1st November 2017
America’s favorite pastime sport is once again under attack and it’s not for the age-old complaints around umpiring or the length of games. Theories about #juicedballs are running wild.
Game two at Dodger Stadium featured more home runs than any World Series game ever, and the most extra-inning homers in any MLB game. Game five of the World Series will most likely go down as one of the best games ever – from the Dodgers’ four-run first inning to the Astros’ 10th inning walk-off, and all of the drama in-between. The Dodgers and Astros have already set a World Series record for most homers in a series, with 24 in just six games. But this long ball outburst has reignited discussions around whether or not the baseballs being used are ‘juiced’.
Players from both teams have made claims that the World Series baseballs being used are slicker and harder to grip than the baseballs used during the regular season. This had already been the subject of an ongoing conversation throughout the regular season, with some feeling that the League that was once willing to turn a blind eye to steroids has now found a new way to increase the offense. MLB has stated that the only difference between the regular season and World Series baseballs is the gold stamping being used instead of the blue ink from the regular season.
A PR Problem
#Juicedballs is a PR problem. There’s a study claiming to have found differences in the size and seam height of balls since the 2015 All-Star break. And having star players openly disagreeing with the baseball commissioner is surely not the type of news MLB wants on its biggest stage. MLB needs to find a way to own – or kill – this conversation.
Testing conducted by a (MLB-sponsored) research facility has shown the baseballs are “within the league’s specifications”, but these results have as never been publically released. With today’s expectations of openness and transparency, unless MLB shares these results and reports from the facility, the controversy will not dissipate. Whether intentionally done or not, MLB should own up to the fact that there does appear to be something different about the baseballs, and strive to have a more consistent approach to production in future. The league can tighten up the manufacturing process and standards that are being used to produce baseballs and present this as an ‘upgrade’ to the current system.
Casual fans are tuning in to watch the offensive spectacle, not the pitchers’ duels that many baseball purists seek. The games have been competitive and entertaining, there’s an influx of young stars, higher TV ratings, and tonight’s Game seven is the third Game seven over the past four years – juiced balls or not, the World Series has been a hit for the MLB. With that in mind, will we see a change from the MLB, or should we get used to the high scoring games where pitching is just an afterthought?
Malinda Singh is an Account Supervisor in Grayling’s New York team.
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