Taking A Crack: The Controvery Around Baseball Bats
With the summer here, baseball is in full swing despite several issues and controversies. Aside from the unexpected slump of star players and teams, the major concern revolving Major League Baseball is maple baseball bats . MLB commissioner Bud Selig has addressed the concern of the equipment and hopes to discuss the issue with the league’s union on June 24.
The problem with maple baseball bats is they break more than Kit Kat chocolate bars. They are becoming a major safety concern and are lawsuits waiting to happen. When the baseball bat breaks, they turn into large jagged pieces that can cause harm to players and even fans. It also doesn’t help that approximately 55 per cent of major league baseball players use maple bats.
One way to resolve the issue would be to switch to more useful and reliable equipment. A lot of players use ash baseball bats and its no surprise why, because they’re safer and they’ve been around for decades.
Players and owners have argued throughout history about the dimensions of a baseball bat. In the middle of the 19th century, when baseball was thriving as a young, new sport, players made their own baseball bats.
By experimenting with variations of the equipment, they learned that bats work best with round barrels. From there they set forth two important rules: a baseball bat couldn’t be larger than 2.5 inches in diameter and couldn’t be longer than 42 inches in length (same length allowed today). However, there was no rule regarding the shape. Some players even played with baseball bats with flat surfaces.
But the expectations of the piece of equipment soon changed. A rising company by the name of “Falls City Slugger” started making custom baseball bats for players. As the demand for their custom-made equipment grew, the company decided to change their name to a more recognizable one: “Louisville Slugger” .
With fairly new baseball bats becoming the ideal piece of equipment for everyone, the rules were changed once again. In the 1880s, the rules committee stated that bats could not be sawed off at the end anymore. Instead, baseball bats were told to have a rounded end with an increase in maximum diameter of 2.75 inches.
Wood bats then continued to succeed in baseball throughout the years. As companies like the Louisville Slugger grew, so did their products. Once the 1900s came along, baseball bats turned into endorsements. Shortstop Honus Wagner (pictured above), one of the first members of the Baseball Hall Of Fame, became the first player to be paid to have his autograph on a baseball bat. Even though bats continued to develop throughout the years, they are very similar to those used in today’s game. The only two major differences in the wood bats that are used today are weight (much lighter) and the handles (thinner).
The switch to maple baseball bats could be seen as a complete mistake. The rise of maple bats stemmed from the players who used them. It’s thought that former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Joe Carter popularized the piece of equipment through his style of play and statistics in the early 1990s. Since players admitted that the baseball bat maintained their hardness longer than other variations, it became extremely popular.
The popularity of the maple baseball bat is what’s hurting the sport at the moment. The MLB can’t afford to witness a situation where a player or fan gets hurt because of a broken bat. Hopefully the commissioner can come up with a solution before the number of lawsuits and injuries rise, and the attendance around home plate drops to an all-time low.