Where's Scully When You Need Her? No, Not Vin Scully
Troy Percival, who admitted to grooving a pitch to Barry Bonds in the ninth inning of game 2, among other pitchers on both teams is now claiming that the baseballs used in the World Series are juiced.
The pitchers claim that the balls feel harder. Tim Worrell, who by the way has never failed the Pepsi Challenge even once, claims that he can identify the World Series balls by feeling them behind his back.
I don't have an actual World Series ball handy (maybe I can borrow the one George Brett caught). So I thought I would do the next best thing, compare the stats from various postseason series over the years to see if this conspiracy theory holds any water. First I created a list of all the series in which there were 10 or more total home runs. Then I averaged the number of home runs per game and runs per game and sorted the list by home runs/game, with the highest at the top. Here's what I found:
So far, this World Series has had the most homers per game ever by a hefty margin (1.1 HR/G) and it is also tied for second in runs per game (the 1999 AL division series between the Red Sox and the Indians was the highest at 15.80). But two things: A) We are only talking about two games here. And those games were in the higher scoring stadium of the two. Pac Bell may be a completely different story. And B) those numbers are not totally out of line with postseason baseball scoring in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Yankees-Angels division series earlier this month had very similar numbers. Why didn't the Angels pitchers complain in that round (maybe because the outhomered the Yanks)?
Conspiracy theorists may be having a field day with this, but even if it were true, as long as the balls that they are using are the same for both teams, what's the difference? One could argue that a livelier ball favors the Giants who are more of a long-ball club. However, the seeing-eye singles and gap doubles that the Angels are known for can only be aided by a livelier ball. I would by no means put it past the Mr. Burns of baseball, Bud Selig, to try to create excitement with a juiced ball. I just think that it would be highly unlikely, and until we have a few more games the statistical evidence is sketchy at best.