This article appeared in the October 22, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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The integrity of 2019 World Series

Matt Slocum/AP
Houston Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker at batting practice Oct. 21, 2019, for baseball's World Series in Houston. The Astros face the Washington Nationals in Game 1 on Tuesday night.
David Clark Scott
Audience Engagement Editor

Today’s five hand-picked stories cover a U.S. immigration policy that favors self-sufficiency, the changing role of the world’s superpower, parsing the presidential quid pro quo, innovation under the sea, and books that delve into sexism, activism, and forgiveness. 

Let’s start with a ball of yarn. 

As Meredith Wills pulled on that yarn, she produced the best theories about how major league baseballs were “juiced” to fly farther. Now, on the eve of the 2019 World Series, the balls are suddenly being dejuiced.

You see, Dr. Wills is a knitter, a fan of the game, and has a Ph.D. in astrophysics. The confluence meant she had disassembled a bunch of baseballs and used the yarn from inside the balls to knit vintage-pattern Colorado Rockies socks. She kept the outer stitching or laces. In 2017, she calculated those laces were 9% thicker than in past years. That meant less drag and a burst of home runs. 

This year, baseballs started flying out of the park again – with a home run surge of 21% over 2018. Major League Baseball denies any changes. But Dr. Wills took some ball measurements, and found the baseball maker, Rawlings, had doubled production to serve the major and minor leagues. To keep pace, Rawlings dried the balls faster which made leather smoother, Dr. Wills told “The Lead” this week. The balls flew farther, much farther. 

As the World Series opens tonight, the game’s integrity is again falling short, and so are the fly balls. But Dr. Wills and her two cats are on it, she says via Twitter. I’m counting on a knitter’s ingenuity, a scientific mind, and a pure love of the game to tell us what’s really going on.

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This article appeared in the October 22, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 10/22 edition