Column: Baseball has issues beyond a juiced ball

Published 3:13 a.m. ET July 11, 2019

First the players, now the ball. Home runs are skyrocketing, and once again Major League Baseball officials claim they don’t know the reason why.

Then again, it might be that they’re just not looking hard enough.

Unlike the players, the ball still looks the same. Commissioner Rob Manfred said it tests much the same as before, too, though he conceded there might be less drag on the ball than there was in the past.

So why are batters teeing off at a rate nearing three home runs a game, a 19 percent increase from a year before? Why are hitters on a pace to hit 1,000 more home runs than the Steroids Era high mark of 5,693 in 2000?

Good question, Manfred says, but it’s not because anyone juiced the ball.

“Manipulation of the baseball is a great conspiracy theory,” Manfred said Tuesday at the All-Star Game in Cleveland. “How you manipulate a human-dominated handmade manufacturing process in any consistent way, it’s a smarter human being than I.”

Don’t tell that to pitchers like Justin Verlander, who say they can tell something is different just by how the ball feels in their hands. He and a few other outspoken pitchers…

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