You’re not going to believe this, but it appears that Rob Manfred is decidedly at it again.
Despite pledging that, after 2019’s rocket ball, the Commish would stop messing with the equipment, it seems that Manfred blessed us with some even more egregious behavior in 2022, putting the Yankees at the forefront of the controversy.
What’s worse than juicing every baseball and inflating home run numbers, only to deflate offense in the years that followed by sucking all the liquid out of the official MLB ball? Adding a juiced ball to only certain occasions.
Suspicions have run wild for quite a while, becoming meme-ified to the point of the baseball world at large assuming that special events like the Field of Dreams Game in the cornfield were given different balls to ensure maximum excitement.
Per a report from Bradford William Davis of Business Insider, in conjunction with Dr. Meredith Wills, it seems MLB increased the usage of a baseball that landed somewhere in between juiced and deceased in 2022. Specifically, they populated playoff games, special events … and Yankees games with the bouncy balls, especially in September during the head of Aaron Judge’s home run chase.
Check the chart.
New York Yankees, Aaron Judge used juiced baseballs in 2022
The good news? The Yankees don’t appear to have been given these balls all year long.
The bad news? Uh, look at August and September.
When MLB sensed something special could be happening in the Bronx, they began to supply the Yankees with these half-juiced balls as often as they could get away with down the stretch (per the scientific research).
Any Yankee fan worth their salt remembers how hideous those months actually were, outside of Judge’s production. The Yanks nearly face-planted out of the postseason as August continued, succumbing to seemingly every starting staff in the league. If the balls were as juiced as the research described, it didn’t seem to aid in their pursuit of victory very often.
That said, obviously this massive news dump from midway through the Arson Judge mania puts MLB’s leadership further into question, changes the calculus on a magical summer, and places the postseason under a microscope. Looking forward to this controversy being shoved under the rug in 2023, then replaced with a new controversy!