From Jose Canseco to J.J. Watt, everyone thinks MLB balls are juiced
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As balls sailed out of Major League ballparks in record fashion this past season, the whispers from disbelievers were drowned out by the roars of the longball-clamoring crowd.
But after Sunday’s World Series slugfest that saw a combined seven home runs with the Houston Astros finally prevailing 13-12 in 10 innings over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the whispers have turned to yells.
Retired slugger Jose Canseco, who wrote a book about a different kind of juicing, tweeted:
Retired pitcher and Twitter funnyman Dan Haren, who finished his career in 2015 with the Cubs, sent this message:
A few sports sites questioned the rise in home runs during the season, most notably The Ringer, which noted a sharp increase in home runs since the 2015 MLB All-Star break. The Ringer admitted that hitting approach has changed, and it’s tough to pinpoint one cause for the spike.
With all signs pointing to the ball, The Ringer tested balls from before and after the 2015 break:
The testing revealed significant differences in balls used after the 2015 All-Star break in each of the components that could affect the flight of the ball, in the directions we would have expected based on the massive hike in home run rate.
For those skeptical of the results, this World Series is changing minds.
The “juice drama” really gained steam after Game 2 when the teams combined for a record eight home runs. In all, the Dodgers and Astros have hit a combined 22 home runs in five games, breaking the previous record of 21 set by the San Francisco Giants and Anaheim Angels in 2002 during a seven-game series.
Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci reported several pitchers believed the World Series balls felt slicker than those used during the regular season.
Game 3 starter Lance McCullers took a blind test, feeling World Series and regular season balls. He was perfect in six tries.
“It’s 100 percent real,” McCullers told Yahoo Sports. “The balls are different. I don’t know what the difference is. If you write with a No. 2 pencil 10,000 times and someone gives you a pen, you’re gonna know the difference. This is our craft. This is what we do. We know. We feel the ball. Something has changed.”
It’s not just the pitchers in the game. The balls aren’t passing the eye test with players watching at home.
Blue Jays pitcher Brett Anderson tweeted:
Miami Marlins pitcher Brad Ziegler added:
Even Houston Texans star J.J. Watt, who plays with a much different ball, noticed something was awry during Game 5: