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Conspiracy theorists — some major league players among them — need not squint hard to connect the dots: In 2014, scoring sank to its lowest full-season level since 1976, and restoring offense was a hot topic over the following winter. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported in January 2015 that the league had recently sent the MLB Players Association a packet of ideas for bolstering scoring, one of which was “wrapping the ball tighter to make it fly farther.” While that wasn’t a formal proposal, it seems somewhat convenient that balls did start flying farther so soon, particularly in a way that would be consistent with an altered ball being introduced at the All-Star break, when some teams replenish their supply. This wouldn’t be the first time that the baseball’s guts have been quietly tweaked , or that a livelier ball has been introduced on the sly at midseason. And there is recent precedent for a similar ball-and-switch in a high-level league, where (as Rob Manfred is aware ) things didn’t end well for its commissioner.