The Yankees received juiced baseballs in 2022
You may recall Bradford William Davis of Business Insider reporting that the MLB used two different baseballs in the 2021 season. The difference in baseballs was unbeknownst to players and coaches. Commissioner Rob Manfred and the MLB received a great deal of flak for such a thing.
Manfred later admitted before the 2022 All-Star game they had used different baseballs in 2021, blaming manufacturing during the COVID era, but was adamant there was one ball being used in 2022.
"Every baseball that's in use in'22 was produced under the new manufacturing process and in fact, the process has resulted in a more consistent baseball.""- Rob Manfred
Except that wasn't true...
The Business Insider team and Dr. Meredith Willis are back with research on the 2022 season, and their findings are astounding: three baseballs were in circulation for the season--the dead ball, the 2019 juiced ball, and a not too heavy, not too light baseball Willis called "Goldilocks." The Goldilocks ball is more batter-friendly than the dead ball.
Despite the efforts of MLB officials to prevent the baseballs from being tested, Willis was able to obtain 204 baseballs from 22 stadiums. Most teams were stuck with a dead ball and batter shaking their heads as baseballs hit at perfect launch angles and exit velocities over 105 mph stayed in the yard.
Only one team received the "Goldilocks" ball in non All-Star, Commemorative or playoff games. Care to guess which one?
Now, this doesn't discredit anything Aaron Judge accomplished this year. He is still very much seventh all-time on the single season home runs list and this doesn't make him a cheater.
That said, for years Astro fans have argued they were scapegoated in a cheating scandal. That everybody does it. That the Astros franchise fell on the sword because the far more valuable to the MLB bottom line Yankees couldn't be ousted if the game were to make it. Most opposing fanbases have called them crazy.
But here we are in less than a year having a letter detailing the Yankees cheating being opened (after the Commissioner sealed it) and now finding that the league supplied the Yankees and no other team in a non-marketable game with juiced baseballs.
So what does it mean?
First, it validates the frustration of Astros fans. As more players continue to say Houston was far from the only team cheating, events like this will only prove the Astros aren't just some boy who cried "wolf." Weird and questionable things are happening behind the scenes.
Second, the MLB has some questions to answer. With Aaron Judge signing a contract and other free agency dominoes soon to fall after, this can easily get swept under the rug. The MLB has to answer as to how there were three different baseballs in circulation in 2022.
Third, it does not invalidate anything Judge and the Yankees accomplished this year. This doesn't appear to be some complicit cheating scandal, but rather the golden franchise being tailored to once again. Judge still has the honor of being the single-season AL home run leader.
The franchise itself still holds the honor of getting swept by the Astros to get eliminated by Houston for the fourth time in eight years.
By all means MLB, keep giving them juiced baseballs. The Mariners and Orioles are coming up fast. Keep feeding Houston the Yankees as a sacrificial lamb. The enemy you know is better than the one you don't.