Manfred: MLB Not Altering Baseballs, Trying To Be Transparent
Whether or not MLB has done anything to alter the baseball was the "primary subject of discussion during lengthy interviews" conducted by Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark ahead of the All-Star Game, according to Andy McCullough of the L.A. TIMES. Clark during an interview with the BBWAA yesterday "stopped short of accusing MLB of deliberately manipulating the baseball, as many of the players have," but he "did not downplay concern about the subject." On the other hand, Manfred "scoffed at the suggestion," which had been raised directly by Astros P Justin Verlander and others, that MLB has "conspired to change the baseballs." Manfred said MLB "has done nothing, given no direction for an alteration in the baseball." Manfred indicated that "some variation in the baseballs was inherent, because they were crafted by hand." Otherwise, he "insisted the commissioner’s office would be transparent." He said, "If we make a decision to change the baseball, you’re going to know about it before we change the baseball." Verlander said that he spoke with MLB officials Monday. Verlander "declined to comment on the nature of the discussion, but indicated he would contribute to an oversight committee if Manfred sought his input" (L.A. TIMES, 7/10).
FINDING A SOLUTION: Verlander addressed the controversy during last night's All-Star Game, saying if Manfred's comments are correct, then both the players and the league "can work together and just try to figure this out." He said, "Everybody's using the ball, I'm not upset about that. (Manfred and the owners) are trying to do the same thing that we are. So if that's the case, then we can all figure this out." Fox' Joe Buck noted MLB is on pace for another season-long record for home runs. He said, "You can admit or you can scientifically prove that there is less drag on the baseball, therefore the ball is jumping and flying more than it ever has. ... That can be true, but it doesn't mean there's a conspiracy to make that happen." Fox' John Smoltz: "Guys are trying to swing for the fences more. Guys are bigger, stronger. Bat speed is faster. The ball velocity is higher. That's a contributing factor" ("2019 MLB All-Star Game," Fox, 7/9).
PLAYER SPEAK OUT: USA TODAY's Gabe Lacques notes Nationals P Max Scherzer "stopped short" of insinuating MLB "intentionally altered the baseball." But he also "put the onus almost entirely on MLB to do something about it." He said, "I don’t care what the ball is. ... At the end of the day, the ball is different and that needs to be addressed from the MLB side, what they plan to do about it and how they foresee the future of the baseball, and its role in the home run" (USA TODAY, 7/10). Rays P Charlie Morton said, "If the ball’s different, and intentionally different, I guess the one thing I would ask is just some transparency. If the league is trying to do something different and get a different result with balls in play, I think for history’s sake and for the integrity of the game that there would be transparency" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/10). Twins P Jake Odorizzi said, "Whatever has changed, whatever it may be, that’s perfectly fine. Just say it" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/10). White Sox P Lucas Giolito said, "I’d probably say the ball feels a little different." Astros P Gerrit Cole said the feel of the baseball is "tighter, smoother, compact" (AP, 7/9). Cardinals SS Paul DeJong: "I feel like the factors involved could be lengthier than we might think. The seams’ height. The materials used. How tightly wound is the core? Temperature changes for sure. There is a lot of stuff that goes into the ball that could affect it" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/10).
WHERE'S THE ACTION? In Houston, Jerome Solomon writes MLB's rising home run rate "isn’t good for the game." While home runs are "exciting, the wait for those big moments can be excruciating for some." Solomon: "No action, no interest." Home runs "won’t save baseball." The games are "too long, and unfortunately, the letter-designated generations tend to find the game boring" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/10). In DC, Barry Svrluga writes if the home run "isn’t reined in, it will eat the single and the triple." It has "already devoured the bunt, has nibbled at the double play and is having an effect on the stolen base." Put them "all simultaneously at a generational low, and there’s just less going on over the course of a random game that’s trying to hold your interest" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/10).