The ball. Every year it’s something with the freaking ball.
The current season is only three weeks old, and already the ball is the subject of two debates — whether it’s too dead and whether its surface is too inconsistent, creating frustration for pitchers with their grips, particularly in cold weather.
Nearly four years ago, Major League Baseball bought 25 percent of Rawlings, the company that manufactures the ball. You’d think by now, even with the interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the issues would be settled. You’d think the league would be using a ball with a ready-made sticky surface similar to the pre-tacked versions used in Japan and Korea. But no, we’re not there yet.
At this point, it might behoove the league to create a department focusing exclusively on the ball, overseen by a Lord of the Seams. Clearly, the league needs to better communicate with players — stop me if you’ve heard that one before — and offer full transparency on all ball-related issues.
I mean, I can’t imagine the Officer of the Commissioner enjoys seeing quotes like the ones that came out of the Mets’ clubhouse on Tuesday night.
“MLB has a very big problem with the baseballs,” Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt told reporters. “They’re bad. Everyone knows it. Every pitcher in the league knows it. They’re bad. They don’t care. MLB doesn’t give a damn about it. They don’t care. We’ve told them our problems with them. They don’t care.”
Added Mets catcher James McCann: “My take is it’s 2022. There’s enough technology out there to figure out the baseball. We want to talk about juiced balls, dead balls, slick balls, sticky balls. It’s 2022. We should have an answer.”
Bravo! Except for one thing. Not all pitchers agree the ball is a problem. Some believe the introduction this season of an official rosin bag is helping alleviate the grip concerns caused by the crackdown on illegal sticky substances that the league initiated last June. The 8-ounce Honduran Pine rosin bags manufactured by Pelican are subject to strict chain-of-custody protocols and are the responsibility of a specific clubhouse staff member at each major-league park.