Balls on ice
After multiple seasons of balls flying out out of baseball parks and astoundingly high rates major league baseball is finally doing something about it. But it’s not the thing you’d expect… like, you know… the right thing.
Last week, Major League Baseball announced it would be putting baseballs on ice… in five more cities. “Five more? You ask. Yes. There will now be 10 teams with balls coming out of cold storage.
Why? Billionaire baseball owners can’t afford the price of a dozen balls leaving the yard every game during baseball’s “Stupidly-High Home Run Rate” era. That’s one reason. Another reason might be: Major League Baseball and Rawlings –which it co-owns — screwed up the ball. How do you screw up a ball? A number of ways. You can use recycled tires for the hide, you can print “Rob Manfred” in extra bold print 70 times so everyone really knows who’s boss, or you can encase the center of the ball in more A study by astrophysicist Dr. Meredith Wills published in Sports Illustrated found about a third of the balls were smaller and lighter than the other balls. Why? Rawlings is saving money apparently, by not putting as much stuff in the ball. So, lighter balls, lower seams due possibly to a different drying process “We need to crank these puppies out! Don’t air dry it. Put it in the microwave!”
So, what’s right next to the microwave? The freezer! And cookbooks you’ve never opened.
With the last several years being silly in the home run department, MLB now has yarn all over its face and is looking at a generation of players with a great start on threatening the record book. Think how happy they are with the home run category “We love Barry Bonds. Honest! Except for the whole part about us not.”
Baseball –more than any other sport– still has a an apples to apples comparison of previous generations and current generations because the rules have stayed essentially the same. There are no graphite bats like in tennis or rules changes whereby a defensive back can not be in the same stadium as a receiver in football without receiving a flag. Baseball: bat, ball, glove and lots of protein powder. We’ve seen what’s happened to the importance of some records as baseball has made changes. The most glaring is the additional number of playoff games each year which has caused names like Mantle and Berra to be given short shrift because any .500 ball club cannot help but make the postseason.
The other reason baseball types support popsicballs is the difficulty the new ball has created for teams as they are trying to assess talent –especially power. We have middle infielders who are hitting 25 home runs when they had previously never hit more than say two and that was on the XBOX.
Are icicle-laced spheres the answer to the problem? Kinda sorta. Making the ball uniformly and as it was made for 50 years before might also be a nice touch. You can’t trust that they will do so, especially after Dr. Wills’ research showed several changes made just over the last five years, despite MLB and Rawlings’ protestations that absolutely nothing had changed, “The players must be on steroids! No. Wait. Scratch that.” Something has to be done, and, like so many lawmakers who author legislation to attack the symptom of a problem, this something does something without doing the thing that actually needs to be done.
So, iced balls it is… and a new marketing campaign perhaps, “Frozen baseball fever! Catch it!”