If you’ve paid any attention to Major League Baseball this season, you probably know what I’m talking about.
Routine pop ups carrying out of the ballpark. Players who were never considered power hitters are now hitting home runs with regularity. Final scores often resemble a football game more than a baseball game.
MLB is juicing its balls.
The purpose of this column isn’t to convince you that it’s happening. Research has proven that it is. My problem is what the juiced balls are doing to the game – they’re turning it into a farce.
The league, as a whole, is on pace to shatter the previous record for long balls in a season. Entering Monday, 18 players were on pace to hit 40 or more home runs. In 2014, just one did it. Pitchers don’t stand a chance.
A moment of silence, then, for the pitcher’s duel. What was formerly an instrumental part of the game, and one of the most intense, is largely a thing of the past. If you like good pitching, turn off the TV. We’ve reached the point where each at-bat has two outcomes: a home run and a strikeout. All or nothing. It’s not fun to watch.
It’s bad for baseball and it disgraces the legacy of the game. Any records set this season should be considered illegitimate in the same way that records set during the steroid era are. The only difference is that the balls are juiced now instead of the players.
Commissioner Rob Manfred says he’s not sure why the balls have changed, but I don’t buy it. Attendance is down. He wants to drum up interest. People like home runs, and they like seeing people chase records.
He’s not fooling anyone, however. Baseball fans are smart. They know that off-balance, one-handed swings shouldn’t result in 400-foot home runs. They know that a light-hitting veteran second baseman like Derek Dietrich shouldn’t have a career-high 17 home runs by mid-June.
They see what Manfred is doing, and his plan isn’t working. Attendance is down once again this year. People aren’t interested in inflated stats.
The most insulting thing about this whole saga is the commissioner’s office’s refusal to do anything about it. Manfred can say that he doesn’t know why the ball has changed. Major League Baseball, however, is a multi-billion-dollar organization that has the resources to identify and fix an issue with the manufacturing process. Instead, it has done nothing but watch as baseballs continue to fly out of parks at an alarming rate.
Rob Manfred: Do something.
Follow Sam Campisano on Twitter @samcampisano and contact him at [email protected].