Earl Weaver insists he’s not dead

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Earl Weaver is not dead. We know this because he says so.

This is contrary to a political column in the New York Times on Saturday, which referred to Weaver in the past tense. “Texas Democrats have become the Baltimore Orioles of politics,” wrote Ross Ramsey. “Somewhere in heaven, Earl Weaver and Ann Richards are comparing notes on what went wrong with the teams they left behind.”

Mike Klingaman of the Baltimore Sun called Weaver, 80, at his home in Florida to notify him of the bad news:

“I’ll be damned,” said the Hall of Famer, who managed the Orioles to four American League pennants and a World Series title. “All I can do is say, that’s false.

“I’m still here, although my knees have given out, so I don’t play golf anymore. I’ve always said that there were two places that I wouldn’t mind dying. One was Memorial Stadium; the other, the golf course.

“Now I’ve got to wait forever [to go], because both of those places are gone.”

That’s it? I have to admit I’m disappointed that Weaver’s response wasn’t a little more colorful.

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MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.