What gives? Has it something to do with $$$? Yuh think?
Is pitching further watered down? Steroids’ taking making a 21st-c. comeback? Word is, the balls have more spring. The so-called rabbit ball dates back at least to the early 1920s. The winding of the horsehide has been known to vary as a correlative of attendance.
October 4 will be the 60th (this once a magic single-season number, courtesy Babe Ruth in 1927, followed by Roger Maris’s assault on Ruth’s then-record in 1961) anniversary of Sputnik 1. Players today are competing with launches in their own way.
Aaron Judge, for example, a king-sized strikeout machine with the New York Yankees in 2016, is challenging Mark McGwire’s rookie record (49): that is, if Aaron is technically judged a rookie.* He’s already hit one nearly 500 feet. The rate his ball travels, right off the bat, to the distant outfield and farther, is measured as the fastest ever. (I’m not sure how the metric exit velocity could stack up or validate on an all-time basis.) Launch angle is likewise a new term to baseball that is on the tip of every batter and announcer’s tongue.
(Speaking of all-time, does home-run frequency cheapen its unique impact? On September 19, 2017, ca. 9:15 EDT, Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals hit major-leagues home-run number 5,694. It breaks the all-time record set in 2000. Altogether, 6,105 dingers were uncorked in 2017.)
* Judge is a rookie, and he set the new home-run record on September 25, 2017. As things turned out, he did strike out a ton of times in the postseason, but nonetheless was elected one of two 2017 Rookie of the Year Awards on November 13, 2017.