By now, we may have all heard about some complaints by teams and players around the MLB this year with regards to implementation of the new pitch clock rule. However, there now is another aspect to the game that appears to be affecting the integrity of the game itself.
Philadelphia Phillies’ reliever Matt Strahm recently joined WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the Audacy Original Podcast “Baseball Isn’t Boring” to discuss about the current state of the actual baseballs being used in major league games. Apparently, the baseballs are so bad that they are among the worst in the game as it stands.
"That’s the worst thing in our game right now is the baseballs. It is atrocious. You reach your hand in and don’t know if you’re grabbing a tennis ball or a youth baseball … As a pitcher, I make a living with that thing in my hand, so I’m very familiar with it … When you give me a baseball I can feel if it’s a hard ball or a soft one … (but now) There’s no consistency whatsoever …You get a dozen (balls), three of them are going to have high seams, three of them are going to low seams, three of them are going to have spaced-out seams, and the others are going to be lopsided."
Strahm’s teammate Aaron Nola ran into that issue recently, as when he consistently asked for new balls because they weren’t feeling right, it had been viewed as a pitch clock violation, which enraged Strahm. To a pitcher, getting the right grip and spin with the baseball in hand can have a direct effect on the overall outcome of the pitch to be delivered. Otherwise, the ball may not locate to the area in which the pitcher targets, which could often lead to unexpected and disastrous results.
So as much as players have been complaining about the possibility of the pitch clock affecting pitchers and injuries around the MLB this year, with so many proven pitchers performing so poorly this year, along with some of them getting frequent blisters in their hands, perhaps it could be the actual baseballs themselves that have had the worst adverse effects on the pitcher’s performance and well-being overall. If this holds true, it is definitely something that’s worth monitoring down the road, and should not be overlooked to maintain the integrity of the game.