Ace Claims MLB Juicing Balls to Fill Seats [OPINION]
Baseball as we know it is suffering a slow and agonizing demise. The game is too slow, lasts too long and doesn't produce enough offense to make it exciting to young people who were born into high-speed internet and life-like video games.
Major League Baseball continues to struggle to fill stadiums and has tried a number of ways to adjust the game, but short attention spans make it difficult to attract new fans and hang on to the old ones. One of the two games the Red Sox and Yankees played in London recently lasted for more than four and a half hours. Who has four and a half hours these days to sit on a couch in front of a TV, watching baseball?
Expansion over the years has resulted in the need for more MLB-caliber players, and while there are some mighty talented ballplayers on the field, there are many more mediocre players. Mediocre players don't fill stadiums.
Veteran pitcher Justin Verlander says MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is pressuring players to provide more offense in order to keep the game interesting. Verlander, who now throws for the Astros, tells ESPN he suspects a recent spike in the number of home runs these days could be because the league has "juiced" or "altered" baseballs.
Verlander says MLB owns the company that produces the balls used in the games. “It’s a f------ joke. Major League Baseball’s turning this game into a joke," he said. "They own Rawlings, and you’ve got Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the f------ company.”
Major League Baseball has yet to respond to Verlander's comments.
Baseball has largely become a victim of the times. Back in the day, we found it relaxing to sit through a nine-inning game or even a doubleheader at Fenway Park. Today, it is boring and torturous to endure. Football, basketball, and even soccer provide a faster pace for today's restless sports fans.
I'm not sure there is a way to save baseball without altering the game beyond recognition. Perhaps the next generation will cheer as the fielders tackle baserunners and balls are pitched at laser speed by robotic arms. Who knows?
If the MLB is juicing baseballs in order to provide more offense, it should knock it off. Becoming a home run king by batting altered baseballs over the centerfield wall is every bit as dishonest as players using PEDs.
If we have reached that level, it may be time to turn the lights out on Major League Baseball altogether.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.