CLEVELAND (CBSDFW.COM) – Houston Astros All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander went off on baseballs the day before the All-Star Game in Cleveland, where he will be the starting pitcher for the American League on Tuesday night.
Verlander, who has been giving up homers routinely this season, says he believes a “juiced ball” is the reason.
Verlander has given up 26 home runs so far in 2019. Most of them have been solo home runs. He gave up 28 home runs in all of 2018.
A combination of changes, including reduced seams and a more-centered “pill,” have made the ball more aerodynamic — capable of carrying further and at higher speeds than past iterations. Hence the league-wide home-run barrage that is threatening seemingly every record on the books.
For the most part, pitchers have remained quiet on the matter.
That changed Monday when Verlander used the All-Star Game to air his grievances with MLB and the new baseball.
Here’s part of what Verlander said, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan:
“It’s a f—ing joke,” said Verlander, an eight-time All-Star who is starting his second All-Star Game on Tuesday. “Major League Baseball’s turning this game into a joke. They own Rawlings, and you’ve got 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.”
Over the course of the first half of the regular season, teams homered 1.37 times per game; the record high entering this season was 1.26 times per game, set in 2017.
This isn’t the first time MLB has faced these accusations. Rather, the charge seems to pop up every 10 or so years, like clockwork, CBS Sports reported.
There was the rabbit-ball epidemic of the late-80s, a slew of allegations in the ’90s and ’00s and now this. (Japan had its own juiced ball scandal a few years ago — and the league later admitted to being behind it.)