Major League Baseball is not taking any chances with the security for the baseballs it uses for games. The league is beefing up security for the balls in wake of the New England Patriots' Deflategate scandal, reports the Associated Press.
According to the report, MLB instituted a policy for game ball security and storage during December’s winter meetings, more than a month before members of the Patriots locker room staff and quarterback Tom Brady were accused of deflating footballs during the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Brady was suspended without pay for the first four games by the NFL, the Patriots were fined $1 million and the team will lose a first-round draft pick in 2016 and its fourth-round draft pick in 2017.
A memo was sent to all 30 MLB teams before the season introducing a nine-step procedure on how to handle game balls, which includes having home teams storing the new balls during the season, and the umpires' clubhouse attendants rubbing up more than 80 baseballs for each game.
Starting at the beginning of this season, a representative from MLB watches the baseballs as a clubhouse assistant brings them from the umpires' room to the field, eliminating that job for the team’s ball boy or ball girl.
An MLB security person is also sent to get more baseballs from the umpires room if the supply runs low during a game.
"Obviously, there's not as much that you can do to baseballs," Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson said. "I mean, you can't change the density of the baseball at any point—unless you dunk them in water. Then they're going to be 9 ounces, and everyone's going to blow their arms out."
Baseballs used for gameplay weigh between 5 ounces and 5 1/4.
"If you're playing on turf and a guy hits a screaming one-hopper to the shortstop, it's going to have a huge scuff on it. Certain pitchers can create an advantage with that, so that's why they throw those baseballs out," Wilson said.
When the baseballs are taken to the playing field, an MLB authenticator follows right behind. The authenticator is a person hired by an outside company to document game-used items, including baseballs that can be sold later or given to charities.
If the supply runs out, a Resident Security Agent, a person who has a law enforcement background and is hired by MLB, retrieves more.
The only time a ball boy or ball girl handles a baseball set for game play is when the umpire signals he needs more. Those baseballs have already been through the process to make sure they were handled properly.
- Scooby Axson