There’s nothing like the feel of a baseball in the palm of your hand. The dirt and sweat of hours of conditioning wrapped up into 108 double stitches and 3 inches of diameter. And while the feel is almost as classic as the game itself, it’s a feel that might not be around so much longer. A recent report from the DI Committee of NCAA Baseball will be making a switch to flat-seamed baseballs starting with the 2015 Division I tournament.
With a recent study done by the Washington State University Sports Science Laboratory, it was found that a flat-seamed baseball pitched from a machine at the average conditions that a Division I home run is hit (95 mph, 25 degree angle, 1,400 rpm) travelled 20 feet further than a raised-seemed baseball. And while not every flat-seamed baseball will guarantee an extra 20 feet to ones hit, it is believed that this extra 20 feet, in addition to multiple other variables (bat speed, wind, etc.) will be the difference between an exciting game and a, well… boring one:
“‘We anticipate that this will moderately increase scoring but not take it back to the days where we were dealing with outrageous scores that looked more like football scores,’ said Dennis Farrell, who is the committee chair and the commissioner of the Big West Conference.” Greg Johnson, NCAA.com
And scientifically speaking, Dennis Farrell could be correct. With a flatter seam, the Division I baseball will become more aerodynamic, creating less drag and ultimately allowing for further ball travel.
Still, ball travel isn’t the only concern. Questions have also been raised about how well Division I pitchers will be able to adapt to the flat-seamed baseballs. And while every question is valid, most coaches feel their pitchers will adjust just fine. After all, the new flat-seamed baseball will still have .048 inch seams, as opposed to the .031 inch seams used in the Major Leagues, which could pose as an even larger adjustment later on.