What’s wrong with the ball? Nobody seems to know. After Major League Baseball put together a committee to investigate the juiced balls that seemed to plague the sport, that committee reported Wednesday that it had no idea as to why the ball seemed juiced.
There is supporting evidence that the aerodynamic properties of the baseballs have changed, both from laboratory measurements and from analysis of StatCast/Trackman trajectories, both for pitched and batted balls, the committee’s report said.
Still, MLB has a means of treating the symptom without addressing the cause. The Rockies and (recently) the Diamondbacks have taken to storing their balls in a humidor, a climate-controlled room specially designed to control the humidity at which the baseballs are stored, and the committee recommends that MLB carefully monitor the humidity levels.
According to MLB’s study, humidity affects the baseball’s coefficient of restitution (COR), a factor in determining the springiness of the baseball, significantly. In extreme cases, says the study, . . . flight distance can increase by 56 feet with a dramatic decrease in humidity. Such an effect is unlikely to present itself in the real world, but in terms of marginal results, changes in humidity can result in more balls that might have been flyouts going yard.
The whole thing still doesn’t make much sense. How did Canseco muff this so badly? He tracked it the whole way, he reached up to catch it, then just had it bop right off the top of his head and over the fence. It does look like he realized at the last second that the wall was imminent and turned his head slightly to look, which led to the big bonk.
Most outfielders know to keep an arm outstretched as a feeler when they sense the wall is close, but apparently Canseco just misjudged everything about the play. I’ve never researched it, but I’m guessing his fine in kangaroo court was probably in excess of $1,000.
Anyway, the head-assisted home run isn’t one of those all-time-great baseball events, but it also kinda is. And it’s never going away. But Canseco seems OK with that.
To be honest with you, that first inning I had the sun right in my face, I don’t know what it was, Estrada said. There was a little opening at the top part of the stadium. I had no idea where the ball was going. It was really hard to see. Once that went away, I started making better pitches. Just elevated a lot. A lot of fastballs today up in the zone. That’s a really good lineup over there. I’ve struggled against them. Good to give the guys some innings and keep them in the game, but just came up short.