by Alex Poletti
Adding fire to the growing rumors that the official MLB baseballs have been altered to produce more offense, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor hit an astonishing no-handed home run without a bat. Critics say this is irrefutable evidence that commissioner Rob Manfred is juicing balls.
“This is a clear cut case right here,” a USA Today article reads. “Lindor is no doubt a powerful guy, but to hit a home run—not just one-handed, but no-handed—and to hit it without having a bat in your hands closes the case.”
Lindor hit the two-run shot in the third inning of Cleveland’s home game against the Kansas City Royals, which they went on to win 5-4. While some pundits have suggested that Lindor’s momentum could have been enough to get the ball out of the park, the fact that Lindor wasn’t using a bat discredits most contrarian arguments.
“If you look at the stride, he’s generating considerable power,” MLB analyst and former second baseman Harold Reynolds says. “If you barrel up the bat on that swing, I don’t care if you’re throwing the bat at it, it’s gonna go a long way. As for the fact that there was no bat… that’s a little more complicated.”
Speculation of the conspiracy first arose after Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander started giving up more home runs and complained about it to SB Nation.
“Major League Baseball’s turning this game into a joke,” the always-bridesmaid of Cy Young voting avers. “We all know what happened. Manfred the first time he came in, what’d he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It’s not coincidence. We’re not idiots.”
Not all Major Leaguers subscribe to the 2011 MVP winner’s theory. One such doubter is the man who hit the homer in question.
“I don’t know about all this talk of juiced balls,” the shortstop says. “I mean, it was a pretty good swing, even if I was a bit off-balance. I heard the crack of the ball meeting the air, and then it went. It all seems reasonable to me.”
Lindor’s homer adds more to Verlander’s case than any incident preceding it. Now, the balls may not just be juiced, according to juiced ball-truthers, but controlled by commissioner Rob Manfred himself.
“The ball went about 95 percent of the way to the catcher’s mitt, then just flung out towards right field,” Verlander explains. “So either Manfred has some big magnet in each ball or it’s actually a drone in disguise. You know what I think it is? I think it’s mind control.
At this point in the interview, Verlander pulled out two tinfoil hats, put one on and handed the other to a reporter from The Second String.
Here, put on one of these,” he says. “If you put this on, Manfred can’t control you.”