On Monday, Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander . To be more specific: Verlander dropped some expletives while alleging Major League Baseball was juicing the ball in order to increase offense and fan interest. Because our pithy description doesn't do Verlander's comments justice, let's repost an excerpt of what he said -- remember, you can read his comments in their entirety over at ESPN.com:
"It's a f---ing joke," said Verlander, an eight-time All-Star who is starting his second All-Star Game on Tuesday. "Major League Baseball's turning this game into a joke. They own Rawlings, and you've got Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the f---ing company. If any other $40 billion company bought out a $400 million company and the product changed dramatically, it's not a guess as to what happened. We all know what happened. Manfred the first time he came in, what'd he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It's not coincidence. We're not idiots."
Commissioner Rob Manfred and union director Tony Clark responded to Verlander on Tuesday as part of their standard All-Star Game media availability sessions. Predictably, Manfred pushed back against Verlander's allegation:
Manfred denied categorically that MLB has intentionally juiced-up the baseball for more home runs.— David Lennon (@DPLennon) July 9, 2019
“[MLB] has done nothing, given no direction for an alteration in the baseball … There is no desire on part of ownership to increase the number of home runs in the game."
Clark, for his part, acknowledged that the baseball has, in fact, changed.
Players union chief Tony Clark on the question of a juiced ball leading to HR increase: "I believe the ball suddenly changed. And I don’t know why.'— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) July 9, 2019
If you haven't been following baseball much this year, the reason the balls are a point of contention is-- more so, even, than during the Steroid Era. There is .
The "why" part is almost a secondary concern at this stage to the "how" -- as in, how MLB intends to correct the ball to protect the game's integrity. Right now, the "how' is lacking. And so Verlander and other pitchers have the right to be peeved about the whole thing. If dropping some four-letter words is the only way to get MLB to do something about what's going on, then so be it.