The news that Major League Baseball was using different baseballs last season was not a shock to San Francisco Giants outfielder Austin Slater.
According to Gabe Fernandez from SFGate, Slater said he was “actively discouraged” from sending baseballs away for testing, with the league threatening the jobs of any non-union team employees that sent balls to an outside laboratory. Fernandez further reported that text messages to an MLBPA official told the players to “back off.”
San Francisco Giants outfielder Austin Slater right to be suspicious
Slater became interested in the integrity of the balls after the 2021 season. While the league had maintained that the balls were all equal that season, a report revealed that two different balls were used. Commissioner Rob Manfred eventually admitted that the report was correct, saying those balls were different and that the league would use the same baseballs at every game in 2022.
That may not be the case. Another report from Insider showed that the league may have been using three different balls last season – the ‘juiced’ ball, the dead ball, and the “Goldilocks” ball which earned that nickname for being just right.
Issues with the baseballs are nothing new. Pitchers have been complaining about the balls for years, with problems about how slick the baseballs have been, varying heights for the seams, and the general feel of the ball. Hitters have said that hitting the balls was akin to hitting a wet sock. No one has been happy with the balls being used.
It would be one thing if these balls were all the same. Everyone would have a level playing field, having the same issues with each ball being used. But that is clearly not the case, with the league reportedly going so far as to threaten jobs if anyone was discovered to be helping to send balls to an outside lab. Those trust issues between the league and players are not getting any better.
San Francisco Giants outfielder Austin Slater had his suspicions about the baseballs being used. Those suspicions reportedly led to threats from the league.