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Old 08-20-2019, 05:51 PM
Bijou Drains is offline
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Why are baseballs changed so often?


I know money is not really a factor in the major leagues for baseballs. But it seems that anything happens to a ball , it is no longer used. In the dirt, ball is hit, and so on they put a new ball into play. Do they really need a brand new ball that often? Are they thinking even a minor scuff on the ball helps the pitcher?
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Bijou Drains View Post
Do they really need a brand new ball that often? Are they thinking even a minor scuff on the ball helps the pitcher?
Yes.

http://www.sportsonearth.com/article...ineda-pine-tar

This was written by a former pitcher. Apparently once a ball is scuffed it can be used to change the way it moves in the air. It’s considered one of the best ways a pitcher can cheat. If you’re giving him a scuffed ball, you’re basically helping him cheat as a pitcher.

“The first thing to know about a scuffed ball is that, once scuffed, the ball will break in the opposite direction of the scuff. You want to scuff the flat, wide, seam-free surfaces of the ball when you can, and try to make sure that you get a consistent scuff. You don't need a gash. Deeper is not necessarily better -- wider is. Surface area matters, and the wider the patch, the more run or tail you can get.”
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:03 PM
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Back in 1987 Joe Niekro got suspended for having an emery board for scuffing balls. Video here.
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:23 PM
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I've heard recently that a lot of modern pitchers don't like a scuffed ball because they get so little practice with one that they don't know how to throw it properly and don't know what it will do. Not sure how true this is, but it makes sense.

Let's say you're a major league pitcher who's movement is a little lacking. You can practice with a scuffed ball and get really good at controlling it (ala Niekro). But how many times in an actual game are you actually going to get to throw that pitch? The rest of the time, you're just a pitcher with too little movement and you're living in dinger city.

Not conducive to a long career. You'd be much better off just learning how to get better movement with a clean baseball. But now you don't need (or even want) a scuffed ball because you don't know what to do with it. Hang one because you screwed up and...you're on Sports Center as the batter rounds the bases.
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Atamasama View Post
“The first thing to know about a scuffed ball is that, once scuffed, the ball will break in the opposite direction of the scuff.
In cricket, which regards natural wear of the ball (over around 500 "pitches") as intrinsic to the game, this is termed natural swing.
If the ball gets really scuffed, with appropriate care then about a third/half way through it's game-life the ball can begin to swing (break) the other way i.e. towards the scuffed side which is termed reverse swing.

Last edited by penultima thule; 08-20-2019 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 08-21-2019, 04:43 AM
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Originally Posted by penultima thule View Post
In cricket, which regards natural wear of the ball (over around 500 "pitches") as intrinsic to the game, this is termed natural swing.
If the ball gets really scuffed, with appropriate care then about a third/half way through it's game-life the ball can begin to swing (break) the other way i.e. towards the scuffed side which is termed reverse swing.
There's more to it than that - the fielding team will deliberately polish one side of the ball on their clothes whenever they get the chance, in order to increase swing. Polishing the ball on your clothes is legal, and you can tell who's been doing it by the red streak on their hip, but deliberately damaging the ball on the other side is not legal.
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Old 08-21-2019, 10:24 AM
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Weirdly, a batted ball that results in an out is used again (if it doesn't touch dirt i assume). I'm also going to assume a scuff from a bat isn't the same as a scuff from the dirt.
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Old 08-21-2019, 10:43 AM
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Weirdly, a batted ball that results in an out is used again (if it doesn't touch dirt i assume). I'm also going to assume a scuff from a bat isn't the same as a scuff from the dirt.
What's even stranger is that isn't the dirt used in baseball really fine and generally free of all rocks? How much more abrasive can that be than crushing the ball with a swung bat?
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Old 08-21-2019, 10:50 AM
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A nice bright clean ball is easier for the batter to see, and pick up the rotation on.

There is also a safety aspect - a really dirty ball would be hard for a batter to see, and if it were coming towards his head, he might not get out of the way in time.
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Old 08-21-2019, 11:28 AM
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Ray Chapman

He was hit by a pitch and killed. It was believed that the ball was so dirty he couldn’t see it and wasn’t able to get out of the way. His death was one reason baseballs began to be replaced after they started to get dirty.
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Old 08-21-2019, 11:44 AM
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Ray Chapman

He was hit by a pitch and killed. It was believed that the ball was so dirty he couldn’t see it and wasn’t able to get out of the way. His death was one reason baseballs began to be replaced after they started to get dirty.
Yep, Chapman's death was arguably a catalyst - maybe *the* catalyst - that led to the end of the dead ball era. In those days, balls were reused, scuffed and often covered with dirt. Accounts of that time suggest it was really hard to get good wood on a pitch. Hitters found it hard to hit for power and instead tried to hit for average by choking up on the bat and making contact toward the holes in the infield. They swung down at the ball before leveling out as the bat crossed the plate.

After Chapman's death, cleaner baseballs were used, and then there was some guy named Ruth who played for New York. Their trajectory was more predictable, though the really good pitchers undoubtedly still knew how to tinker with the balls.

Last edited by asahi; 08-21-2019 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 08-21-2019, 04:25 PM
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Am I the only one skeptical that a little ole scuff mark made by a pitcher is gonna make any difference, that in fact there is no way such a thing would cause a baseball to move any differently to the degree that it could be noticed by the naked eye? Now, mind you, I'm not saying it won't, I'm just saying I'll only believe it when I see it. And I'm speaking in regard to the admittedly subjective amount of actual scuffing a pitcher thought he could get away with. I found this ridiculous piece of fluff which proves nothing, in that they literally took a cheese grater to a baseball. Can anyone find something more convincing?*

*And don't make me start a thread about the usefulness/effectiveness of "framing" a pitch in fooling an umpire. If an umpire is that blind, he has no business behind the plate in the first place.

Last edited by Fiddle Peghead; 08-21-2019 at 04:29 PM.
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