The Yankees and Astros fall under the umbrella and behest of MLB. Neither team manufactures game balls. Why weren’t they told the baseballs are different…
The Yankees and Astros are wondering if the baseballs used in the ALCS are dead. On the surface, what’s the big deal if the balls are dead, as long as both teams use the same ball (remember Tom Brady‘s “Deflategate” NFL fiasco).
A.J. Hinch, the manager of the Houston Astros, has what I believe is a practical, if not discerning, approach to the ever-changing constitution of a baseball:
In other words, don’t worry about something you can’t control. Which might be sage advice for Didi Gregorius, who hit a towering fly to right field that seemed destined to land in Yankee Stadium’s short porch, only to fall easily into the glove of Josh Reddick (video here).
Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell
No one on either the Yankees or Astros wants to touch this one. Gregorius did backflips after the game, going extreme by offering “it was his fault” the ball didn’t go out.
Besides, ballplayers learn to adapt to anything and everything. From dealing with delayed flights, rude fans, demanding reporters, missed family affairs, to late-arriving laundry at the hotel, a different baseball is just another annoying facet of the life they have chosen.
On the right is an image of the baseball used for the 2019 All-Star Game. It’s stamped as such, which means it had to have come from a different barrel than the balls used in the regular season. Balls used for postseason games are also stamped accordingly.
Baseballs And Cables Within Spec – But Slightly Different
I know from working as a Quality Control Manager for a cable manufacturer that cables of the same kind can look the same, but they will vary from day to day’s production.
The same terminal in a connector may be seeded ideally one day while on another day, a different operator or machine set differently can result in the same terminal – still within spec – being seeded “a bit off.” So it is with manufactured baseballs as well.
A variance must be accepted when it comes to producing baseball. My issue isn’t that.
Instead, my concern is that MLB (apparently) chose to introduce a “new” baseball into the postseason – on the sly. They told neither the Yankees nor the Astros, and the teams that came before them.
And before we go any further with this, in no way does this excuse the horrid hitting of the Yankees in the previous two games. Josh Reddick’s shot was a home run using a beach ball.
MLB Cheapens The Game
No, the concern has to be MLB’s cheapening of the game by the covert nature of their behavior – and then to compound the problem by insisting every baseball is the same. Period, the end.
Even McDonald’s had the courtesy to tell us they were selling “Veggie burgers,” even though if we believe their ads for the new product preaching, “they’re the same,” we would know the difference?
The NFL doesn’t move the goalposts for the Superbowl or change the football’s dimensions (as far as we know).
Do you think, for instance, Aaron Boone would continue to keep Gary Sanchez in his lineup because he believes Sanchez is going to “catch one,” hitting it out of sight, just as he did during the regular season – if he knew the ball is different?
While players and managers, as we have seen, are more apt to accept these inconsistencies for fear of possible retribution, fans will be more discerning.
We assume the bases are still ninety feet apart. And unlike balls and strike calls, which we know is a subjective art and not a science (yet), we assume a baseball used on the 4th of July is the same baseball as the one used on September 26.
MLB, just be upfront with us if you change the rules in the middle of a game. That’s not too much to ask, is it?