Bernie on the Scene: Random Thoughts

Bernie on the Scene: Random Thoughts

This article is part of our Bernie on the Scene series.

We have now completed a bit more than two months of baseball this season. I want to share some thoughts I have had along the way.

•MLB has been altering the baseballs being used. Some say MLB has been using leftover baseballs from both 2020 and 2021 seasons. They don't want to discard those balls, so they put them in games. I have no idea if they are doing that, but something is clearly happening with the baseballs.

Scores of analysts have torn baseballs apart, only to find inconsistencies in the compositions. MLB has to settle on one set of baseball manufacturing specifications once and for all. In every game. In every league. At every level of play.

It is difficult for a pitcher to be used to one type baseball in the minor leagues, then have to adjust at the big league level. It is also difficult for a pitcher to adjust game to game or even baseball to baseball. Composition and construction should come as close to consistent and according to specifications as possible.

And all baseball manufacturing should take place in the Continental United States or Canada-the countries where the games are played.

•Humidors are being used in every major league venue. It doesn't matter if the city is humid or not. The humidor is being used. Here is what humidors do: "Humidors work by bringing baseballs to an average humidity, which means in a dry park, baseballs will become more humid and thus heavier. In

We have now completed a bit more than two months of baseball this season. I want to share some thoughts I have had along the way.

•MLB has been altering the baseballs being used. Some say MLB has been using leftover baseballs from both 2020 and 2021 seasons. They don't want to discard those balls, so they put them in games. I have no idea if they are doing that, but something is clearly happening with the baseballs.

Scores of analysts have torn baseballs apart, only to find inconsistencies in the compositions. MLB has to settle on one set of baseball manufacturing specifications once and for all. In every game. In every league. At every level of play.

It is difficult for a pitcher to be used to one type baseball in the minor leagues, then have to adjust at the big league level. It is also difficult for a pitcher to adjust game to game or even baseball to baseball. Composition and construction should come as close to consistent and according to specifications as possible.

And all baseball manufacturing should take place in the Continental United States or Canada-the countries where the games are played.

•Humidors are being used in every major league venue. It doesn't matter if the city is humid or not. The humidor is being used. Here is what humidors do: "Humidors work by bringing baseballs to an average humidity, which means in a dry park, baseballs will become more humid and thus heavier. In humid parks, however, a humidor will dry out the baseballs and make them lighter.

Frankly, it makes no sense to me to use humidors. Leave the baseballs alone. Research has found that humidors have impacted the "back spin" on baseballs in a negative manner. Humidors cause less backspin. But MLB loves to tinker with the game. Humidors tinker with the baseballs.

•Up to this point in the season, opposite field home runs have declined for the third consecutive year. Interesting. Are hitters changing their approach? Could be. Does the humidor impact that? I doubt that. It has to be the way the hitter swings and how far he allows the ball to travel before he swings, etc., etc.

•Yes, home runs are down. But great power hitters still hit home runs. What we are seeing is fewer homers from average major league players. Sluggers like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will still be able to get plenty of distance and loft to get the ball out of the park — even if the baseball is less lively, or even "dead."

•MLB wants more action. So, they deaden the baseball. And they raised and deepened the distance of the left field wall at Orioles Park at Camden Yards. Yes, that has an impact on the number of home runs hit to left field in Baltimore. I saw it with my own eyes, as balls were caught a foot or two away from the new wall.

•There is no question in my mind that banning "sticky stuff" has impacted the spin rate of many MLB pitchers. They were cheating because the balls were too slick. I'm not sure they aren't still as slick.

•Pitchers are using the bottom of the strike zone now to get the hitter to pound the ball into the ground. It works. Unless a pitcher can throw 95 or 96, he should stay away from the high fastball to most hitters. A good hitter can hit 92 up in the zone. Lots of pitchers are at 92 to 93 MPH.

•The Dodgers are starting to hit the ball. Mookie Betts and company may not be able to be stopped until the reach the World Series. While I think the Dodgers will be the representative of the National League, I'm still torn between the Yankees, Blue Jays and Astros in the American League. I'm leaning Yankees, but quite frankly, I don't see any sense of urgency from them. I don't see much hustle. They look like they're going through the motions. And I do think Tony La Russa was a mistake made by Jerry Reinsdorf. But he won't fire La Russa. Not a second time. La Russa would have to quit. I doubt that happens.

•The Phillies are fielding a team of designated hitters. Their defense is atrocious and is costing them games. Not to mention the fact that the collection of designated hitters isn't hitting.

Andres Gimenez is a fantastic defensive infielder. Cleveland is making a mistake if he isn't their everyday shortstop. 

•I still like the Brewers to win the NL Central, but the Cardinals are going to give them a battle, all the way to the end.

Robbie Ray should be traded by the Mariners. He would fetch them some legitimate young pitching. And they need pitching. The Mariners have really been a huge disappointment. And so has Ray. But he's still throwing left-handed, he can still strike out hitters and he has value.

Tarik Skubal is underrated. The man can pitch.

•I find it hard to believe that major league cities can't draw more than 15,000 fans to games. I do think fans in Oakland, Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh are punishing their owners for not spending money on big name players. I think fans are reacting with their wallets. I get it.

And with the prices being so high, why reward a frugal owner by going to the game? Why not sit home and watch it on TV?

MLB has to require Oakland and Tampa Bay to declare a new location by no later than the end of 2023. If they don't have a new home declared by then, MLB should find the new home and move them. Enough is enough.

•I can't believe the speed of Julio Rodriguez. He can fly. He'll continue to steal bases and take an extra base whenever he can. He's going to be a terrific player.

Ronald Acuna simply isn't in the "great player" conversations this year. He is still hurting. He misses games and just can't get healthy. But by next season, he should be on all our minds again as one of the terrific stars of the game.

•The Nationals are not going to trade Juan Soto. The team could fetch the first $3B sale price. If not $3B, very close to that. And the new owners will want Soto on their roster. But so far, Soto has not delivered for fantasy owners. Yes, he walks a ton, but there is no reason to give him anything to hit. The Nationals lineup is really weak. But I do like Josh Bell.

•The Orioles should trade Trey Mancini and get pitching in return. And maybe a solid middle-infielder. His value is high. They love him in Baltimore, but they need pitching help, badly.

•The Red Sox have created a mess for themselves. They have Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers coming up for big paydays. They have Trevor Story and J.D. Martinez to pay. And they have little to no starting pitching or a true closer. Where do they spend their money? For me — pay Devers. Trade Bogaerts and go get pitching. Now.

Thank you for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff and for reading my articles at forbes.com.

Have a great week.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bernie Pleskoff
Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.
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