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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Another Error Mars Japanese Baseball

Mizuno—a very good sports equipment manufacturer in my opinion, in that they usually create excellent products—is owning up to a problem with the baseballs it manufactures on behalf of Japan's professional baseball league.

In this case, the balls have been made in such a way that there is more 'bounce' to them making it easier for the balls to leave the stadium as home runs.

Proof of that is supported by the fact that as of April 18, 2014 there were 131 home runs this year compared to 113 in 2013.

And last year… well…. Mizuno was part of a baseball scandal then - also involving its balls leaving the yard at an abnormal rate.


Yes… in 2013 (I wrote about this story HERE), the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) commissioner Kato Ryozo (surname first) was made to quit after it was discovered that the League and Mizuno were working together to make the balls livelier… to make the game mow exciting for the fans with more home runs

NPB, at that time, admitted it made Mizuno keep quiet about the changes to the ball…
The major problem with that was that the player's union was supposed to have been notified of any changes, which it was not.

This time, however, Mizuno says there is no conspiracy, merely an error on their part and that the problem of liver balls was thought to be a culprit after an abnormal number of home runs occurred during the first week of play this season.

Mizuno, by the way, opted to come forward with its mistake, without any prompting. NPB does not appear to have known about Mizuno's accident until they revealed it to them recently.

Mizuno says that the wool yarn wrapped around the balls’ inner core was too dry, which meant it was flatter… which means that more wool was required to wrap around the ball to fill the space… more wool, regardless of its thinness, appears to have given the balls more bounce off the bat.

More than what NPB baseball regulations allowed. In this case, Mizuno says it's mistake was believing that the wool's thinness would effectively counterbalance the amount of wool required and would thus create an acceptable ball…

An honest mistake, perhaps… but yes, Mizuno obviously did not test the balls well enough, nor did it tell the NPB about the changes it made to the ball.

That's two strikes in 2014, plus the cover-up - or at least agreeing to the cover-up in 2013 is three strikes… and we all know that 1-2-3 strikes you're out of the old ball game.

So… despite my like of Mizuno products… perhaps the NPB needs to find an alternative supplier by penalizing Mizuno for a couple of years.

Since when did Japan become so forgiving of mistakes? Do I smell kick-backs? I'm just asking. I don't really smell anything so prosaic out of my nose.

Andrew Joseph
Image above is a Mizuno baseball from 2013. Originally posted to Flickr as "モーガンの打ったファウルボールげっとしたwwwwww #加藤良三" Cropped by UCinternational

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