Major League Baseball will experiment with a new triple-A-level baseball prototype for the last week plus the 2021 regular season, according to a report by Kyle Glaser of Baseball America. The new, “pre-stapled” ball will be used by a “handful” of Triple A teams in one of their remaining games until the end of the season.
MLB’s attempt to introduce a new baseball is a direct response to the league’s decision in June to ban grip-enhancing substances because they tilted performance for pitchers by improving the spin rates of their playing fields.
“Pre-tacked” means that a substance that improves the pitchers grip has already been applied when they touch it in play – the pitchers, in turn, should no longer feel the need (or excuse) to have their own in control to improve and enable a safer game.
The Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball League uses pre-tacked balls. They were exposed to several MLB and minor league pitchers earlier this summer while competing in the Tokyo Olympics. Perhaps it was predictable that these throwers would rave about the ball. “It has this tack that you’ve put on before,” Minnesota Twins right-handed Joe Ryan, Jorge Castillo, told the Los Angeles Times. “So when you open that thing up, it’s ready to rock.”
Ryan added, “It’s – I can’t say this enough – the best baseball I’ve ever touched.”
It is unclear whether the MLB will try to implement the new baseball at the big league level as early as next spring. Obviously, this will eventually be the plan as the league seeks to find the sweet spot between pitcher comfort and a competitive balance within the hitter-pitcher match.