the next-closest teams have 11). That includes three to the head: Alonso on Opening Day, Francisco Lindor the next day and Alonso again Tuesday. McCann also got hit on the shoulder early this month. 

Alonso “seemed to be,” manager Buck Showalter said, adding that it was “so far so good” with passing concussion tests. The Kodi Whitley changeup broke his helmet, the manager noted. 

“It’s uncomfortable,” Starling Marte, who has been hit twice with the bases loaded in the past three days, said through an interpreter. “It’s one of those things where whether it’s intentional or not, it has to stop. We’re tired of it. We’re going to have to do something about it if it continues to happen.” 

Showalter said: “It’s a problem we have in MLB in general. I don’t know necessarily what the numbers are. I don’t really care. My concern is about our team . . . Without getting into right and wrong and intent and what have you, you reach a point where it’s about safety of your players.” 

Change needs to happen — and is doable in-season, McCann said.  

Bassitt said: “It’s too easy to fix to constantly see guys get hit in the head over and over and over and not do anything about it. How long are we going to let this happen?”

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