World Series: Dodgers, Astros pitchers weigh in on slick baseball controversy –

HOUSTON — After Game 4 of the 2017 World Series Saturday night, a report broke that several players and coaches from both teams have been complaining about the baseballs. Notably, the balls are more slick than the ones during the regular season — which we’ve been hearing have been “juiced” (Read: Wound tighter to travel further) since around the 2015 All-Star break. 

We know home runs have been up everywhere. This isn’t a case of a few guys straying from the pack and turning heads. The 2017 season shattered the previous record for home runs in a season. We’re seeing more guys hit at least 10 and at least 20 than ever before. 

Now with supposedly slicker balls in the World Series, homers are even more up. A stat noted by Tom Verducci in his report is that there has been a home run every 17.5 at-bats, which is a much higher rate than even the 2017 regular season (one every 27.1 at-bats). Again, that was against the regular season with the highest rate of home runs ever. 

Game 6 starters Justin Verlander (Astros) and Rich Hill (Dodgers) weighed in on Sunday afternoon with contrasting answers. 

Verlander has been a bit outspoken on the issue and he remained as much here. 

“I don’t know what I’d like done,” he said. “I think with anybody, all you can ask for is consistency. I think over the years the numbers speak for themselves. I know Mr. Manfred said the balls haven’t changed, but I think there’s enough information out there to say that’s not true. Whether he has the say-so or not, I don’t know.

“I think we just want consistency. Whether the balls are juiced or not, hey, I’m pitching with the same ball everybody else is pitching with. That’s a fair and even playing field.

“But I think the main complaint is that the balls seem a little bit different in the postseason, and even from the postseason to the World Series balls. They’re a little slick. You just deal with it. But I don’t think it’s the case of one pitcher saying, hey, something is different here. I think as a whole everybody is saying, whoa, something is a little off here.

“So on one hand you can have somebody say that manufactures the ball, they’re not different. And on the other hand you can say that the people that have held a ball in their hand their entire life, saying it’s different, you value one over the other. You take your pick.”

It’s difficult to argue much with anything Verlander’s saying. It’s not like he’s making any excuses or anything. He’s been pitching very well this entire postseason and made sure to point out everyone is using the same balls. 

Hill, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to think there has been much difference. 

“No, not really,” Hill said when asked if he felt like the balls were different from the regular season to postseason. “I think they’ve been extremely consistent in the World Series, and also in the playoff games, as well. So I haven’t really seen too much of a difference or variation in seams or any size of the ball. I know there was talk about different sizes and some of the baseballs were slightly bigger and some were smaller. Some of the seams were higher, some of the seams were lower. But, no, it’s been consistent.” 

As for the balls being slicker? 

“I think that just has to do with conditions — if it’s colder it’s going to be slicker,” Hill said. “If it’s a little bit warmer out or humid, I think you’re going to find that you’re going to have a little bit more of moisture to the baseballs.”  

This is an odd answer. The World Series has been played on two of the hottest days in World Series history and two games to this point inside. There haven’t been cold games to create slicker balls. 

Regardless, Verlander wants consistency, but now we just got two totally different answers from pitchers who are constantly holding the baseballs. 

Time to just throw our hands up in the air, make like Cousin Eddie and say, “I don’t know,” right? 

Expect to hear plenty more about this in the coming days and then months. 


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