Sports Illustrated’s latest sticky stuff-related bombshell sheds further light on the participation of New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole — as well as brand-new Yankee Corey Kluber — in the “scheme”…though you knew that already, without an additional cover story.
This isn’t the first time we’ve read about the widespread nature of MLB’s persistent and extremely tacky problem, even from the folks at SI.
Heck, this isn’t even the first time we’ve read these Gerrit Cole text messages verbatim.
Monday’s piece, though, does do a great job of establishing the sheer number of pitchers who are caught up in this one specific thread, which all links back to Angels clubhouse attendant Bubba Harkins, who was summarily fired when word of his involvement became problematic for team management.
Someone facing consequences in Rob Manfred’s MLB? Well, he must not be a star player!
Somehow, up until now, the only people to face repercussions for this scheme — embedded in the fabric of the modern game — have been Harkins, a few suspended minor-leaguers, and Trevor Bauer (if he cared about his reputation). Either MLB should change that, or they should reverse the black-balling of Harkins, most likely.
Yankees fans won’t be shocked to see Gerrit Cole’s texts and Corey Kluber in the latest sticky stuff update.
We understand the gravity of what’s being alleged here, and we just can’t sit on the sidelines any longer without speaking out: Gerrit Cole is responsible for a brazen misuse of the “winky face” emoji.
Beyond that, though, this article helps illuminate how widespread this issue is throughout Major League Baseball, and doesn’t shine a light on Cole, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, or any of the others as much as it lays bare how ridiculous it is that only an Angels clubbie has thus far been blackballed.
The texts — from everyone! — are provided for your perusal in this story, which tracks Harkins’ emergence from the very beginning, and finally gives voice to the voiceless legion of other MLBers who we knew were involved, even a few months back when Cole’s texts were the only real evidence we had.
According to Harkins, the whole thing started with Troy Percival, then spread rapidly:
"Word of Harkins’s acumen spread fast throughout the league. “Joba Chamberlain was on the Tigers; that’s how he became familiar with it,” Harkins recalls. “And then he went to Cleveland [where] Corey Kluber got a hold of it. Now, when Corey comes into town, he asks me. I’m like, ‘O.K.’ So never ever did I solicit anyone. Never. It was just, they would come and ask me. And of course, I’m gonna accommodate, being that that’s my job.” (Chamberlain, who retired in 2017, did not respond to requests for comment. Kluber’s agent, B.B. Abbott, says, “Bubba Hankins [sic] never personally gave anything of the sort to Corey Kluber nor has he ever used any substance prepared by Bubba Hankins [sic] in a MLB game. If he is saying anything contrary to that, it is a blatant lie.”)"
Pretty neat spelling there in Corey Kluber’s agent’s denial, huh? Extremely well-prepared, much like Cole when the issue of Spider Tack was presented to him point blank.
At the end of the day, MLB needs to decide whether they care or not. Do they care about some instances of misuse, but not all? Are they willing to find a middle ground so that pitchers can enhance their grip without going overboard?
The league’s midseason crusade towards cleanliness is reaching a fever pitch. Do they want to do this “right” in the new CBA, or are we going to continue to wink at the problem for a few more weeks, like Cole scrolling his “most used” emojis?