John Bowker, Giants vs Cardinals, April 18, 2008.
It takes a lot to get me back into blogging mode these days. And it’s not because I don’t want to but, like everyone else, I’m busy. So when I read an article in this morning’s Wall Street Journal I couldn’t contain myself.
The article was written by Jo Craven McGinty, “Behind Broken Baseball Bats, Broken Records.” Blame Barry, she says, and that got my attention. Evidently the year that Bonds hit his record 73 home runs, he was using a maple wood bat, unlike the ash bats that were commonplace in the majors at the time.
Today the use of maple wood bats has increased to nearly 75% of all bats used in the major leagues. There’s controversy about whether maple vs ash bats contribute to more home runs. The problem is that maple is more likely to split into multiple pieces when it breaks, while ash “flakes”. In other words, it can hurt people. Like it did on June 5 at Fenway Park, when it smashed into the stands and into the face of a fan.
Kurt Ainsworth, Marucci Sports, puts it this way. “When you have future Hall of Famers putting up crazy numbers, it’s hard for MLB to take those bats out of their hands.” Really. Is that what it means? You mean Barry Bonds record home runs was due to his “bat” and had nothing to do with steroids? According to Lloyd Smith, Director of the Sports Science Lab at Washington State University, “The speed of the ball coming off maple is no different from the speed of the ball coming off ash.”
But here’s the kicker. According to McGinty’s article, which also deals with the diameter, density and slope of grain of the bats, regulations have reduced the number of broken bats. “Since 2013 the minimum density of the barrel of the bat is 0.0245 pounds per cubic inch. The Regulations have reduced the number of broken bats.” But, as she notes, there are exceptions to the rules:
“Players who used low-density bats before the rules took effect are grandfathered in and at least 15% of maple bats used in MLB today have densities below 0.0245.”
Are you kidding me? If there’s any substance to this regulation at all, why would you take the easy way out and let any of the players keep using the maple bats?
I’ll bet money on the fact someone out there has the answer. And I hope it’s not because the guys who are hitting the homers are the ones who are still using those bats and drawing the fans through the gates. I mean it can’t always be about the money, can it?