|10-21-2002, 10:50 PM||#1|
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Balls Fail Troy's Squeeze Test
I think Salmon's quote below is the quote of the year.
Percival: Series Baseballs 'Harder'
By JOHN NADEL
.c The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Troy Percival thinks he knows why baseballs are flying out of the ballpark with more frequency in this World Series: The Anaheim reliever claims the balls are harder than usual.
Hogwash, responds San Francisco's Felix Rodriguez, adding that the hitters deserve the credit.
``The balls are definitely harder,'' Percival said Monday after the Angels arrived in San Francisco, where they'll face the Giants in Game 3 of the Series on Tuesday night.
``When you try to squeeze it, you don't feel the compression you do with the balls you use during the regular season,'' Percival said. ``As soon as I picked up the balls in this series, I knew there would be a lot of homers.
``They're twice as hard as any ball I've ever played with. They're different from any ball I've ever seen. But both teams have to hit 'em.''
Percival pitched the ninth to save the Angels' 11-10 victory over the Giants on Sunday that evened the series. He allowed a two-out solo homer to Barry Bonds - a blast that traveled an estimated 485 feet.
The teams combined to hit six homers - four by the Giants - in the highest-scoring World Series game in five years.
San Francisco hit three homers and the Angels had two in the Giants' 4-3 victory in Game 1.
Ramon Ortiz, who gave up a big league-leading 40 homers this season, will start Game 3 for the Angels against Livan Hernandez, who allowed 19.
Rodriguez, who gave up Tim Salmon's two-out, two-run homer in the eighth that snapped a 9-9 tie in Game 2, said the balls felt the same to him.
``I haven't noticed any difference,'' he said. ``People always want to give an excuse. Sometimes you have to give credit to the hitter.''
Salmon's opinion: ``I just hit them. I don't get to feel them or touch them.''
Sandy Alderson, the executive vice president of baseball operations, said there's no difference. The balls being used are part of a group of 4,000 dozen produced in Costa Rica last month, he said.
``We might do a couple spot checks to make sure they're the same,'' he said. ``But we don't plan any comprehensive tests. As far as we're concerned, the balls are the same as the ones we used all year. The only difference is the (World Series) stamp.
``Tests of these balls were taken as part of the manufacturing process in Costa Rica and upon their arrival in Missouri.''
When Giants reliever Chad Zerbe was asked about how the makeup of the baseballs related to Bonds, he replied: ``You could throw a potato and he'd hit it.''
Zerbe, who pitched four innings in Game 2, said he noticed a small difference when autographing some of the balls.
Angels reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who pitched three perfect innings to earn the victory in Game 2 - his record-tying fifth of the postseason - said the balls felt the same.
``I've only been here for five weeks. Who knows?'' he said with a smile.
San Francisco's Russ Ortiz, who gave up nine hits and seven runs in 1 2-3 innings in Game 2, also didn't notice any difference.
``I've heard that,'' he said. ``It felt like a regular baseball to me. I didn't squeeze it or anything.''
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he hasn't had a chance to investigate.
``Some of those balls that we hit in our series in Anaheim, I think you could have been hitting 16-inch mush softballs, and they would have been going,'' he said. ``They put some pretty good swings on balls.''
10/21/02 21:49 EDT
There may be something to this. I had a few balls that were used in All-Star games in 1996. The actually turned brown, all by themselves a couple of years later. Must have been bad leather? First time I ever saw a big league ball do that - - that quick. Maybe the Series balls this year are bad?
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