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[6/13/2013] News and Notes on the “new” standard baseball

by on Jun.13, 2013 @ 1:07 pm, under NPB

More updates:

  • The NPB office fielded about sixty phone calls from disappointed fans on Wednesday.  They also received several hundred e-mails.
  • Over ten TV cameras and over 100 reporters covered Wednesday's press conference.
  • NPB secretary general Kunio Shimoda said he was thinking about resigning.
  • Shimoda told the media on Tuesday that NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato was in on the decision to make adjustments to the standard baseball.  He backtracked during the press conference on Wednesday and said his recollections on Tuesday were confused.
  • Two Mizuno officials, including director Hideki Tsuruoka, were at Wednesday's press conference.
  • Only a handful of people at Mizuno knew of the adjustments that were made to the baseball.
  • According to Mizuno, Shimoda requested adjustments to be made in October 2012.
  • Only three people in the NPB offices were reportedly involved in the changes: Shimoda and two other officials.
  • Between 2011 and 2012, the goal was to create balls that were close to the 0.413 lower limit.  The goal was changed to between 0.415 and 0.416 in 2013.  The 0.001 difference amounts to about twenty centimeters.
  • The Players Association lawyer, Shinsuke Ishiwatari, feels Kato should take responsibility, especially since each ball is stamped with his signature, and resign.
  • Sponichi conducted an online survey and ninety-two percent felt admitting a change to the ball partway through the season was inappropriate.  Eighty-nine percent wanted Kato to resign.  Sixty-three percent said their trust in pro yakyu fell.
  • Hiroshi Itakura, Nihon University emeritus professor, said there was a chance players could file lawsuits against the NPB for failing to announce the changes to the baseball depending on how their contracts were set, especially with regards to performance bonuses.
  • The NPB is planning to provide a full explanation to the twelve teams during a special executive committee meeting on Friday.  Whether Kato will attend is not yet known.

Source: Sanspo 6/13/2013, Sanspo 6/13/2013, Nikkan Sports 6/13/2013, Nikkan Sports 6/13/2013, Nikkan Sports 6/13/2013Sports Hochi 6/13/2013, Sports Hochi 6/13/2013, Daily Sports 6/13/2013, Sponichi 6/13/2013, Sponichi 6/13/2013, Sponichi 6/13/2013

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Timeline of events according to what the NPB mentioned during the press conference on Wednesday:

September 10, 2012 - Mizuno and NPB begin discussing the possibility of making adjustments to the standard baseball

September 14, 2012 - Confirmation that the time limit on baseball orders for the 2013 season is mid-October.

October 4, 2012 - Shimoda provides Mizuno with an explanation of the order.  Shimoda decides not to make an announcement in order to prevent confusion.  Knowledge of the change was limited to three people in the NPB office: Shimoda and two other officials.

Early February 2013 - Switch-over from old to new standard baseball begins.

March 2013 in the middle of exhibition game schedule - Receives update that the switch-over from old to new is complete.

Source: Sponichi 6/13/2013

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Sanspo has posted additional comments that were made by Kato during the press conference:

Did you not know about the change?

I did not know anything until yesterday.  I do not think this was a scandalous problem.  If I had known, I would have made it public, it was something that should have been made public.  I do feel bad about the impact this has on players and fans, but I do not think this was a scandalous problem.

This was not a scandalous problem?

I think the incident deserves criticism.  But there was absolutely no intent to knowingly hide the change.  I did give incorrect answers [to the question about whether the ball was changed], but not because I was purposely trying to.

In looking at the increase in home runs, did you not suspect anything?

I never suspected anything.  That is because I was placing my faith in the abilities of all the players that have come together in Japan to form pro yakyu.  I thought it was their ability to adapt and change.

Source: Sanspo 6/13/2013

So has Nikkan Sports:

Did you really not know about the change?

I did not know anything until yesterday.  This is not a scandalous problem.  I did not receive any information about changes being made to the standard ball.  If I had known, I probably would have made an announcement.  It is something that should have been announced.  I did not pay enough attention to governance.  Had I known, I think this was something that should have been announced, based on NPB policy.

There was no intent to hide the change?

What I said, I thought was honestly true.  That such a situation was created is regrettable and I do feel responsible.

How will responsibility be handled?

I first want to strengthen governance issues.  I do not feel this was a scandalous problem.

Is this really not a scandalous problem?

I think it merits criticism.  I did provide incorrect answers as a result of what happens, but there was no intent to hide the facts.

Does this mean Shimoda is responsible for everything?

Governance is my responsibility.  It is my responsibility.  I think it is necessary strengthen the executive office for the sake of baseball.

Source: Nikkan Sports 6/13/2013

And Sponichi:

Did you not know what was going on?

I knew nothing.  I suspected nothing and did not receive any explanations from the executive office.  I was not paying enough attention to governance.  I feel bad about this.

This makes it look like you were hiding the facts.

I did not receive any explanations from the executive office.  I only learned about it yesterday.  Had I known, I would have announced it to the players and the twelve teams, according to NPB policy.

The repercussions are big.  Who will take responsibility?

It was only about two days ago that I was fielding questions about whether or not there were changes to the standard ball.  To that I honestly thought no changes were made and replied as such.

What of your responsibility?

In terms of responsibility, I do not feel as though I did something scandalous.  The flow of information was bad.  I am sorry about how this affects the players and everyone else.

You continued to say that no changes were made to the standard baseball.  That should merit criticism.

I think it does deserve criticism.  But I did not say there were no changes while also knowing that changes were made, adjustments were done.  That absolutely did not happen.  I did not intentionally answer questions with incorrect answers.  I do apologize for the errors that were made and for the distraction this has caused.

Did you not think something was wrong after looking at the data?

Japanese players are good at making adjustments, so I thought they, with the help of other things like bats, were slowly getting used to the standard ball.  I placed a lot of faith in the talent of pro yakyu players.

Why was their no announcement before the start of the season?

I did not know what was going on.  No knowing is a problem of governance and that is my responsibility.  As the chief executive, I have responsibilities.

Your name is on the ball.

As is the case in America, Korea, and Taiwan.  Balls are balls.  It does not change the fact that it is a standard ball.  Nothing scandalous about that.

If it was not scandalous or a cover-up, what was it?

I did not know what was going on.  That is my fault and I am sorry for that.  That is where my responsibility lies.

Source: Sponichi 6/13/2013

Comments from players and coaches:

Sadaharu Oh (Softbank):

They wanted to appease the fans and probably thought it would be ok.  At this point, it is not like any problems have come up.  Baseball is about skill and the goal is always to improve upon the previous year.  I do not think there are many that will lose or gain something from this.

Toshimasa Shimada (Nippon Ham):

I do not know why they said nothing.  It cannot be helped if people feel they tried to hide it.

Junsei Atarashi (Yakult):

Secretary general Shimoda clearly said that no changes were made to the ball during the last executive committee meeting on Monday (June 10).  I do not think it will make a huge difference in player assessments.

Kiyoaki Suzuki (Hiroshima):

We left the matter to the NPB last year so as a team, we did not ask them about it and we will not ask for an explanation.  We did not ask them because it is the same for every team so there is no problem.  The ball did not enter any of our discussions when negotiating contracts with players over the last two years.

Senichi Hoshino (Rakuten):

Why are they saying this now?  If we knew about this beforehand, we could have made changes to the way he coached players.

Tatsunori Hara (Yomiuri):

It is hard for me to comment because I still do not understand the situation one-hundred percent.  However, I do feel this is a very big problem.  Today does not change, with one ball we fight until the end.  How we play will not change.

Junji Ogawa (Yakult):

I feel that if they had said something from the start, we could have changed the way we practiced.  Even when asking the manufacturers, they said there were no changes.

Tsutomu Ito (Lotte):

It would be a problem if the ball carried today and then did not carry tomorrow, but we have come this far in the season so we can only keep moving forward.  The thing is, I cannot understand why [the NPB] said nothing before the start of the season.

Yui Tomori (Yokohama):

There has been no good explanation so I am not really sure [how to comment] but all we can do is work with what is given to us.  This does cause a problem for us [because of the small confines of Yokohama Stadium].

Shinya Miyamoto (Yakult):

They should have said something last year.  This is not about a ball that carries or does not carry.  This is about making or not making the announcement.

Shinnsouke Abe (Yomiuri):

I cannot understand why they [announced] it now.  All year I felt the ball was traveling more than I thought it should.  Talking about the ball carrying, not carrying, this is not a good thing.  Baseball is baseball anywhere in the world.  I am embarrassed that there is a debate about the baseball in Japan.

Tetsuya Utsumi (Yomiuri):

It would have been nice if they said something before the season.  That is how I really feel.  I cannot accept the fact that they did not do that.  I would like the NPB to explain the situation until I am satisfied.

Takahiro Arai (Hanshin):

The NPB is always making important decisions on their own and then announcing it later.  They say they want to talk, they want to hold discussions, and yet it is the same thing over again.  This causes a problem for the players and coaches.

Shinjiro Hiyama (Hanshin):

The players could [the difference] the most.  It was obvious.  I feel they should have said something when they changed the ball.  I wonder why they did not.  This would not be an issue if they just made an announcement.  We can only abide by what the people at the top decide.

Motohiro Shima (Rakuten):

I would like [Kato] to take responsibility for what he is doing.  As the person at the top, if he did not know [what was happening] is that really ok?

They should go to all twelve teams and round up the players and provide an explanation of what kind of baseball we are using.  To the fans as well.  I think that is the way to express good faith. ... Do we go back to the previous [standard] baseball or use the current one.  Getting everyone's opinion is important.  A one-way street is no good.  I would like to open a meeting to discuss this.

Kenta Maeda (Hiroshima):

I did not feel the change very much.  If things are going to change, it would have been nice for them to say something beforehand, but nothing can be done about it now.  It is not like the stats are going to reset.

Kei Igawa (Orix):

I think they are making things harder for themselves.  When I asked Mizuno employees, they all said there were no changes.  They tricked me.  Although I could not believe them.  I wish I could have pitched when the ball did not carry.

Yuichi Honda (Softbank):

All the hitters could tell.  I do wonder why now.  This is about the players.  It does not make much sense for the players if we let the NPB call all the shots.

Tadahito Iguchi (Lotte):

If this was just about making sure baseballs are made within the required limits of the coefficient of restitution, then it should not be a big deal.  The ball did carry quite a bit before (2011), so that was a problem.  From a position player's perspective, I think the current ball is just right.

Toshiaki Imae (Lotte):

Personally, I did my best to adjust to the new standard baseball and felt I was finally starting to make progress.  What a disappointment.

Tony Blanco (Yokohama):

I would rather not make any comments.  I want to avoid making the problem bigger by saying something.

The biggest difference for me is playing at Yokohama Stadium.

Source: Sanspo 6/13/2013Sanspo 6/13/2013, Sanspo 6/13/2013, Daily Sports 6/13/2013

Various quotes:

Mizuno's Tsuruoka:

In terms of compliance, this was not handled very well and we are feeling sorry about it.  We are sorry [that we did something] that makes it seem like we deceived the players that put their livelihoods on the line and the fans that support us.

Source: Sanspo 6/13/2013

Manga artist Mitsuru Yaku:

Is there no one in the NPB offices that used to play?  If there was, there would be no one this incident would be considered minor.  This is a big problem for the players because it affects the stats.  There is a common belief that the commissioner does not have much power, this incident only supports that.  And we cannot forget the responsibility of the ball manufacturer.

Source: Sanspo 6/13/2013

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UPDATE @ 8:11pm -

Commissioner Kato will be at tomorrow's explanation meeting with the twelve teams of the NPB.

Source: Daily Sports 6/13/2013

2 comments on “[6/13/2013] News and Notes on the “new” standard baseball

  1. Steve Novosel

    “Shimoda decides not to make an announcement in order to prevent confusion.”

    Shimoda is an idiot. All he did was cause more confusion. Does he think fans, players, coaches are all stupid? Why not get in front of this issue when the controversy started?

    I don’t think there’s any problem with making minor changes to the ball’s composition. But there is zero reason to not make these changes public. It’s a disservice to everyone involved in Pro Yakyu.

  2. muratafan

    Another PR disaster from the NPB offices. My goodness, anybody with 2 brain cells to rub together HAD to have known something was going on when Blanco had 23 home runs before June 12th and last year’s top HR hitter was Balentien with 31 (although he was injured) and that there were 6 home run games in April.

    I agree, why not just say the ball was changed before the season started? The only thing I can think of is that NPB didn’t want to admit that the ‘true’ HR power of NPB wasn’t really up to snuff, so to speak.

    Here’s what I THINK should have happened:

    In a prior post I said ‘why not just adopt an MLB-type ball with the same dimensions and publicly announce it at the beginning of the year and it’s easy to justify by saying: it will help NPB prepare for the WBC. Then have Mizuno manufacture the ‘new ball’ and have it be slightly more lively like it is now.’

    Personally, I like the higher HR %’s. It’s not as if the ERA’s of the top pitchers have skyrocketed.

    Gotta love NPB offices. I have never seen such incompetence since…Bud Selig in the ‘tied’ All-star game!

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