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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