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When will baseball do something about maple bats?

Sep 20, 2010, 10:00 AM EDT

Tyler Colvin could have been killed yesterday. Is that what it takes before something is done about maple bats?

So Tyler Colvin could have died yesterday. As Jeff Passan said: I guess someone is going to have to actually die before Major League Baseball and the MLBPA decide to do something.

One possible thing, which IIATMS has been writing about for months, is some sort of device that can keep maple bat pieces from flying out like projectiles. One such device is the Batglove, which is a thin safety film that goes over a bat like tape. According to its makers, Major League Baseball has tested it and has been poised to approve it for some time. IIATMS and the Batglove people say, however, that there has been resistance by bat manufacturers, specifically Rawlings.

As I noted this morning with the Steve Yeager story, it’s not as if maple bats are the only bats that can, if things break just wrong, pose a serious danger to players and fans.  But it certainly seems like we’ve had far more close calls and/or incidents in which people have been hurt involving maple bats than we ever saw with ash.

In light of this baseball and the union’s silence on this is simply not acceptable.  If we’re all being hysterical and maple bats truly are no more of a risk than ash, please, point us crazy folk in the direction of the data which proves us wrong.  If, however, the anecdotal — and in some cases empirical — evidence which has a great many of people in and around the game worried that someone is going to get killed by a shattering maple bat is valid, something has to be done.

While we wait for that, why don’t we all take a look at the fantastic yet scary video of some of the more notable broken bat incidents in recent years, complied by lar from Wezen-Ball:

  1. smokehouse - Sep 20, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    Are all these maple bats? If not, what does it prove? Broken bats are dangerous?

  2. TomTom - Sep 20, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    Bud Selig will review the case and decide that everyone wants everything to remain the same. There’s a human element in getting stabbed by a shard of wood that just shouldn’t be tampered with. Therefore, it will be Bud’s decision, after much research, to keep everything as it was for the history of the game.

  3. Howell - Sep 20, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    Wasn’t there a study a few years back that concluded it wasn’t so much the fact that the bats are Maple as it is the shapes they are using to make bats these days? IE, bigger barrel with smaller handles, similar to aluminum bats, and because of these dimensions, the bats are breaking easier.

  4. Jonny5 - Sep 20, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    Show the Bat glove some love Bud, make them use the glove for all wooden bats. Period. We were always taught not to love without the glove back in school, whatcha waiting for bud? Wrap that wood!

  5. Old Gator - Sep 20, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    I will just repeat my comment from the ATH thread below, because I think it says everything that needs to be said on the subject, and in an uncompromising way:
    Bud Light: you probably must form a committee immediately, or at least before the next major glaciation, to study the remote possibility of issuing a vaguely worded statement about maybe looking more closely at whether or not bats really do shatter! And I want to make it clear that I will settle for nothing less!

  6. BC - Sep 20, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    I say switch to oak.

  7. RichardInBigD - Sep 20, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    In answer to your original question, “When will baseball do something about maple bats?”, the only reasonable answer is ,”sometime after Bud Selig is no longer Commissioner.”. Simple question, simple answer. Same as always…

  8. lar @ wezen-ball - Sep 20, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    Yes, I’d say that’s a pretty good takeaway. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of how dangerous certain things are.
    The danger of being hit by a baseball is a part of the game – though it is curtailed somewhat by the fact that, you know, everyone on the field pays attention to the ball. The bat, however, is something that you don’t pay attention to, nor should have to.
    And it’s not the “maple bat” issue that bothers me specifically. It’s the overall increase of broken bats. It could be that it’s the wood, or it could be (more likely) the way bats are designed these days with the thinner handles and thicker heads (like Howell said). If MLB really cared, they could do things to prevent this: penalize the player for breaking his bat – if a player knows he’ll be out if his bat breaks, he’ll buy bats that won’t break so often; strictly regulate the structure of bats so the handles aren’t so thin; allow players to use something like the BatGlove…
    There’s a lot more that could be done to make the broken bat threat much less dangerous. And maybe seeing a video of a bunch of dangerous plays will help someone realize that…

  9. Dan - Sep 20, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    Old Gator,
    Please do not repeat your comments – reading them once is more than enough.

  10. Dan in Katonah - Sep 20, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    Sadly, this injury will not get it done. Death or a serious, bloody visceral image for people to express outrage about will be needed to reach the tipping point. From the looks of that montage, a pitcher or catcher/ump is going to have to take a shard in the face or the neck before someone gets off his a$$. Ridiculous.

  11. Omega - Sep 20, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    this may be the best post in the history of HBT, and with it’s arrival, HBT may have to be shut down as I can’t imagine anything ever surpassing it. Everything from this point forward is a mere excercise in futility…

  12. Giant Space Ants - Sep 20, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    Don’t change anything. More and more people nowadays are attracted to violence, and if baseball wants to keep the attention span of the average viewer, it needs to become a bloodsport. Rather than ban maple bats, require them to be used at all times. Implement a point system for hitting fielders with your broken bat (1 for the catcher, 5 for pitcher, 10 for infielder, 25 for outfielder). Allow the fielders to throw the broken bats at runners for outs (Clemens was a visionary). Hell, let the fans get in on it; when a pitcher walks a batter or a hitter K’s, allow them to throw their own bat substitutes- thundersticks, fishing poles, piano legs, 2×4’s- at the player in question. I’m telling you people, y’all are looking at this wrong- in this day and age, we need to move in the other direction. We need return the game to its roots- the roots of human nature. We need Barbarism. We need Blood.

  13. Kevin S. - Sep 20, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    Craig, had Colvin been killed or seriously harmed last night while baseball, for no apparent reason, sat on the technology to prevent the incident, could they have been legally liable?

  14. Craig Calcaterra - Sep 20, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    Doubtful. It’s not about whether they adopted some technology that could have prevented a problem. It’s about whether the problem — maple bats — are known to be so dangerous that not doing something was unquestionably the wrong thing to do.
    While I believe that maple bats are more dangerous than ash, it’s just that — a belief — at this point. The evidence that would allow a jury to impose liability for either not banning maple (or doing the glove thing or whatever) would have to be more rigorous than the anecdotal evidence we have on maple bats now.

  15. John_Michael - Sep 20, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    Or a ‘big name.’

  16. John_Michael - Sep 20, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    I’d cut off the ears of all the players I impaled and wear them shriveled and blackened on a necklace.

  17. Jonny5 - Sep 20, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    This is so important to me that this friday Mets @ Phills I’ll personally take a bat shard to the face or throat area if one comes my way. See i’m more than willing to take a risk to get this fixed. Now why won’t the guy who gets paid to, do it??
    Bud, bud, he’s our man, if he doesn’t do it more than likely someone else will, one day later when he steps down and stuff !!! Wooo!! (High leg kick from my secretary…)

  18. Jonny5 - Sep 20, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    Thank you. You are one of the few who appreciate some good old fashioned infantile remarks laced with innuendos only descernable by others with the infantile perception that I have. I thought my type was on the extinction warning list, but thanks to you we’ve hit “endangered”. Let’s hear it for Omega!!! You have procreated? I hope? The whole wrap that wood thing, ignore it. The world will be better for it.

  19. Old Gator - Sep 20, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    If you’re the same Dan, we’re supposed to have a truce, remember? If you’re not, just don’t read ’em the second time.

  20. Dan in Katonah - Sep 20, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Not to mention that in most states Workers’ Compensation laws bar a personal injury lawsuit against an employer. Can’t imagine any luck with a products liability suit against the bat manufacturer, either.

  21. Old Gator - Sep 20, 2010 at 7:16 PM

    That book really got into your system. Wonderful, wonderful.

  22. The Proud Liberal - Sep 21, 2010 at 4:50 AM

    If anyone believes that Let It Be Bud will ever do anything about the bat issue, let alone replay they are nuts. When a player or fan gets seriously injured from a bat shard, I have a strong feeling that a member of our glorious congress will get involved, there will be an investigation and a hearing…Congress will threaten subpoenas and then the media and maybe a rogue member of congress will discuss why action was not already taken, and at some point someone will mention baseballs anti trust exemption…AND THEN…the commishoner whether Mr. Selig or the next one, will finally do something about it…
    You know how I know this…This is basically the path the whole steriods issue went and in stead of you know…fixing the damn econemy, promoting world peace, or the million of other legitamate things congress should be doing…Once again the great american pastime will be front and center…
    End of Rant…

  23. Brian - Sep 21, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    In Florida (and I’d assume in many other states), professional athletes aren’t subject to workers’ compensation coverage. So, Colvin could potentially pursue a liability claim against MLB. Just FYI.

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