Justin Verlander thinks the baseballs are juiced and sign-stealing lengthens games

Duane Burleson/Getty Images
23 Comments

MLive.com’s Evan Woodbery has an interesting read up today focusing on Tigers starter Justin Verlander. Verlander read the recent piece from The Ringer by Ben Lindbergh, featuring research from Mitchell Lichtman, that concluded that the baseballs were changed starting after the 2015 All-Star break.

“Are people talking about this? Are people writing about this?” Verlander asked.

Verlander said, “The old eye test is the best thing to go by. Guys that have been around this game for a long time, you see balls leaving the yard that probably shouldn’t be.” He added, “If it is true, I wish MLB would just say, ‘Yeah, we wanted more offense.’ But the explanation of why home runs are going out at such an extreme rate…I think people just want answers to that. Specifically pitchers. I don’t think hitters mind too much.”

Speaking about another one of baseball’s recent issues, the pace of play, Verlander suggested that the increasingly complex signs between catchers and pitchers is adding to the downtime in between pitches.

The game comes to a screeching halt when guys get on base, and specifically when guys get in scoring position on second base. The signs have to be more advanced than they ever were before.

Those 1-2-3 innings go pretty quick. It’s when guys get on base: Pitchers picking off and stepping off, managers giving signs to the catcher, catcher giving the signs to the pitcher. All these things take place and that’s where the lull is. I think there’s a lot of extra space in that area we could tighten up.

I have much more advanced signs now. I have fallback signs for my fallback signs. There’s a lot of stuff happening that makes it pretty easy to get off rhythm with the catcher or maybe throw the wrong pitch or have to say, ‘Hold on, let’s talk about this, because we’re not on the same page.

If Verlander got his way, Major League Baseball would come clean about altering baseballs and crack down on sign-stealing.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.