College baseball is changing the ball this year to boost offense


A couple of years ago college baseball changed its rules regarding bats, which in turn reduced offense considerably. Scoring and home runs are down, which is particularly notable in a sport which had long featured big offense. In response, there has been a change in the ball to boost scoring:

The change on the baseball is relatively subtle: The seams have been lowered so it’s more like the one used at the professional level. Researchers found that the flat-seam ball could travel as much as 20 feet farther in the air than the previous raised-seam ball.

It’ll be interesting to see the results. It also makes me wonder if Major League Baseball is going to do anything to its ball, be it publicly or secretly.

Baseball has done this in the past, albeit via different means than the seam-lowering. The National League did so in the 1930s, leading to a dramatic uptick in scoring.  Many people suspect Major League Baseball tinkered with the ball in 1987 — which led to a big spike in offense — and again in 1993 which led to another big spike.

So here we are again in a time when everyone is worrying about low scoring. There are all sorts of ideas of how to indirectly boost offense. But history shows that changing the baseball leads to immediate results. I wonder if anyone at MLB has thought about this in the past few months. I wonder if I should make this my go-to conspiracy theory if, somehow, offense bounces back in a big way in 2015.

Roger Clemens will be an analyst for ESPN on opening day

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Roger Clemens will be an analyst for ESPN when the defending World Series champion Houston Astros host the Chicago White Sox on opening day.

Clemens made four appearances on last year’s KayRod Cast with Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. He will be stepping in on March 30 for David Cone, who will be doing the New York Yankees opener against the San Francisco Giants on YES Network.

“Roger has been sort of a friend of ours for the last year, so to speak, he’s in. He’s been engaged, knowledgeable and really present,” said ESPN Vice President of Production Phil Orlins. “You know, whatever past may be, he’s still tremendously engaged and he really brought that every time he was with us.”

Clemens was a seven-time Cy Young winner but his career after baseball has been tainted by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use. He is a Houston native and pitched for the Astros for three seasons.

Orlins said that with the rules changes and pitch clock, it is important to have a pitcher in the booth with Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez.

“We don’t feel like we have to have the dynamic of Eduardo with a pitcher, but we certainly think that works. Throw in the added factor of rule changes and it is better to have a batter-pitcher perspective,” Orlins said.

Orlins did not say if this would open the door for future opportunities for Clemens as an ESPN analyst.