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.
Sep 4, 2015, 5:03 PM EDT
Brown may be done for the year.
Sep 4, 2015, 4:47 PM EDT
Any further concussion-related problems could force the former MVP into retirement
Sep 4, 2015, 3:48 PM EDT
Jay missed the past two months with a wrist injury.
Sep 4, 2015, 3:23 PM EDT
Viva abuse of the forfeiture laws
Sep 4, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT
The Matt Harvey controversy is a lot like the Stephen Strasburg shutdown of 2012. But Sandy Alderson is not going to do what Mike Rizzo did, someone close to him says.
Sep 4, 2015, 1:38 PM EDT
Gloves? Who needs a glove?
Sep 4, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT
Adding a 30-homer bat to the lineup.
Sep 4, 2015, 12:44 PM EDT
He’ll miss at least one week.
Sep 4, 2015, 12:29 PM EDT
A good move by ESPN.
Sep 4, 2015, 11:33 AM EDT
Teixeira suffered the injury on August 17.
Sep 4, 2015, 11:03 AM EDT
Just when you thought the Mets would enjoy a smooth, controversy-free final month of the regular season.
Sep 4, 2015, 10:46 AM EDT
Headed for a quick divorce.
Sep 4, 2015, 9:12 AM EDT
Holy moly, these guys are awful.
Sep 4, 2015, 7:29 AM EDT
Carlos Gonzalez hit two homers for the second straight night.
Sep 3, 2015, 11:04 PM EDT
Bryce Harper didn’t have an official at-bat tonight, but he still made a major impact in the Nationals’ 15-1 blowout victory over the Braves.
Sep 3, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT
Stroman threw 4 2/3 hitless innings in his first minor league rehab start.
Sep 3, 2015, 10:29 PM EDT
Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias was forced to exit Thursday’s game against the Royals in the third inning when he was hit in the hand while trying to drop down a bunt.
Sep 3, 2015, 9:50 PM EDT
The Dodgers called up top prospect Corey Seager today and manager Don Mattingly isn’t wasting any time getting him into the starting lineup…
Sep 3, 2015, 8:46 PM EDT
Murphy had a stint on the disabled list earlier this season due to a left quad strain.
Sep 3, 2015, 7:37 PM EDT
Strasburg left his most recent start on Sunday with discomfort in his upper back, but he’s on track to make his return for a crucial series against the Mets next week.
- Sandy Alderson is not going to “roll over” for Scott Boras and shut down Matt Harvey 43
- Dodgers are already fed up with 6.56 ERA-pitching, excuse-making Mat Latos 43
- And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights 57
- Bryce Harper walks in all four of his plate appearances, scores four runs 24
- ESPN pulls Curt Schilling off broadcasts for rest of regular season and Wild Card game 146
- David Ortiz is more likely to be boned in Hall of Fame voting for being a DH than for PED stuff 141
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 74
- The Marlins are going to change everything except their biggest problem this offseason 53
- Sarah Palin sticks up for Curt Schilling, tells ESPN to “stick to sports” (266)
- ESPN pulls Curt Schilling off broadcasts for rest of regular season and Wild Card game (146)
- David Ortiz is more likely to be boned in Hall of Fame voting for being a DH than for PED stuff (145)
- Matt Williams puts up another strong performance in his quest to get himself fired (107)
- David Ortiz tweets his happiness about the Deflategate decision (100)