Mizuno Apologizes for “Lively” Balls

Sports - April 16th, 2014
Mizuno-apologizes-baseballs

Mizuno Corp apologized on Tuesday for making baseballs that were “livelier” than league standards, the second time such a scandal has hit Japan’s professional baseball league.

The Japanese sporting goods giant blamed a manufacturing defect that made the balls more lively than is allowed in professional baseball. The juiced-up balls may have added about 60 to 70 centimeters, or at least two feet, to the carry of a fly ball, the company said.

“We sincerely apologize for causing distress to Nippon Professional Baseball, the teams, the players and the fans,” Mizuno President Akito Mizuno said during a news conference in Tokyo.

“This was purely caused by Mizuno’s lack of administrative ability.”

Officials from Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) said they detected a problem with game balls following the season opener last month. According to findings by NPB based on tests performed at six stadiums in March, balls were livelier than the maximum limit of 0.4234 coefficient of restitution (COR)—a measure of “bounciness.” Balls supplied by Mizuno had an average COR of 0.426.

NPB executive secretary Atsushi Ihara apologized for the scandal. “We apologize for not being able to identify the reasons for this, but we hope to find out why with swiftness and adjust it to the standards we’ve all agreed on,” Ihara told a media briefing, according to Kyodo News.

The league’s move to release the findings poses a stark contrast to the slugfest that took place last year when then NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato secretly arranged with Mizuno to tweak the balls’ specifications to make the game “more exciting.”

After a huge surge in home runs raised speculations, the league admitted its choice, which led to Kato’s stepping down. Whether it had anything to to with Coco Balentien’s record-breaking performance is still up for debate.

This time, Mizuno says it didn’t intend to make the balls more sprightly. The company said that low moisture content in some of the wool yarn led to the balls being wrapped more tightly than regular ones, giving them a higher COR.

The company also acknowledged that some instruments measuring the bounciness coefficient of balls produced in its Shanghai factory were showing errors.

Japan has seen 131 home runs this season compared to 113 during the same period last year, according to the Sports Hochi newspaper.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: “Baseball” by Peter Miller/Flickr

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