Some baseball observers believe that balls have somehow been deadened, muting scoring and offensive statistics across MLBGetty Images
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in discussing the state of the game “repeatedly returned to the condition of the baseballs in use" in the league this season and the "various questions surrounding them," according to Benjamin Hoffman of the N.Y. TIMES. Manfred speaking yesterday with a group of sports editors at MLB’s headquarters in N.Y. said that perception was “out of line with reality.” Some in baseball believe that the ball has "somehow been deadened, muting scoring and offensive statistics across the league.” Others have wondered “whether there is a safety issue” in the wake of MLB’s "increasing enforcement of a ban on foreign substances that aid grip." Offense is down, scoring is “at the lowest level since 1981,” and home runs, which should “increase with temperature, are at their lowest level since 2014.” The league reportedly “experimented with humidors last season," and based on those results, humidors were "installed at all parks" for ’22. MLB said that no other changes were "implemented to the baseballs," all of which were "made with the same specifications” as ’21. Manfred said that the league wants to find a way to "make pitchers more comfortable on the mound without returning to products, like Spider Tack," that are viewed by many as “performance-enhancers because they allow pitchers to grip the ball better and spin it faster.” He said that baseball “might have an approved gripping agent by next season” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/9).
ON THE CLOCK: On Long Island, Ryan Gerbosi wrote with the minor leagues “serving as test labs for potential rule adjustments,” Manfred described pitch clocks as the "'most important' change, and likely the next to hit the majors." Manfred: “I think the reviews in the minor leagues have been really positive. Twenty-plus minute reductions in game time. Actually (having) an effect on the way the game is played in terms of more balls in play and more action in the game. And maybe most important, we’re down to I think it’s less than one violation a game, and what’s that show you? When you have great athletes like we have, you change something, they adjust. They get used to it, and they move on” (NEWSDAY, 5/9).