The Jump, May 7: Should high school baseball switch to wood bats?
I'm a baseball guy. Love everything about the sport. Like so many, I played the game growing up, first as a kid and then as a high schooler. That's not to say I don't enjoy other sports as well, but baseball was my "first love," corny as that may sound.
Despite all that, I've never had a particularly strong opinion on the whole wood vs. metal bat controversy. I understand switching to wood bats in high school might make the game safer. I also understand that switching to wood would drastically change the high school game. Many hitters would have an extremely difficult time adjusting to wood bats, have a different feel and are much less forgiving. The high school game would tip more toward the pitcher, and you'd likely see a noticeable dip in runs scored.
More and more, however, it seems legislators and other concerned parties are calling for a ban on metal bats. The most recent outcry has occurred in California, where state officials are seeking a two-year moratorium on the use of metal bats. This is in response to incident in which a 16-year-old pitcher was left in a coma for several weeks after bring struck by a line drive. Officials say the moratorium would allow time for tests to be conducted to find out if metals bats are truly more dangerous than wood. (Metal bats are already banned in New York City and North Dakota).
The answer to that question is obvious: Of course metal is more dangerous. The sweet spot on a metal bat is bigger. The weight distribution is better, making them easier to swing. And top-of-the-line metal bats (which, by the way, go for close to $400 these days), feature various alloys and technologies that sound like something out of a science fiction novel.
Perhaps the issue is not metal vs. wood. Perhaps it's the fact that in the arms race to devise the most effective, technologically advanced baseball bat, companies like Easton and Louisville Slugger have created what one California legislator termed a "bat on steroids." Perhaps the ideal solution is to rein in this arms race, and provide some greater restrictions on just how much technology goes into metal bats.
Sadly, solutions a rarely so easy. The baseball bat business is big, competitive and cash-infused, and you can bet these companies won't sit back and merrily accept any decision which would put their industry on a choke chain. We may have to take two steps back (banning metal all together) before we can take on step forward (implementing common-sense solutions to make metal bats safer).
Then again, I'd rather high school federations do that than wait for another on-field tragedy to force their hand.
More local teams locked YAIAA division titles on Thursday:
- In baseball, West York toppled New Oxford to take the Division II crown.
- In softball, Bermudian Springs continued its outstanding season with a comeback victory over West York to capture the Division III crown.
- While the lacrosse world deals with the tragic events at the University of Virginia, one local group is doing its part to show the sport's sometimes negative reputation is unfounded.
- In softball, Kennard-Dale won a thriller against Spring Grove.
- So much for that push for spring football practice: PIAA executive director Brad Cashman shoots it down. From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.