Jun 12, 2013, 9:24 AM EDT
Home runs and batting average have increased sharply in the NPB this season, and after months of denying that the ball had been altered in any way, Japanese baseball officials are admitting that they tinkered with it in order to “make the game more exciting” and increase offense:
Players and fans had repeatedly quizzed Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) bosses after seeing a 40 percent rise in the number of balls that were slugged out of the park so far this season.
In April NPB said the specifications of their ball — each of which bears the signature of its commissioner Ryozo Kato — “have not been changed”, a statement that was repeated several times since.
But on Tuesday NPB came clean, saying they had asked manufacturer Mizuno to “adjust” the ball to give it greater bounce off the bat and demanded the company keep quiet about the switch.
Altering baseballs is not unprecedented in baseball history, of course. In 1930 offense made the so-called Steroid Era look like 1982 or something. Half the teams scored 900 runs or more and the average hitter in the American League — just the AVERAGE ones — hit .303/.360/.448. That winter baseball deadened the balls a bit, with the AL altering the stitching and the NL doing both that and adding a cover to its balls. Offense went down significantly in 1931, more so for the NL.
1987 is widely suspected to be another year in which the ball was altered. Baseball has never admitted to doing anything, but the season was an offensive aberration and unlike other eras of changing offense it was an outlier, with the next and previous years looking pretty similar and no other explanation that makes a lick of sense.
I strongly suspect that the baseballs were altered again in the 1990s. There were multiple explanations for increased offense at that time, including double expansion, much smaller parks, smaller strike zones, different hitting approaches and, of course, performance enhancing drugs, but I’ve always thought that the baseball had something to do with it too. Not that anyone ever wants to blame anything other than steroids.
But I think this NPB story shows that it doesn’t take much for offense to increase significantly. Sometimes just a change in the ball. Which league officials are inclined to deny.
Jul 2, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
Not a bad return following Tommy John surgery.
Jul 2, 2015, 2:14 PM EDT
Chris Taylor replaces him on the roster.
Jul 2, 2015, 1:27 PM EDT
The dreaded plantar fasciitis.
Jul 2, 2015, 1:12 PM EDT
It was for sale before he even resigned.
Jul 2, 2015, 11:29 AM EDT
Basically you just need to follow Jesse Sanchez and Ben Badler, so here are the links you need to do that.
Jul 2, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT
I hear his [pitch] is nasty.
Jul 2, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
And place Tim Lincecum on the disabled list.
Jul 2, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
How YOU doin’?
Jul 2, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Even after missing more than a year Fernandez returns to the Marlins’ rotation one month before his 23rd birthday.
Jul 2, 2015, 10:01 AM EDT
A possible win-win-win involving A-Rod and the Yankees? What on Earth is this world coming to?
Jul 2, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT
Spring is hitting .264/.365/.457 with 13 homers and 14 stolen bases on the year.
Jul 2, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT
He was likely not smiling when he discovered the theft.
Jul 2, 2015, 8:56 AM EDT
And the ump was in perfect position to make the right call.
Jul 2, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT
He thinks Gerrit Cole hit him intentionally. He’s probably right.
Jul 2, 2015, 7:22 AM EDT
This is what your face looks like when you give up your first hit of the game with two outs in the ninth inning.
Jul 1, 2015, 10:38 PM EDT
Carlos Carrasco had a no-hitter Wednesday with one strike to go. When this happened …
Jul 1, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT
We have some history in the works Wednesday night in Tampa Bay.
Jul 1, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT
You’re gonna want to see this play that Manny Machado pulled off in Wednesday night’s game …
Jul 1, 2015, 8:47 PM EDT
Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia was unable to perform scheduled throwing workouts on Saturday and Monday due to cramping in his left groin — the same issue that drove him from his last start Wednesday night against the Marlins.
Jul 1, 2015, 7:21 PM EDT
Stoneman was the Angels’ general manager in 2002, when the the franchise won its last World Series championship.
- Bryce Harper is naked in ESPN’s “Body Issue” 33
- Today is the day: Marlins ace Jose Fernandez returns from Tommy John surgery 4
- A-Rod, the Yankees and the union in talks to direct his $6 million home run bonus to charity 21
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 48
- Video: Joey Butler breaks up Carlos Carrasco’s no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning 12
- Bill Stoneman taking over as Angels’ interim GM 15
- Jerry Dipoto loses power struggle with Mike Scioscia, steps down as Angels general manager 39
- Bobby Bonilla’s isn’t the only deferred money deal in the game. And isn’t even the worst. 50
- With the same-sex marriage decision, the San Francisco Giants get another big win (276)
- Joe Maddon is the latest manager to rip instant replay. He’s got a point. (110)
- Settling the Scores: Sunday’s results (99)
- Report: Jerry Dipoto “definitely out” as Angels GM (77)
- What Yasiel Puig being a pain in the butt means. And what it doesn’t mean. (75)