Monday, June 9, 2008

Bad Bats

Baseball needs to do something about those maple bats.

If you've been watching any ballgames the last year or two, you've undoubtedly noticed an increasing number of shattered bats. "So what?" you say. Broken bats have always been part of baseball.

Not like this. In the past, the broken bat was a hallmark of a good pitch--in on the hands. Now, you're seeing bats explode even when hitters get good wood on the ball.

The question is: what kind of wood? For many years, the predominant material for bats was ash. But once Barry Bonds started swatting homers in record numbers using a maple bat, lots of other players switched to maple, too. It's harder than ash, but harder can also mean more brittle. For the record: there's no proof that a harder maple bat adds anything to how far a guy can hit a ball. But try telling that to ballplayers, who will buy or do anything if they think it'll help.

The problem with the maple bats is not that they change the game itself. The problem is that they are dangerous as hell. At least one fan and one coach have been badly injured by bat shrapnel. Several pitchers have been hit (though so far, none have been seriously hurt). But it will certainly happen eventually.

Look, if baseball can make a big deal out of making on-field coaches wear batting helmets and stay within the lines of their coaching boxes because one guy was killed by a line drive (an incident regarded by almost everyone in the sport as freak occurrence), then it can damn well ban the maple bats to protect everyone at the ballpark.

Let's not wait for someone to be killed.

No comments: