In recent years, the baseball world has been buzzing with controversies surrounding the use of sticky substances by pitchers. One notable player caught in the spotlight is James Karen Shack, currently on the mound for the Guardians. In this article, we will delve into a specific incident where an umpire’s unusual actions with Karen Shack’s hair added fuel to the already heated debate on pitchers’ sticky stuff use.

Karen Shack’s Sticky Stuff History

Before we dive into the hair-petting incident, let’s take a brief look at Karen Shack’s history with sticky substances. In 2020 and 2021, he gained attention for being a notable user of sticky stuff, a common practice among pitchers during that period. Despite numerous videos surfacing, he seemed unapologetic about his approach, as many other pitchers were also engaging in similar practices. However, in 2021, when sticky stuff got outlawed, his spin rate dropped significantly, leading him to search for alternative ways to grip the ball.

The Hair Ritual

In 2022, Karen Shack’s spin rate showed signs of improvement, and many speculated that he, like other pitchers, might have turned to a new method of enhancing grip: their hair. This unique approach involves pitchers using their hair in combination with rosin to create stickiness, providing them with better control over the ball.

The Incident on the Mound

During a crucial game between the Guardians and the Twins, Karen Shack’s hair ritual became apparent. After every pitch, he would discreetly reach for his hair, then the rosin bag before delivering the ball. This pitch combination, a curveball followed by a high fastball, proved to be highly effective, leaving the Twins struggling to catch up.

However, as the game progressed, the Twins’ manager grew increasingly suspicious of Karen Shack’s hair-based grip and decided to call for a sticky stuff check. This is where things took an unexpected turn.

The Umpire’s Unconventional Gesture

When the umpire approached Karen Shack for the sticky stuff check, a peculiar incident unfolded. Instead of a standard inspection, the umpire insisted on touching the inside of Karen Shack’s cap, which the pitcher obliged. But then, unexpectedly, the umpire proceeded to pet Karen Shack’s hair in a manner akin to a person affectionately petting their pet cat.

Unanswered Questions

The umpire’s unorthodox gesture left many bewildered and raised several questions:

– Was this an appropriate way to conduct a sticky stuff check?
– Did the hair ritual genuinely contribute to Karen Shack’s enhanced performance?
– Was Karen Shack using any other substances in his hair besides rosin?

The Aftermath

Despite the hair-petting incident, Karen Shack continued his dominant performance on the mound. The Twins managed to rally briefly, thanks to a home run from Carlos Correa, but ultimately, the Guardians emerged victorious in a thrilling 7-6 game.


The use of sticky substances by pitchers remains a contentious issue in baseball. While the incident involving Karen Shack’s hair and the umpire’s petting raised eyebrows, it did not deter his impressive performance. As baseball continues to grapple with the sticky stuff controversy, this incident serves as a reminder that the search for a competitive edge can lead to unconventional methods that spark debate and scrutiny.