Ooooooooh fvck. Major League Baseball is about to have a new commish and probably a shit ton of lawsuits on its hands as it was found to be secretly changing out baseballs during the season.
According to Bradford William Davis of Business Insider (subscription required), the league used two different ball weights during the season. News that could not come at a worse time for league labor negotiations.
The report cites Dr. Meredith Wills — a physicist who specializes in sports (what major is that?) — dissected and measured baseballs that were used during the 2021 MLB season. The good doctor found that some of the balls had lighter cores, which is something that MLB had promised to use curb offense, while others were heavier, being basically the same as balls used in previous seasons when everyone was mashing homers.
MLB confirmed it used different balls. (Not sure why, this probably should have been a deny deny deny situation)
“Every baseball used in a 2021 MLB game, without exception, met existing specifications and performed as expected,” the league said.
Though, it added, COVID-19 forced its manufacturer to use backlogged balls because of supply chain issues — which no one is believing.
“Rawlings manufactures Major League balls on a rolling basis at its factory in Costa Rica,” it said. “Generally, balls are produced 6-12 months prior to being used in a game. Because Rawlings was forced to reduce capacity at its manufacturing facility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the supply of re-centered baseballs was not sufficient to cover the entirety of the 2021 season. To address this issue, Rawlings incorporated excess inventory into its shipments to Clubs to provide a full complement of baseballs for the 2021 season.”
The multiple ball manipulation is something that New York Met slugger Pete Alonso said was happening this summer.
“The biggest concern is MLB manipulates the baseballs year in and year out depending on the free agency class,” Alonso told reporters, adding: “Oh, no, that’s a fact. Yes, guys have talked about it. It’s not a coincidence. It definitely is something that they did.”
Alonso cited the juicing of the ball during the 2019 season, after which seven of the top 10 free agents were pitchers, and then the deadening of the ball this year, ahead of a hitter-heavy free-agent class.
Damn, bro. You nailed it.
Business Insider reported that it talked to 10 players for the story and none of them knew two different balls were being used in 2021.
Sneaky mother fvckers. Manipulating the market is a really bad look and there will be A LOT of smoke on this one.
MLB had announced that it would deaden the balls in an attempt to curb the ridiculous home-run rates. Initially, the balls were going to have a lighter core (which prevents it from traveling as far) but Wills found those balls — which weighed 124 to 125 grams — were used last season. He then found a significant amount of balls that weighed around 127 grams — representing a number more in line with the old balls, were used in 2021.
Well, this is certainly going to become a contentious situation at the negotiation table.
It would not be shocking to see Rob Mansfeld lose his position over this and MLB be shown several lawsuits alleging misconnect and salary manipulation.