Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner Ryozo Kato met with representatives from the league’s 12 teams on Friday and apologized for concealing the baseball’s design used in the league this season. Japan’s baseball community, including the media, has been asking NPB regarding the sudden increase of home runs this season. Kato has kept saying that the balls “have not been changed”, until Tuesday when Japan’s baseball executives finally admitted changing the balls to add “excitement” to the game.
Kato admitted causing “a lot of trouble for the fans, players and people connected to the game” during the meeting. Mizuno, the sole manufacturer of the league’s baseballs, was even charged to remain silent about the change. Because of the secret change made by NPB, a surge of home runs resulted to 40 percent increase, as of Tuesday, compared to the previous season’s homerun result. In the first 341 games of the season, 512 homers were already scored. There were 881 homers in 2012 and 939 in 2011.
People in the baseball community, including players, have criticized the commissioner for NPB’s lack of transparency. There are also some expecting resignation from Kato, but the commissioner declared that he will not step down from his post. “Baseball is very important in Japan’s sporting culture and I have to carefully reflect on my responsibility to the game,” he said.