MLB Treats Pitcher’s American Flag Patch Like Sticky Stuff

Cubs reliever Luke Little was forced to change his glove because of white in the patch

Luke Little of the Cubs pitches against the Houston Astros.
Luke Little will be using a new glove going forward.
Michael Reaves/Getty

America’s Pastime apparently has an issue with the white that accompanies the red and blue in America’s flag.

At least that’s the conclusion one could draw after MLB umpires forced Chicago Cubs reliever Luke Little to change his glove because of white in the patch before he was allowed to pitch against the Houston Astros with one out in the seventh inning.

Called on to toe the rubber by manager Chicago Craig Counsell, the 6-foot-8 left-hander endured the usual check by umpires for pitchers coming into a big-league game, standard procedure since “sticky stuff” became an issue, and was told he had to swap out his glove because the umps deemed the amount of white in the flag patch on his black glove could be a distraction to Houston’s hitters.

The first glove a clubhouse attendant brought to Little, who retired both batters he eventually faced in the seventh, to serve as a replacement also had an American flag patch, so the lanky lefty was forced to use a third option which hadn’t been broken in. “I had to beat it a little bit, try and get it flexed out,” Little said following the win. “Of all the things to do is breaking in a glove during a game.”

The victory and the glove controversy also prompted the patriot-turned-pitcher to channel his inner Hulk Hogan for a “Don’t Tread on Me” message. “The clubbies told me that they had got an email from MLB that I’m not allowed to wear it,” he told The Associated Press. “But I just didn’t assume that they were just going to just cut me. It’s not like it has an advantage in the game. It’s not like it blinds the hitters. Just representing my country. Just a whole debacle. Got to get ready without it and throw through it.”

A North Carolina native, Little struck out 12 batters in 6 2/3 innings and did not allow a run when he was called up to The Show for seven games for the first time last season. That followed a breakout season in the minors for the 23-year-old that saw him collect 105 punchouts in 63 2/3 innings with a 2.12 earned run average.

A reliable reliever (2.16 ERA) out of the bullpen this season for the Cubs, Little will probably be sticking around in the majors — even if his glove won’t.

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