Players seek another look at 'dead' ball

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 26, 2012)
Even the pitchers are concerned that the lack of home runs might be detracting from the game.
Japan's players union has requested that Nippon Pro Baseball reexamine the unified baseball introduced last season that has led to a dramatic reduction in home runs.
The less lively baseball, produced by Mizuno, was adopted for all Japan pro baseball games, replacing a system in which teams could use a manufacturer of their choosing as long as it met specifications.
Last season saw home runs fall 40 percent in both the Central and Pacific leagues, and, at the current rate, that percentage could get even higher this season compared with 2010.
At an administrative meeting with league officials at Koshien Stadium on Tuesday, the union expressed its concern that the proliferation of low-scoring games might lessen fan interest.
The union's request came after canvassing opinions from players from all teams.
"Many were of the opinion of 'how far can continue like this,'" union president Takahiro Arai of the Hanshin Tigers said. "Even pitchers have said as much."
In 2010, the 12 Japan pro teams combined for 1,605 home runs in 864 games, an average of 1.9 per game. Last season, the total dropped to 939, or 1.1 per game.
This season, the numbers have dropped to less than one home run per game, with just 85 in 118 games.
Through Tuesday's games, there have been 36 shutouts and seven starting pitchers--four in the Pacific and three in the Central--have earned run averages below 1.00.
(Note: In other media reports, NPB Commissioner Ryozo Kato was quoted as saying he did not recognize the unified ball flies less than the one played by MLB.)