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MLB

Manfred’s Ho-Hum Response About Altered Baseballs Raises Questions

"Make some changes" has eyebrows raised.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Now that MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred has confirmed that the baseballs currently being used need to be examined, is it a stretch to suggest that MLB hierarchy should be investigated and interrogated by a congressional oversight committee in the same manner that the players were back in 2005?

Cultural Impact 

Culturally, the abundance of homers is the worst thing for MLB, who claims to be trying to diversify. Relying on home runs to drive the action changes the way baseball is played, eliminates strategy, speed, defense, and athleticism. There have been more strikeouts than hits this season for the first time ever. A stat like that is a direct reflection of a changing game. A change that was inorganically produced by MLB itself. 

So was the commissioner lying when he said this back in July?

The Devil Made Me Do It

This week, Manfred seems to have changed his tune and said that the league is going back and taking another look at the baseballs. He also basically admitted that the league has been juicing baseballs since 2015. 

“We have reconvened the group of scientists that worked with us before [on the initial study],” he said. “We’ve asked them to take a fresh look at everything that is occurring with the baseball. We expect to get this new report shortly after the World Series.”

That’s cryptic commissioner talk for “yeah we over juiced these puppies and now we got to reign it back in”

Sources say, the changes could go into effect as early as next season. Lowering the mound has also been suggested by various baseball minds, as a way to stem the embarrassing proliferation of home runs, which ultimately damages the game.

Devaluing the importance of certain skill sets also leads to the elimination of multi-skilled players, who do a lot more than hit home runs. Another damaging effect caused by homer-fests is the lack of overall action in the game, which ultimately discourages top athletes from playing the sport.

MLB has admitted to juicing the ball on the slide and presenting the product to the fans as authentic. Guys aren’t hitting 70 home runs like back in 1998, but the league overall has hit 500 more home runs this season than ever before. 

It’s so blatant that it could no longer remain the elephant in the room. 

One For You…Everybody Gets A Homer

According to Forbes: “To date (September 26) there have been 6,590 home runs in MLB; a new single-season record, and the home run rate in Triple-A, where the MLB baseball has been used, was up 50% for the season.

For more than two years, the league has addressed questions from not only the media, but pitchers about changes to the construction of baseballs that have been partly attributed to a spike in the number of home runs in the game. 

The league gathered a group of scientists that examined the ball as part of the increase in home runs starting in 2015. The league’s report showed that at least part of the increase was due to reduced drag on the ball. Additional research by Dr. Meredith Wills showed that changes to the lace thickness has created a rounder baseball as a likely reason for the change in drag”

Manfred said that he believed the report would contain some recommendations, but he sees the need to address the ball given the abnormal increase in home runs.

There’s baseball again, acting like its fixing the problem when it caused the problem in the first place.

Said the commissioner: “The only thing I’m prepared to say at this point and time is I do think that we need to see if we can make some changes that give us a more predictable, consistent performance from the baseball.”

Hypocrisy At Its Finest  

In the 90s and early 2000s, MLB allowed the players to juice and records were broken, baseball was thrust back into prominence, MLB made millions. Purists screamed that the game was compromised. 

Most baseball fans agreed it was the sport’s finest moment.

After these players helped MLB become more lucrative than ever, a witch hunt ensued, with an attempt by the US Government and MLB to disparage the accomplishments of some of the greatest players to ever walk the earth and make them Hall of Fame Lepers for life. 

Sealed testimony was leaked and players were forced to participate in a dog and pony show. 

Supposedly, it was all done to protect the integrity of the game and those sacred records that are guarded so uncompromisingly by the gatekeepers of baseball.

Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, Rafael Palmeiro and Slammin’ Sammy Sosa are all considered cheaters. They are also considered the premier players of their generation. 

Since the PED Era took its hold on baseball, Cooperstown inductions have been mired in controversy and hypocrisy. Certain players are not allowed in the Hall of Fame, but the managers and commissioner who oversaw this supposedly “tainted” era are allowed to be enshrined as if more honorable than the talents who actually played the game. 

Same Offense, Different Punishment

How is baseball admitting to juicing the ball for the direct purpose of increasing home runs and changing the culture of the game, any different than Sosa juicing to produce enough power to lace consecutive seasons of 60 homers? 

Theoretically, it’s the same infraction, but because it was MLB who instituted the baseball change without involving the players, it is recognized as a victimless crime…I guess. MLB isn’t going to prosecute itself. 

However, if human juicing is a negative individual choice, then juicing the ball is institutional cheating which might actually be worse.

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