There’s been a lot of talk about something being up with the World Series baseballs. Are they different than the ones used in the regular season?
Even with some of the toughest pitchers to hit against in baseball, the 2017 World Series between the Astros and Dodgers has been looking more like the Home Run Derby.
“It does seem like the balls are jumping more,” said Dave Roberts, Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, before Sunday’s Game 5. “The pitchers talk about it does feel different in their hand.”
“I think the main complaint is that the balls seem a little bit different in the postseason and even from the postseason to the world series balls,” said Justin Verlander, Astros pitcher. “They’re a little slick.”
A photo taken over the weekend by Sports Illustrated reporter Tom Verducci shows Astros pitching coach Brent Strom holding both a regular season baseball and a World Series ball side by side.
In the article posted on SI.com, Verducci writes that even though the regular season ball had not been prepared with the specialty mud umpires or other use to reduce shine & slickness, the World Series ball still “felt noticeably different” and was “slicker to the touch”.
“We just want consistency, whether the balls are juiced or not,” said Verlander. “I’m pitching with the same ball that everybody else is pitching with, so that’s a fair and even playing field.”
In response to emailed questions about the players’ and managers’ concerns over the World Series baseballs, Michael Teevan with Major League Baseball’s Commissioner’s Office sent the following statement:
“World Series baseballs are tested at the time of manufacturing and are made from the same materials and to the same specifications as regular season baseballs. The only difference is the gold stamping on the baseballs.”
Some pitchers, like the Dodgers’ Rich Hill, say they haven’t noticed much difference pitching in the postseason, calling the baseballs “extremely consistent” throughout the postseason.
Hill says weather conditions play a factor in pitching performance.
“It’s colder,” said Hill. “It’s gonna be slicker. If it’s a little bit warmer out or humid, I think you’re gonna find that you’re gonna have a little bit more of moisture to the baseballs.”
UH Physics professor Dr. Lawrence Pinsky told KHOU that hotter, more humid weather makes the ball go faster and farther because there’s less air resistance. He also says those conditions make sliders and curveballs tougher to throw.
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