From his regular Yahoo article:
I have to say, I enjoy reading Jones' articles. Who knows how heavily edited they are, but they are usually well written and, unlike other player's commentary (lil' Joe, Ryne - I'm looking you) is usually witty and spot on.Originally Posted by Todd JonesAfter the first few weeks, home runs were way up over last year's pace. Many of the usual suspects were responsible: Albert Pujols, Adam Dunn, Andruw Jones, Morgan Ensberg, Jim Thome. There were some new faces, too: Chris Shelton, Johnny Gomes, Nick Swisher, Ty Wigginton.
So why are there so many homers? The cynics are saying the balls are wound tighter. Since the steroids era has come and gone, the thinking goes, the powers that be contacted the Rawlings ball guy and said, "Hey, man, let's kill our third basemen and make the fans hate the pitchers. Wind the balls tighter."
I was in Oakland last week when Eric Chavez said he could tell a big difference from last year. Now, I admit that Rawlings can make the balls tighter when it wants. The company has done it for home run contests at All-Star Games. Last year, when the game was at that cavernous hole -- oh, excuse me, I got Comerica Park confused with the Grand Canyon -- players said there was a big difference. I don't particularly like the juiced-ball theory, though. Too easy.
And by the way, who are the powers that be? They're the owners. More homers mean more money for free agents-to-be. Are you sure the owners want to do that? Maybe Nike paid the powers that be because chicks really do dig the long ball.
How about the weather being juiced? We had a nice break from the cold starts that the cold-weather cities are used to trying to fight through. The home run leaders, for the most part, are players from cold-weather cities. This year, those cities haven't been cold. The ball is carrying really well in Comerica, which is as good as any indication that it's a good time to be a hitter.
The impact of playing in the World Baseball Classic is another possible reason for the rise in homers, but for every Pujols and Ortiz, there's a Shelton or Dunn who didn't play.
What about bad pitching? Don't forget to hate on the pitchers. We would not want to be left out.
I know this is all a plot to get back at Barry Bonds. If Shelton hits 325 homers this season, it will take the bad taste out of everybody's mouths about Bonds. At this rate, Shelton will pass Ruth in about 2 1/2 years. I guess the powers that be wouldn't mind that.
OK, slow down. As a guy whose glass always is half-full, I'd like to stand up and salute the hitters. Maybe there's no more steroids, no corked bats, no greenies, no Senate debates. Maybe the excuses are out of the way. Maybe all the work in the video rooms, weight rooms and trainers' rooms is paying off.
Maybe you just might have to trust that these guys are good.
Todd Jones is a reliever for the Tigers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org