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Martin Maldonado hit the cover off a baseball — literally

You’ll often hear a baseball player going through a good stretch at the plate described as “hitting the cover off the baseball.” What you never hear is someone described as “hitting the cover off the baseball,” followed by no, seriously, he hit the cover off the baseball.

Because it never actually happens in real life.

But it did happen on Friday night in Pittsburgh. Milwaukee Brewers backup catcher Martin Maldonado literally knocked the cover right off the baseball on a ground ball to third baseman Pedro Alvarez during their a 5-3 victory over the Pirates.

With the cover hanging on for dear life, Alvarez fielded the baseball cleanly and attempted to make a throw across the diamond. Predictably, that failed, as the baseball nearly fell apart at the seams in the air.

Here's a look at what was left. 

Take it from the guys who cover the game for a living. It was quite the unusual sight. One you've probably only seen in baseball movies like The Natural and The Sandlot.  

Hall of Famer Frank Thomas recently tweeted his belief that something unusual was going on with the baseballs this season after he incorrectly assumed they were flying out of the park at a higher rate in April. While his reasoning may not have been completely factual, perhaps his perception was spot on. After all, we’re talking about a player who during his prime seasons saw the baseball and pounded the baseball just as well as anybody in the game’s storied history.

Or maybe not.

It’s tough to say, but Thomas may have been on to something without realizing exactly what it was. 

There's also a photo from last week that shows a baseball literally destroyed by Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox. It wasn't one of his home run balls, but rather a foul ball. 

Whatever the reason, we have evidence of two baseballs nearly coming apart. One we saw with our own eyes, so maybe it is time to wind them just a little tighter.  

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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