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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Justin Verlander says balls used by MLB this year are ‘a f—ing joke’

Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander feels it is quite obvious that Major League Baseball has introduced balls over the past few seasons that are easier to hit out of the ballpark, and he thinks the change is despicable.

Verlander, who has been named the AL starter for Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on that he believes “100 percent” that MLB has implemented balls which result in more runs being scored, and he despises the trend. He also thinks the fact that MLB bought Rawlings — the supplier of the league’s official ball — last year says it all.

“It’s a f—ing joke,” Verlander said. “Major League Baseball’s turning this game into a joke. They own Rawlings, and you’ve got (MLB Commissioner Rob) Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the f—ing company. If any other $40 billion company bought out a $400 million company and the product changed dramatically, it’s not a guess as to what happened. We all know what happened.”

Verlander pointed to the fact that Manfred said when he took over as commissioner that he wanted to see more offense in the game.

“Manfred the first time he came in, what’d he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It’s not coincidence. We’re not idiots,” he said.

Manfred recently acknowledged the difference in the balls, but he denied that the league has had any involvement in changing their design. Verlander, who has still been plenty effective this year with a 10-4 record and 2.98 ERA, said the juiced balls have made him feel less confident on the mound.

“No matter who’s the batter, I feel like I’m constantly walking a tightrope, because any batter can go opposite field,” he said. Any batter can leave with any pitch that’s anywhere in the zone. You can’t miss barrels anymore. You have to miss bats.”

There were 3,691 home runs hit in the first half of the season, which puts the league on pace for 6,668. That would be more than 500 homers over the record of 6,105, which was set in 2017.

This isn’t the first time Verlander has called out MLB over the juiced balls, but he seems to have gotten more angry over it with time. Other pitchers just want Manfred to come clean, but admitting the balls have changed is probably as far as the commissioner is going to take it.



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