Playing for the New York Yankees must’ve been especially wild in 2021, huh?
Way too much turmoil and regression for our taste. COVID absences. Sticky balls, then suddenly non-sticky balls. Everything changing at the drop of a hat, per Rob Manfred’s extremely interesting and valid whims.
Oh, and then there was the post-season admission of something we all already knew: ESPN broadcast or a special event game? Well, then, you were lucky enough to get the juiced baseballs.
And if we knew that as observers, it should come as no surprise that the players who weighed the balls in their hands daily knew it, too.
Anthony Rizzo reunited with his former Chicago Cubs teammates on Jomboy Media’s “The Compound” this week to pal around, talk about his time in New York (he loved it, except the Ubers), and address the offseason malaise.
Perhaps the most interesting part to us, though, was his brazen (and definitely salty) sarcasm about Manfred and Co. sneaking juiced balls into certain Yankees showcase games.
Yankees free agent Anthony Rizzo lit into MLB over their juiced ball fiasco.
As Rizzo put it snark-ily on the podcast, during a discussion about the weather conditions at Wrigley Field and the dimensions in Detroit:
"“Next year, when you’re in the box in April and it’s cold and it’s 20 degrees, you go … ‘Hmm … I wonder if this is a dead ball or a juiced ball? What’s the league comin’ at us today with? Are we goin’ the Iowa game where the balls were flying out like they were golf balls, or are we gonna go Wrigley Field in April with the wind blowing in?’ … The big games, you know you’re getting the juiced balls, for sure.”"
Rizzo was, of course, watching that particular game from home; the first baseman was still recovering from a COVID diagnosis when the Yankees traveled to the cornfield to battle the White Sox, ending with Tim Anderson flicking a baseball into right field and watching it float like a balloon.
Aaron Judge, in both the third and ninth, and Giancarlo Stanton also tested the limits of the special event baseballs, with eight home runs in total leaving the yard. What an extremely normal thing!
While Rizzo is taking a semi-sarcastic look at a serious problem, it’s also clear he knows it’s no laughing matter.
Weren’t we told that steroids ruined the game and gave players an unfair advantage? Well, what about using easier-to-hit baseballs in certain marquee games? It raises players’ power numbers and poisons pitchers. Won’t that change their earning power once free agency comes around? Doesn’t it turn baseball into the farce that performance-enhancing drugs always threatened to create?
And can’t pitchers get hurt? If sticky stuff and its sudden absence created an injury risk, what about unsanctioned, lighter moon-balls?
We’re glad Rizzo felt comfortable bringing it up, but the MLB offseason labor fight is about to get a very valid injection of players clamoring for uniformity with the baseball, and we’re not sure Manfred is ready for the battle.