The Loop

Get the Belt

Belt checking a guy during the standing ovation for his MLB debut is a tough look for Manfraud’s Sticky Strikeforce

The steroid era. The juiced-ball era. The lockout era. The old-racist-guy era. Baseball loves nothing more than a dubious epoch and if all indications are what they seem, we are now on the verge of another: The belt-check era. On Monday, six days after the MLB released their official anti-sticky screed, in-game checks began in earnest. 24 hours later they’d already reached their boiling point, with Max Scherzer and Sergio Romo both threatening to take off their pants in response to multiple in-game checks. But if you thought grown professionals getting strip-searched in front of an entire stadium full of people in the name of a mid-season rule change that may or may not be causing a rash of potentially career-threatening injuries, then just wait until you see what Rob Manfraud’s Pine-Tar Police cooked up on Wednesday.

That’s New York Mets’ pitcher Tylor Megill. With Marcus Stroman and Joey Lucchesi now injured and neither Carlos Carrasco nor Noah Syndergaard amongst the living, the Mets were forced to call up Megill from Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday. Megill proceeded to toss four shutout innings, before exiting in the fifth with just a pair of runs on his record. It was an excellent performance that gave the Mets’ rotation a much-needed reprieve and helped them earn a series split with the division-rival Braves. While exiting to a standing ovation from Citi Field faithful, however, Manfred’s SS (Sticky Strikeforce) stopped Megill before he could even reach the dugout for a belt check.

The most important and validating moment of this kid’s life, and some creepy senior in shoulder pads has to run over and ask him to take off his belt. Literally NO ONE asked for this. (Or this, for that matter).

The Mets broadcast was understandably miffed. “Talk about a buzzkill,” Gary Cohen said as the cheers morphed seamlessly to boos (a Mets fan staple). “They want to make sure he doesn’t stick to his steering wheel. Unbelievable,” chimed in Ron Darling, pointing out the absurdity of checking a pitcher as he’s LEAVING the game.

In the end, it won’t be what Megill remembers about the evening. No substance was found. The Mets would win comfortably. No harm, no foul. But it’s still a stark reminder to baseball fans everywhere that we have entered a whole new era . . . and it may be the worst one yet.