The Yankees start a homestand on Tuesday night with a game against the powerful Texas Rangers. That means everyone is thinking about home runs again and trying to figure out just why they come so often at Yankee Stadium. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has come up with a new answer in an attempt to deflect attention from his team's shiny new ballpark.
"I think we have a juiced-ball issue that can randomly happen year-to-year," Cashman told the Daily News.
The numbers don't really bear that out. The numbers from 2008 to 2009 are fairly constant. If you exclude both Yankee Stadiums from the numbers, the American League has gone from 0.97 home runs per game in 2008 to 1.01 home runs per game in 2009. If you add the old Yankee Stadium to 2008 figures, it rises to almost exactly one homer per game. When the new park is added to 2009 totals, however, the homers per game jumps to 1.1, a much more significant difference.
The National League, which one would assume also plays with these newly juiced balls, has dropped from just over one homer per game to 0.94 per game this season.
Larry Bowa, who is on Joe Torre's coaching staff with the Dodgers, also thinks the balls are being wound tighter, and theorizes that baseball wanted to keep the amount of home runs consistent even though steroids have been taken out of the game. That makes a certain amount of sense, but it still doesn't explain why the numbers would be skewed so much by the games played at Yankee Stadium.
It's only June, and it takes more than one season to fully appreciate the way a park affects games, so there's no reason for the Yankees to reach this far into a bag of excuses at this point. It's clearly something going on in the Bronx -- wind, straight fences, weather -- and not something that's going on across the game of baseball, however.