Sports | July 9, 2019 9:39 am

Justin Verlander Accuses MLB of Juicing Balls: ‘It’s a F—king Joke’

Verlander has given up an MLB-high 26 home runs this season

Justin Verlander pitching for the Houston Astros
Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros.
Christian Petersen/Getty

Ball don’t lie.

That’s what Houston Astros Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Justin Verlander essentially said during an interview with ESPN on Monday while he aired his grievance with Major League Baseball. “It’s a f—king Joke,” Verlander said after accusing the league of “juicing” balls — which are made by Rawlings, an MLB-owned company — in order for its offensive stars to hit more home runs, ESPN reported.

“Major League Baseball’s turning this game into a joke,” he said. “They own Rawlings, and you’ve got [MLB Commissioner Rob] Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the f—-ing company. We all know what happened. Manfred, the first time he came in, what’d he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It’s not coincidence. We’re not idiots.”

Verlander, the starter for the American League in Tuesday night’s All Star Game, has given up an MLB-high 26 home runs this season, so while it may seem like a simple case of sour grapes, he does have a point. In the first half of the season, hitters have belted 3,691 homers, which puts the league on pace for a 6,668 home run season — a figure that would demolish the record of 6,105 set in 2017, according to ESPN. Home runs overall are up almost 60 percent from 2014.

When asked if he believed the balls were being altered by MLB with the intention of producing more towering blasts over outfield walls, Verlander said, “Yes. 100 percent.

“They’ve been using juiced balls in the Home Run Derby forever,” he continued. “They know how to do it. It’s not coincidence. I find it really hard to believe that Major League Baseball owns Rawlings and just coincidentally the balls become juiced.”

Manfred has denied that there is any truth behind accusation and has even commissioned a study into the balls used during games.

“Our scientists that have been studying the baseball more regularly have told us that this year the baseball has a little less drag,” the commissioner told ESPN. “We are trying to understand exactly why that happened and build out a manufacturing process that gives us a little more control over what’s going on. But you have to remember that our baseball is a handmade product and there’s gonna be variation year to year.”

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