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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Rabbit Hole: Centering the Pill

In any case, I decided look a little bit at some of the lively ball discussions of the past. I thought it would take a few minutes. It took a little bit longer than that.

Down the rabbit hole we go to look at a brief history, real and imagined, of the rabbit ball.

Very lengthy but fascinating.  Bring on the scientists!

Perry Posted: May 30, 2018 at 10:12 PM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: juiced ball, posnanski

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   1. Omineca Greg Posted: June 01, 2018 at 12:11 PM (#5684036)
This is a good article. It is long though, I read it in several sessions.

Just to get some conversation started, I'll quote this passage...

We end this Rabbit Hole with a story of a league that secretly that saw a huge decrease in offense and wanted a solution. They decided to tinker with the baseball. The league, as you no doubt guessed, is not MLB. It’s the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan.

In 2011, Japan switched baseballs to make it more like the baseballs used in the United States. The NPB asked Mizuno to create a ball with a similar pill to the Rawlings ball and with wider seams. They thought this would help Japan when playing in international competitions like the World Baseball Classic.

The new Mizuno ball was dead. It’s unclear why, but it was dead — nobody could hit the thing. Japanese baseball is mostly not about power; it’s much more of a speed and defense game, not unlike American baseball in the 1970s. But there has always been a special place in Japanese fans’ hearts for the home run hitters. The league hit 700 fewer home runs in 2011, the first years of the new ball. The next year, the total went down again. It was a disaster.

And so the NPB quietly asked Mizuno to, in the word of NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato, “adjust” the ball so that it had a bit more bounce. The key word was, “quietly.” They didn’t want the change to go public.

“We thought it would cause confusion if we let it be known,” NPB secretary Kunio Shimoda told the Bangkok Post.

The ploy worked … too well. Home runs jumped 40% overnight. This was a much bigger jump than the NPB wanted or expected.

“Our understanding was that it would be a matter of fine-tuning,” Shimoda said.

Instead, Japanese baseball was turned upside down and everyone KNEW that there was something different about the ball. For months, officials denied that there was anything different about the baseball. But it couldn’t last. There were tests. In the end, they came clean. People were angry; they felt duped. Players were angry — they had been paid based on the performance using the old ball.

Kato resigned at the end of the season.

“I caused a lot of problems,” he said, “over the ball.”

Is the bolded part true? If you liked 70s baseball should you be watching NPB and having a better time? I'm assuming it's at least partially true or he wouldn't say it...
   2. Sunday silence Posted: June 01, 2018 at 11:16 PM (#5684429)
If you liked 70s baseball should you be watching NPB and having a better time?

well, "no." You see they changed the ball to make it more like the Roidball of the 90s.
   3. Omineca Greg Posted: June 01, 2018 at 11:24 PM (#5684431)
Oh, Joe is using the present tense in the "Japanese baseball is mostly not about power; it’s much more of a speed and defense game, not unlike American baseball in the 1970s" quote so I thought that they might have changed it back to a more neutral ball. So, after all the hand wringing and resignation of the commissioner they just left it like that? Probably I'm missing something...

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