Another problem with these baseballs? Evidently some are warped

Rob Bradford
June 12, 2018 - 10:06 pm

BALTIMORE -- Baseballs have been a huge topic of late.

The actual piece of equipment used by Major League Baseball has come under intense scrutiny since the rise in home runs over the past two years. MLB implemented its own independent investigation, finding a change in aerodynamic properties of the baseball, but no significant change in regularly measured ball properties.

Then The Athletic published a piece suggesting the biggest issue was a change in the laces used by Rawlings, meticulously taking apart baseballs from the past few years for comparison.

But when the subject came up Tuesday in the Red Sox clubhouse there was one issue with the baseballs that separated themselves from all others.

"I'm getting more warped balls than ever before," said one pitcher, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Sometimes when a hitter puts the ball in play I will get it back and it will have a different shape to it. The other day I had to throw two straight balls back in because of it."

Another pitcher offered a similar example.

"Opening Day in Tampa we got a ball back into the dugout and it was almost flat on one side," he said. "I've never seen anything like it."

The pitchers said the problem has been a topic of conversation, both in their own clubhouse and throughout baseball. And the universal opinion is that this season has offered more examples anyone can remember.

According to the players, it is a reality that is made more baffling considering a growing narrative: the baseballs are wound tighter than ever.

"It's frustrating because what if I don't catch it," noted one Sox pitcher. "I don't really have a plan for throwing a baseball that's not round."

When asked if such an issue had been surfaced during any of its investigations, an MLB spokesperson said in an email to WEEI.com that the discrepancy has not been on the league's radar.

"While we are not aware of such an issue beyond deformities that result from prolonged overuse, we will track it in line with our protocols," the spokesperson wrote.

It is interesting to note that Major League Baseball recently purchased the company that produces all of its baseballs, Rawlings, earlier this month. That is a dynamic that should be scrutinized going forward considering all checks and balances will now be coming from inside MLB.

Whether it's the laces, the ball's composition or a lack of breaking in the baseballs (which was another complaint that has cropped up this season), there is a universal take from those who actually rely on the equipment: these things are different than ever have been.

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