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Japanese baseball league swap out balls and hoped nobody noticed

  • David Whitlock


After home run totals in the (Japanese) Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league appeared to reach steroid era, i.e. 47% increases through 60 games, League officials finally admitted that they secretly substituted a “juiced” ball without telling anyone.  NPB (I guess) hoped nobody would notice, but it became the elephant in the room after the expected full season total was going to vastly exceed 1200 taters, vs. the usual 800-1000.

As league staff and players were interviewed, no clarity emerged, it seemed like a disjointed group of keystone cops (according to the AP via Fox Sports)

”There was absolutely no intent to hide the truth,” NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato said Wednesday. ”We are sorry for any inconvenience we have caused.”

”We had an idea something was different this season,” Rakuten Eagles catcher Motohiro Shima said Wednesday. ”Here we are almost 60 games into the season and now they tell us? It’s very unfortunate. If they stay with the new ball or go with the old ball, it is problematic at this point of the season.”

”Just my personal opinion, but that we are even having this discussion about the ball is embarrassing for Japanese baseball,” said Yomiuri catcher Shinnosuke Abe.

The substitution was made under the guise of league regulation

An NPB spokesman said the balls used last season did not meet certain standards and the new balls were introduced to conform to the rules.

“Certain standards” like “minimal amount of home runs” or “lots of bunting and stealing is boring”?

A Bangkok post article provided more clarity:

But on Tuesday the NPB came clean, saying it had asked manufacturer Mizuno to “adjust” the ball to give it greater bounce off the bat and had demanded the company keep quiet about the switch…. “We thought it would cause confusion if we let it be known.”

In other words, deny, deny, cover up, explain, apologize.

– David Whitlock (@lhd_on_sports)

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About The Author

David Whitlock

David Whitlock - manager

David (a.k.a. Longhorndave or lhd_on_sports) joined the staff late in the 2012 season and moved to Site Manager in early 2013. A lifelong Houston Astros fan (and mini-season ticket holder for 9 years) he attends 20+ games per year. A statistics freak, David still keeps score the "old fashioned way" on occasion (and has kept manual score of World Series games since 1986 and retains the sheets). He was a featured guest weekly on the Phil Naessens Show. He is also a Texas Longhorns alumnus and huge football and baseball fan of his alma mater. When he isn't watching or writing about baseball, he works as a contractor at NASA Johnson Space Center. He lives by the mantra "a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day anywhere else."

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