It is driven by the pursuit of the most blunt of outcomes: strikeouts by pitchers and home runs by batters.
Players are taking 1.1 seconds more between pitches this year than last year, an unprecedented one-year jump in the 11 seasons such records are available.
Just three years ago we were talking about the bottom of an offensive trough in which runs per game sank to a 36-year full-season low.
Teams used a record 742 pitchers last year, an increase of 107 pitchers in 10 years.
The difference is how often those fly balls are going out of the park: from 9.5% to 13.7%. The jump in home runs began suddenly, and without explanation, in the second half of the 2015 season, leading to speculation that the ball is being manufactured or stored differently to fly farther.
“A lot of people think they are.” Asked if he believes the balls are livelier, Kimbrel said, “Come on. Have you seen how the balls have been flying the last two years? I don’t have a problem with it. But if the balls are harder, I think pitchers would like to know.”
Appropriately, the deciding run scored on a home run by Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers’ rookie first baseman who changed his swing in Class A two years ago to loft more balls.
Bellinger hit 19 home runs in his first 50 games, tying the major league record set way back … in 2016 by Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez.
The orginal article.
Although the latest spike’s origins are more murky, new data procured by The Ringer and presented below points back to the ball being involved again.
The strongest argument against the “Juiced ball” theory comes from MLB officials, who claim that the ball hasn’t changed.
There, the balls’ CORs were tested by firing them at 120 mph into a steel cylinder, six times each, which is considered the closest approximation of in-game collisions that wouldn’t destroy the ball.
The idea of elevating the ball isn’t new, but in the past year or two it seems to have made major headway in combating the common belief that it’s better to hit down on the ball.
The following year brought another rise in run-scoring, this time not just because the ball was replaced even more frequently, but because hitters looked around and realized that the new game deserved loftier goals than just putting the ball in play.
As Wright recounts, “The biggest factor in the big offensive leap in 1921 was traceable to a change in the approach of some hitters - they begin to shift from a general goal of hitting liners and hard grounders to driving more balls in the air.” Led by Babe Ruth, batters adapted to a bouncier, better-preserved, and lower-seamed ball and started swinging for the fences.
Yes, a Ken Rosenthal report from January 2015 revealed that MLB had brought up the idea of juicing the ball, and yes, it does seem somewhat suspicious that the ball began flying just when fans and officials were fretting about run-scoring falling to its lowest level in almost 40 years.
Just as my millennial mind explained how the dead ball came to life, 22nd-century fans might look back on the long-ball bonanza of the two-thousand-teens and believe that the baseball started it.
The orginal article.
As a former agent and team executive, I have no problem with LaVar Ball … yet.
This herd, which I also have referred to as the “Whisper crew,” consists of but is not limited to: parents, siblings, cousins, advisors, wives, girlfriends, high school or AAU coaches and assorted friends and associates from the player’s childhood, college or more recent times.
Agents serve many roles; one increasingly important role has become serving as the “No guy.” Players are constantly approached with requests for any number of things, from ticket requests to loans to business opportunities, etc.
Absent a strong figure in the player’s life to play this role, it becomes the agent’s job to be the “No guy,” to swat away requests that aren’t in the best interests of the player.
Speaking of agents, LaVar will be running that show as well, having formed Ball Sports Group with fledgling agent Harrison Gaines joining the team.
The LaVar Ball situation is not unique; it just comes with a higher profile, juiced by being in this age of constant media.
During my time with the Packers, I had a few interactions with family members calling to voice complaints about a variety of issues ranging from playing time to more personal concerns.
UCLA coach Steve Alford said that LaVar did stay out of Alford’s lane this past season, telling the LA Times: “He was terrific. He let me coach his son, didn’t get in the way at all.” While being deferential may seem a challenge for someone with as much gusto as LaVar, my sense is that he gets it.
The orginal article.
With Fraser near the bucket, Durant and Curry today take turns making the net dance to and fro, one after the other, Fraser rifling the ball back to them.
Nearby, a swarm of media surrounds Warriors head coach Steve Kerr; soon after, Kerr will retire to a nearby chair facing the court and train his blue eyes on that very net, which is now, finally, still, with Durant and Curry having clocked out, their damage done.
Over in Oakland, on the goal where Durant and Curry drill endless jumpers, they have to change the net out about every few weeks, estimates Eric Housen, the Warriors’ longtime equipment manager.
Nets are manufactured year-round and, from China, they journey to Spalding’s facility in Jefferson, Iowa, where they ship official on-court gear to all 30 NBA teams.
League rules stipulate that nets at arenas must be changed by every seventh home game, at a minimum, and that worn nets should be replaced immediately, though some arenas do so often – at Oracle Arena the nets are changed every game.
Spalding once made nets with nylon, an industry standard – hence the colloquial, “Nothing but nylon” – but players kept hanging on them to stretch, particularly during the national anthem not long before tipoff, and it would stretch the nets out, which didn’t look as good, so Spalding made a switch.
Spalding’s NBA nets feature what’s called an “Anti-whip” design, i.e. their tips contain polypropylene for extra strength so they don’t follow that exact motion that Kerr so adores.
So it is that today, after practice, after a few swishes more have poured in, Curry pauses on the right wing, looks at the basket and asks aloud to no one in particular, “Brand new net?” And indeed it is: crisp, bone-white, intact and installed that very morning by Housen, who dipped into the stash of 100 nets that he orders in bulk at the start of the season and can switch out in a couple minutes flat, because he has done this a time or two.
The orginal article.