Siberian Baseball

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Yes, it must have been the bats

The Year of the Broken Bat is taking on a new wrinkle as Major League Baseball launches its second investigation into maple bats and why they break the way they do and why it happens so often.

Watching big league games this season has been like playing NHL on the Sega Genesis the year after they first introduced breaking glass when you hit it with a slapshot - it's something that used to be a strange occurrence that now seems to happen once a game.

The fact that there are more broken bats this year isn't all that remarkable, and anyone who has seen it happen has probably noticed that the bats are becoming more and more dangerous. Part of this is because maple bats seem to break off in such a manner that leaves a sharp point and part is coming from the frequency of the breaks.

The voice of reason in the story from the East Valley Tribune in Phoenix? Chicago's own Ozzie Guillen:

Stressing "something is wrong here (and) it's dangerous," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen already has talked to MLB officials.

"What are they going to do about it? Nothing," he said. "The only thing they can do is (autograph those that broke), put them on eBay and make money back and buy more bats."

Guillen recalls players from his era using "one dozen or two dozen" bats in a year.

"Now I go to the bat room and (Paul) Konerko has 40 dozen, all these guys have three-, four-, five-, six-dozen bats."

But the question remains, "Who is to blame for this plague on the league's first base coaches? Why Barry Bonds, of course.

Maple bats became popular in the late 1990s and then exploded into popularity after Barry Bonds blasted his record 73 home runs in 2001 with maple. On some teams as many as three-quarters of the hitters use maple.

Yes, it was the maple bats that turned Bonds from a slap-hitting singles and doubles guy to the master of the moonshot.

Now I see why this story appeared in print - no one on television would be able to deliver that theory with a straight face, regardless of how many takes you gave them.



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