The Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) executives finally admitted on Tuesday that they changed the design of the ball used in the professional league, locally called Puro Yakyuu. The confession came after months of continuous denial to the baseball community, where fans and players alike were left bewildered with the sudden rise of home runs this season.
Compared to the previous season’s 881, batters this season have already hit 512 home runs in just 341 games. Mizuno, NPB’s sole provider and manufacturer of baseballs, was asked to “adjust” the ball and also charged to stay mum. “We thought it would cause confusion if we let it be known,” explained Kunio Shimoda, NPB General-Secretary. Kyodo News Agency reported that according to Mizuno, the adjustment was intended to balance the large number of home runs hit by foreign batters, as well as make the sport more “exciting.”
The fascinating 40 percent increase in home runs, an average of 1.50 runs, this season had the Japan Professional Baseball Players’ Association questioning. “Our understanding was that it would be a matter of fine-tuning,” Shimoda stated on Tuesday. Although batters may be enjoying their slugging percentage as well as having at least a .300 batting average this season, the same cannot be said for pitchers who have their ERA record getting worse.
NPB Commissioner Ryozo Kato had kept saying that the baseballs “have not been changed,” but now that Nippon Professional Baseball came out clean, it is not surprising if the baseball community, especially the fans, expects him to step down from his post.
[via The Republic]