Japan league hit by second bouncy ball blunder

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 16 2014 07:13 PM | Updated as of Apr 17 2014 03:13 AM

TOKYO - Japan's professional baseball league was facing another bouncy ball scandal Tuesday as sports equipment giant Mizuno apologized for a defect that turned the nation's top sport into a slugfest.

The firm blamed a manufacturing defect, after league officials said they detected a problem with game balls following the season opener last month.

"This happened because of Mizuno's failure to control our operations," company president Akito Mizuno told a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Last year, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) commissioner Ryozo Kato was forced to quit after it was discovered that the league and Mizuno conspired to tweak the balls to make the game more exciting.

After months of repeated denials and a huge surge in home runs, the league admitted that it had changed specifications of the balls to give them greater bounce off the bat.

The league also admitted that it had demanded its manufacturer keep quiet about the switch.

On Tuesday, Mizuno said there was no subterfuge this time around.

It said wool yarn wrapped around the balls' inner core was too dry, requiring more material which ultimately created greater bounce than regulations allow.

Japanese media said there have been 131 home runs this season compared to 113 at the same time last year.

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