Baseball’s Battle of Bats starts next week.
That’s when major-league executives will formally ask players to stop stepping to the plate with maple bats. The execs will ask them to use ash bats instead.
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The requests, of course, will be denied by the players’ association since nearly half the hitters in MLB – including the Blue Jays’ Vernon Wells -- prefer maple. It’s been this way since Ottawa manufacturer Sam Holman first introduced maple bats to sluggers such as Joe Carter and Barry Bonds late last decade. Many feel maple bats are harder than ash bats and enhance their power and hitting abilities.
As reported here yesterday, however, MLB wants to abolish maple bats because of concerns that they’re shattering too frequently and endangering lives.
What we didn’t mention yesterday is that a researcher hired by MLB has found that maple is actually no better for batters than ash.
“The two woods are essentially the same at batted-ball speeds,” said Jim Sherwood of the Baseball Research Centre at the University of Massachusetts. “Maple has no advantage in getting a longer hit over an ash bat.”
Sherwood also discovered that, while ash bats crack, maple bats snap, causing sharp-ended barrels to fly often and unpredictably.
Armed with Sherwood’s information, MLB will tell the union that safety should come first and that maple bats must go.
“We’ll meet on this,” union chief Don Fehr acknowledged. “We’ll look at it in good faith.”
Yeah, right. This is a battle that’ll become a war.
- Snicker over this tidbit if you’d like, (although it’s really no funnier than the preseason prediction by analyst/homer Rance Mulliniks that the woebegone Jays would win the World Series this year): A source hears manager John Gibbons gets axed soon and replaced by – brace yourself – ex-skipper Cito Gaston, who’ll try to pass on his hitting wisdom. . .In Florida, the Tampa Bay Rays are for real, for sure, but the Marlins? Not so much. They’re winning, granted, but only three of their victories in the season’s first quarter were against above-.500 teams, and they’re 8-1 against the hapless Washington Nationals. . . The Nats were so elated with their 10-4 victory over the Mets Monday that “they were cheerleading in the dugout like a bunch of softball girls,” according to New York pitcher Nelson Figueroa.
- And so the CFL does no notable recruiting in the entire off-season except for receivers David Boston and, likely, Charles Rogers – two NFL discards with drug histories. And the CFL still has no drug policy?