Juiced balls? Commissioner Rob Manfred says only the drag on ball has changed

 cleveland.com  07/09/2019 22:46:00  6  Paul Hoynes, cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Houstons Justin Verlander, who started Tuesday nights All-Star game for the AL, said the baseballs he throws for a living have changed.

Its a joke, Verlander told reporters on Monday at the All-Star Game. Major League Baseball is turning the game into a joke.

Verlander said MLB wanted more offense in the game and juiced the ball to get it.

Commissioner Rob Manfred, in his annual meeting with members of the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday afternoon, said he would not debate Verlander. He did say the only thing that has changed about the ball is that it has less drag, which has caused it to travel farther.

The basic characteristics of the baseball, as measured by independent scientists that we asked to do a study, provides no support (that the ball is harder). What there is support for is that the drag on the baseball is a little less and with less draft it goes farther.

Manfred added, Pitchers have raised issues particularly about the tackiness and seams on the baseball and we do believe those could be issues.

Scientists, Manfred said, are looking into those issues.

Verlander said MLB purchased Rawlings Sporting Goods which manufactures the balls used in big-league games, giving them an opportunity to manipulate the ball and cause an increase in offense. There have been 3,691 homers hit in 1,345 games in the first half this year. Last year there were 2,690 homers hit in the first half.

They own the company," said Verlander. "If any other $40 billion company bought out a $400 million company and the product changed dramatically, its not a guess as to what happened. We all know what happened. Manfred the first time he came in, whatd he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? Its not coincidence. Were not idiots.

Last year Rawlings was purchased by Seidler Equity Partners. Peter Seidler is general partner of the San Diego Padres.

Tony Clark, executive director of the players association, told the same group of writers on Tuesday, I believe the ball suddenly changed and I dont know why.

Manfred said owning Rawlings gives MLB a chance to control the consistency of the baseball.

Youve got to remember a baseball is not a golf ball, said Manfred. Everything on a baseball is a natural product and its handmade. There always will be, and alway has been, a little variation in the process. We need to get a little better handle on how each baseball is going to perform before we use it in a season.

Manfred said MLB owners are not pushing for more home runs. He said some owners think too many home runs are being hit.

Baseball has done nothing, given no direction for an alteration to the baseball, said Manfred said.

Manfred said there is a range of specifications that all MLB baseballs must meet. He said some of those balls fall into the high end of the specifications and some fall into the low end.

There was no change (in the ball), said Manfred. Thats what the report said. It was attributed to that natural variation in a manufacturing process that involves raw materials that are natural. The challenge for us is to get better control over that variation, tighten those specifications and get more comfortable with how the ball is performing."

Manfred said if MLB ever changes the baseball they will make the change public.

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