According to the "juiced ball" idea, the baseballs used in Major League Baseball (MLB) have been intentionally changed by the league in order to boost scoring. The juiced ball notion made a comeback in the late 2010s, when there was a dramatic increase in offensive production, particularly home runs. It is believed that the use of more advanced balls has something to do with it.
Before the 2004 season, MLB banned the use of cork and synthetic materials for its baseballs, in an attempt to reduce offense by allowing the bats to make louder contacts with the ball. That same year, baseballs became firmer and less elastic, which was said to be done so that pitchers would not be forced to throw faster to keep the ball in the park.
In 2013, after several years of declining attendance, MLB announced a number of rule changes intended to make the game more appealing to fans. Among them was a reduction in time between pitches from about 25 seconds to about 24 seconds 5/3/2018. This was said to make games more entertaining because fans want to see action unfold as quickly as possible. A similar change had been implemented in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) during the previous year.
The next day, reports began to surface that baseballs were being treated with chemicals to improve their appearance and performance. It was later confirmed that all 30 teams were using such treatments on their balls before each game.
In February, Major League Baseball distributed a letter to all 30 teams describing the adjustments to the ball for the upcoming season. The alterations, first reported by The Athletic, were intended to deaden the ball in reaction to the recent surge in home run rates. The change is designed to make it harder for hitters to do damage with the ball.
The reduction in velocity will come as some surprise to most baseball fans who remember seeing Pedro Martinez or Randy Johnson pitch during their Hall of Fame careers. But both pitchers relied heavily on location and movement of the ball to get out hitters. While faster balls can be more effective weapons against left-handed batters, right-handers still have plenty of opportunities to drive them away from the park.
It's also worth mentioning that while faster balls are useful tools for pitchers, they can also be detrimental to their health. A study published in August 2017 by The Cooper Institute found that there is an increased risk of injury to pitchers who throw over 100 innings per year if they switch from a two-seam to a four-seam fastball.
But despite the changes, there's no evidence to suggest that baseball's hardest ball has ever been too soft. On the contrary, statistics show that the average speed of MLB pitches has been increasing over time, especially since 2000 when radar guns were installed at every major league stadium. That means coaches and managers should be able to adjust accordingly if necessary.
So there you have it. These are the new baseball regulations that will be implemented in the 2021 season. "These experimental regulations are meant to put more balls in play, generate more excitement on the basepaths, and boost the effect of speed and agility on the field," said MLB senior vice president of on-field operations Raul Ibanez (yes, THAT Raul Ibanez). "We believe if players know what to expect, the game will be faster and more exciting for all fans.
As you can see, there are a lot of changes coming to baseball this year. The new rules should make for a more aggressive sport that will appeal to more fans. That being said, there is always room for improvement so if you have any ideas or suggestions about the new rules, feel free to let us know in the comments section below.
Pitchers used to produce their own balls, according to a 1975 New York Times story. Knowing this, it's not surprising that Baseball-Reference.com recounts stories of baseballs that ranged in size and weight and were considerably softer than current balls. The National League was established in 1876. Pitchers began producing their own balls that year so they could have more control over the ball used in their games.
According to the article, John Clarkson bought a ball factory in Upstate New York and hired several dozen former minor leaguers as ball makers. They made balls that were too hard for major league use but suitable for college play and other games where softballs were common at the time. The factory also made balls for horses. Yes, really!
Clarkson sold the factory after one season because he couldn't keep up with the demand for hardballs. However, people still buy them today to make custom balls. There are even some who claim that their ball was used by Tom Seaver or Sandy Koufax during their career due to its resemblance to the ball they usually used during that time period.
In 2008, a writer for The Wall Street Journal discovered a company in North Carolina that makes balls for collectors and sports teams. The company's founder, Bill Kennedy, says he originally started making balls for golf courses around 1990 because they didn't make enough small balls for practice purposes.
When Major League Baseball announced last year that it would extend the designated hitter rule to National League ballparks in order to reduce players' workloads, the demise of America's national pastime in its original form looked to be a foregone conclusion. But thanks to the ingenuity of some of baseball's most accomplished pitchers, the art of pitching has been saved once again.
Prior to the implementation of the DH in American League parks in 1973, there were only two ways for a pitcher to contribute to his team's offense: by hitting with the bat and by running the bases. In an effort to make baseball more appealing to fans of other sports such as football and basketball, who found the idea of seeing their favorite players take the mound ridiculous, the MLB decided to expand the role of pitchers by allowing them to bat during times at the plate when they are not throwing balls or strikes. As part of its attempt to make baseball more competitive, the National League adopted this rule before the American League could do so.
Since its inception, baseball has been a game dominated by right-handed batters. This is because the ball was pitched from the pitcher's mound until 1887, when it was hit with a left-handed bat and thrown with a right-handed arm - thus creating the modern era of baseball. The DH allows pitchers to participate in games on a level playing field with their right-handed counterparts.
According to Nathan's estimates, a little adjustment like this may add only approximately 6 inches to the flight of a baseball hit on a conventional home run trajectory. However, the time of these changes to the weight and density of the core coincides with a significantly higher increase in the ball's bouncyness. This means that more energy is stored as elastic strain in the ball itself, which can later be released when it hits the ground.
In other words, if you want to maximize the distance that your home runs travel, you should swing for the fences, but also play some deep center field.