Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 26, 2008
BASEBALL: To Ash You Shall Return

Peter Abraham summarizes the problem with unsafe, easily-splintered maple bats, and - sadly - why they are yet another thing that, as was so long true for steroids and the DH rule, (1) should be subject to immediate rulemaking by the Commissioner but instead (2) will likely be held hostage indefinitely by the players' union in the hopes of getting the owners to make some concession in return for a ban. Which is not to suggest in either case that the owners are pillars of virtue, just that so long as the collective bargaining process is in the way, considerations of the best interests of the game take a back seat to the grim zero-sum logic of the bargaining table. You can see, by contrast, how the game's control over umpiring has improved greatly since the umpires' union was for all intents and purposes broken by the owners.

David Pinto suggests that Bill James has argued for requiring all players to use identical bats - I'm not sure if this is a reference to the Historical Abstract's essay on the size of bat handles vs. barrels of something more recent...certainly, there should be some allowance for the size of the batter (one needn't make Luis Castillo and Adam Dunn use exactly the same bat), but it does seem entirely reasonable, and likely to end the arms' race towards ever-narrower-handled and more-fragile bats, to standardize the equipment more; the pitcher doesn't get to choose the baseball, after all. James has been arguing for years that the whip-handled bats have been as big a factor in the offensive upsurge of the last 15 years as smaller ballparks and more muscular hitters; a restoration of a little of the tradidtional balance of power on that front would not be a bad thing either.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:29 AM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

It's basic physics. Kinetic energy is proportional to mass, so heavier bats can help you hit the ball hard, but it's also proportional to the square of the velocity, so better bat speed helps more.

Posted by: Neil Stevens at June 26, 2008 12:27 PM

I think, in this day and age of managers who cannot come to the ballpark without twelve pitchers, that if a concession to the union is needed, an extra roster spot might not be a bad idea. Perhaps it's just the large number of active but non-walking wounded the Mets have carried this year, but I'm tired of watching games where the manager has no options.

Posted by: Jerry at June 26, 2008 2:15 PM
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