Red Sox

Former Red Sox player thinks Pete Alonso’s theory about MLB manipulating baseballs ‘makes sense’

"Something’s off … Hoping something comes out before the CBA because this could get really messy."

Will Middlebrooks
Will Middlebrooks thinks Pete Alonso's conspiracy theory "makes sense." Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Former Red Sox infielder Will Middlebrooks thinks Pete Alonso might have a point regarding his theory about the MLB manipulating baseballs to benefit teams.

Speaking to CBS Sports, Middlebrooks — who said there wasn’t enough evidence for him to make a firm declaration — noted that the MLB bought the rights to Rawlings baseballs for $395 million.

“Now, they have the rights and the capability of accessing the manufacturer of the baseballs that they use every day,” Middlebrooks said. “That’s something to think about. I’m not a big conspiracy theorist here, but I do think there’s an issue there. And, another thing is they change the ball every year. What other sport does that?”

On Wednesday, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso accused the league of manipulating balls based on the best players in the free agent class.

“In 2019, there was a huge class of free-agent pitchers and then that’s quote-unquote ‘the juiced balls,’ and then 2020 was a strange year with the COVID season,” Alonso said. “But now that we’re back to playing in a regular season with a ton of shortstops or position players that are going to be paid a lot of money like high-caliber players — I mean, yeah, that’s not a coincidence. It’s definitely something that they do.”

Middlebrooks, like Alonso, connected the dots between the best players in the free-agent class and the baseballs used by the league.

“His point makes sense. All of a sudden in 2018, they juice balls and then like he said, they had that big class of pitchers,” Middlebrooks said. “Well, those ERAs are obviously through the roof and there are home runs given up, runs given up, everything is bigger. So you don’t have to pay them as much. It makes sense.”

Alonso’s comments were part of a larger discussion about pitchers using foreign substances on baseballs, which makes them more difficult to hit. Alonso said the manipulation was a bigger issue.

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Middlebrooks agreed.

“This issue with the sticky substance: ‘Hmm, that’s weird that it came up right now in a season in which you altered the baseball more than you ever have in the past,’” Middlebrooks said. “You can ‘de-juice’ it by ‘five percent,’ but you can’t admit to ‘juicing’ it? That makes no sense to me.”

Middlebrooks noted that the commissioner works for team owners, not the players.

“Something’s fishy here. Something’s off,” Middlebrooks said. “Hoping something comes out before the CBA because this could get really, really messy.”

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