We have our next big story in what seems to be the “sticky stuff” era in Major League Baseball. Umpires in the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s Subway Series matchup ejected Mets reliever Drew Smith before he even threw a pitch. Umps cited a failed substance check — this comes nearly two months after ace Max Scherzer was ejected for the same reason.
Scherzer’s ejection was met with an automatic 10-game suspension and the same outcome awaits Smith, per reports. But in a shocking move, the right-hander will not appeal, even though he pleaded his innocence and claims to have the evidence.
After getting ejected, Smith pleaded to the umpiring crew (and nearby teammates) that he did not have a foreign substance on his hands upon entering the game. He proceeded to portray his frustration in the dugout as teammates seemed to support him, but with a “nothing we can do about it now, let’s move on” type of vibe (this is just how it looked on television).
And then in a postgame clubhouse interview following the Mets’ 7-6 loss, Smith claimed an MLB official actually checked his hands in the Citi Field tunnel and sided with him on the matter.
Drew Smith says he had an MLB official check his hands in the tunnel after his ejection.
He says the official laughed and said there was "nothing there." pic.twitter.com/Vc1AfdCxA3
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 14, 2023
“My hands weren’t sticky,” Smith said. “I had everybody check them as I was coming off the field…the MLB guy in the tunnel — I kind of forced him to feel my hands as I walked in…and he actually laughed and said there was nothing there. So, I don’t really know what else to do.”
So if Smith is so sure he wasn’t using a sticky substance — to the point where he’s pleading his case various times (including to an MLB official who he “kind of forced” to check his hands) — why isn’t he appealing?
I understand it takes time and effort on Smith’s part, and there’s an argument to be made that it’s just not worth it. That it’s only 10 games in June as part of an overwhelming 162-game season.
But the Mets are in a hole. They’re 31-36 and have lost nine of 10 games. They’re 20th in MLB with a 4.27 bullpen ERA and now won’t be returning Smith until June 26. Pair this with the rotation’s recent struggles and you have a pitching staff that can’t afford any setbacks at this point.
If Smith is sure he’s innocent, and the Mets would benefit from keeping him on the roster, they would make an appeal. So either Smith is fabricating the story or the team feels totally comfortable playing with a shorthanded bullpen for 10 straight games. Regardless, it all just seems odd.