Commissioner denies MLB is 'juicing' baseballs for more offense

The MLB commissioner was replying to a rant from pitcher Justin Verlander who believes the ball has been changed

July 09, 2019 - 2:14 pm

(KMOX/AP) - In the middle of a Major League Baseball season that has seen home runs being hit at a record pace, commissioner Rob Manfred is denying rumors that balls have been changed to create more offense. 

Batters have hit 3,691 homers in 1,345 games, on pace to hit 6,669 over the full season. That would be 19% above last year's 5,558 and 9% over the record 6,105 hit in 2017.

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AL All-Star starter Justin Verlander was been among the players most vocal in claiming the ball has changed.

"It's a f---ing joke," Verlander told reporters Monday ahead of Tuesday's All-Star Game. "Major League Baseball's turning this game into a joke. They own Rawlings, and you've got (MLB commissioner Rob) Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the f---ing company. If any other $40 billion company bought out a $400 million company and the product changed dramatically, it's not a guess as to what happened. We all know what happened."

"Manfred the first time he came in, what'd he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It's not coincidence. We're not idiots."

MLB Player's Union head Tony Clark says, "I believe that the ball suddenly changed and I don't know why.'' He tells the Baseball Writers' Association of America the union has received data but no explanations.

Clark and Verlander have questioned whether Major League Baseball has more input into the ball since Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. Inc., which manufactures the ball, was purchased last year by Seidler Equity Partners. Peter Seidler, the San Diego Padres general partner, has chief oversight of all activities of Seidler Equity Partners.

Ahead of Tuesday's All-Star Game in Cleveland, Manfred responded to the rumors, saying "there is no evidence from the scientists that the ball is harder'' but says "the drag of the baseball is less.''

He says the sport is trying to find out why the drag is less but had not been given answers by scientists.

"Pitchers have raised issues particularly about the tackiness and seams on the baseball and we do believe those could be issues,'' Manfred tells the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Manfred says "baseball has done nothing, given no direction for an alteration in the baseball.''

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