MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is really in the hot seat with all kinds of backstage drama in the past week.
And it does not look pretty for the commissioner at all.
Obviously we all know about the MLB lockout. Any kind of team and player connections have been cut off. Teams can’t talk to free agents, players can’t use team training facilities, and this might last for a while.
But amid the lockout, there is another bit of controversy that’s being overshadowed.
Bradford William Davis, a columnist at the NY Daily News, exposed Manfred for something that when done in Japan, made the commissioner resign.
Physicist Meredith Wills conducted a study that included over 100 baseballs from varying ballparks, and the results of the study show that there were two different types of baseballs used throughout the 2021 season.
There was a ‘juiced’ ball, which would pop off the bat a little better, yielding more home runs and harder contact. Then there was also a ‘dead’ ball, which behaved the opposite way, making it harder to hit well.
This alone is a sleazy thing for the commissioner to do, and it’s even worse when you add in that Manfred didn’t tell anybody about it. Players, coaches and execs had no idea that there were two different balls being used.
The MLB claims that there was a production delay due to COVID, which forced them to dive into an old inventory of balls, but the research says otherwise. Each baseball has a batch number on it, which says when the ball was made, and for some reason there were both dead balls, and juiced balls that were made prior to the pandemic.
Hmmm, go figure.
It gets even worse.
Not only did they do this without telling anyone, they did this while making a rule change to directly hurt pitchers. Pitchers used to be allowed to use foreign substances to get a better grip on the ball, and the league banned that. The foreign substance ban required many pitchers to change the way they pitch, and caused a lot of pitchers’ stats to suffer. This led to some big names being ridiculed for showing their use of a substance that was totally legal when it was used.
Now you throw in the fact that the league was using two different balls without anybody knowing, and it’s hard to tell what is to blame for some pitchers’ drop in quality. On one hand, they don’t have these substances, making it harder to pitch, but now the offense has a juiced ball that’s easier to hit.
Some say that there’s an even bigger conspiracy going on. There are some people out there who think they used the juiced balls in high market games to boost ratings, where the dead balls went to regular games to balance out players’ stats.
Whether you believe in conspiracy or not, the point still stands, that the league was using two different balls, with different performance properties, without telling anyone.
In Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League, the commissioner brought in juiced balls without telling anyone.
The commissioner resigned.
As for Manfred? Punishments are in order. Fans and players are fed up with him, and this should be the last straw. All Manfred has done since taking up his role is stretch out the pockets of the owners of the 30 teams, rather than help the game, the players, and the fans.
This guy runs professional baseball. He shouldn’t be acting on behalf of ratings, or making the owners happy if it means coming at the expense of the players, and the integrity of the game.