How the MLB Protects Its Balls
Deflategate has rocked the sports world.
To no one’s surprise, the New England Patriots were at the center of things. This NFL team — with its history of questionable behavior — has never been shy about tiptoeing that fine line between right and wrong. However, things took a turn for the worse, when future Hall of Famer Tom Brady became the unfortunate face of the scandal.
When it was revealed that the quarterback was “generally aware of the inappropriate activities,” we started to speculate potential consequences for the player and team. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long for answers. The National Football League handed out its punishments — and they were steep. Brady was given a four-game suspension, the Patriots were fined $1 million, and the team was also stripped of its first-round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth-round selection in 2017.
If the league was looking to make an example out of the Super Bowl champs, then the goal was accomplished. While we wouldn’t be surprised to see Brady and the Patriots appeal these punishments, you have to think that the rest of the league has officially been put on notice. It doesn’t matter who you are — if you violate the rules, there will be consequences. Until you appeal them and the media cycle moves on, of course.
Still, it’s important to look at how this latest scandal will affect pro sports as a whole. Despite all the “ball” puns, it’s imperative that the rest of the leagues make changes to ensure the protection of their “equipment.” And interestingly enough, Major League Baseball had already taken the necessary precautions to prevent this sort of catastrophe.
Major League Baseball may have been well aware of the deflating situation (everyone was), but the league had been discussing implementing new ball security measures since the winter meetings in December. The revised policy was put into effect this season, and the league sent each team a memo outlining the new ball-handling procedure (nine steps), as well as rules for storage. As broken down by The Guardian:
“Along with the policy on storage – balls should be kept at around 70F, and about 50% humidity – there were guidelines on chain of command. Home teams store the new balls during the season, and the umpires’ clubhouse attendants usually rub up about eight dozen for each game. When they’re taken to the field, an MLB authenticator follows them. That person is a current or former member of law enforcement hired by an outside company to document balls and other game-used items, often to be sold or given to charities.
If the ball supply is running out, a Resident Security Agent gets more. The RSAs also have police backgrounds and are hired by MLB.”
As you can see, Major League Baseball has no intention of going through its own Deflategate incident. Of course, it’s important to remember that baseballs are consistently being thrown out of the game for various reasons. However, it’s reassuring to know that other leagues are making adjustments to help maintain the integrity of the game. We’re not sure the measures that will go into effect in other leagues, but we have no doubt the NFL will work to fix its current problem.
In light of this latest development, perhaps baseball will manage to find its way back to being America’s favorite pastime.