A broken bat was once a great two-piece souvenir for a fan at a game, but it has become a weapon that will one day kill someone. Yet, with injuries to players, umpires, and fans mounting up daily, Commissioner Bud Selig, continues to ignore a proven solution–Why?
[SEE examples below.]
MLB and the Players Association have taken limited action: in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, there is a ban on low-density maple bats, but Bud has thus far ignored a much better solution.
The ban would only apply to new major leaguers. Other players would be grandfathered and could continue using low-density bats if desired.
In other words, every player who has ever appeared in an MLB game can still use the low-density bats as long as they are active.
But there may be a better, more comprehensive, low-tech solution to the problem: no, not WD40, bungee cords, or duct tape.
But it is tape, specifically: polymeric tape, commonly used to protect RV’s and cars from road damage.
While driving home to Arizona through the California desert in July 2008, an RV dealer heard a news report about a woman that was severely injured while attending a baseball game. The broken barrel of the bat flew into the stands and struck her in the head shattering her jaw. She was required to have titanium plates surgically inserted to reconstruct portions of her face.
The man was emotionally dismayed and upset, until the rational side of his brain said: “Aha!” His brain made a neural connection to a memory trace about a special type of polymeric tape that is used to protect the RV’s he had been selling.
Thus began the development of a solution to the Case of the Broken Bat: that man, Stephen Rauso, had over 17 years experience selling RV’s, took the idea to his brother Phillip, Jr., who has worked as an engineer for Boeing Aerospace and Ross Products for over 25 years.
A few thousand hours and 24 months later, without any major outside investors, the Brothers Rauso created an elegant, inexpensive [$4 per bat] solution or the lethal bat problem.
Their ingenious design exceeds the requirements and rules that MLB has regarding the use of baseball bats in professional game-play MLB Rule 1.10 states that any substance or material is prohibited 18” above the handle of the bat, but any type of tape or substance is allowed on the bottom 18″ of the bat.
The “The BatGlove” tape can be applied by the bat boy, or player in the dugout in a few seconds, or by the bat factory.
Even the oblivious, Bud Selig, had to notice that he issued testing protocols for the MLB research facilities located at University of Lowell/UMASS, to test “The BatGlove; baseballs were launched from an air cannon at speeds ranging between 125-198 mph, to test the mettle of the Rauso brothers’ invention.
Didn’t Selig read the tests that showed that solid wood bats, without the tape, shattered into potentially lethal, spear fragments, but the bats with the thin protective veneer of “The BatGlove” prevented the bat from shattering into several sharp pieces.
Didn’t Bud read the report that said that the very test sequence and protocol that he issued to test the Rauso brothers’ “The BatGlove” had a 100% success rate?
The best part was that the virtually invisible adhesive veneer did not change the dynamics, performance or exit speed of the baseball or the overall performance of the bat and made then more durable.
Hasn’t Bud talked to the Arizona Diamondbacks President & CEO, Derrick Hall, who immediately implemented the tape in the minor leagues, where it proved itself in game situation?
Didn’t Bud see that Mark Grace, former Diamondbacks first-baseman and FOX Sports Arizona announcer, who developed and aired a 3-Part Series: The Dangers of Broken Bats?
[Ed. NOTE: If their invention takes off, the Rauso Brothers will donate a percentage of the proceeds, for the life of the patent, towards the Sickle-Cell Foundation and the Children’s Cancer Hospitals.]
The cost of a bat ranges from $80 to $175; adding “The BatGlove,” is just $4, a no-brainer bargain, considering the damage to players and fans and the appertaining legal actions.
So, why hasn’t Bud Selig taken any action on it?
Wendy Thurm from FanGraphs and Baseball Nation, interviewed, Jason Rosenberg, a citizen advocate for bat safety and blogger @ http://itsaboutthemoney.net/archives/2010/06/29/the-batglove-story/ (Jason@IIATMS) and he told Wendy:
I’ve been as outspoken as anyone about this issue. The new restriction on bat density for new players is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough.
A number of potential solutions have been developed. Some include radical multi-piece bats that will likely never see a major league game under current MLB Rule 1.10 as they fundamentally change the time-honored equipment of the game. Other solutions include ultra-thin polymer films that wrap the bat to keep the barrel and handle in place should the bat suffer what the manufacturers call a “multi-part failure”, something that has passed significant MLB-approved testing at their Lowell, MA facility.
Regardless of the possible remedies available now or in the future, as long as the players want the thin handle, heavy barrel bats that create a whip-like action, bats will continue to shatter. According to MLB regulations, the difference between the bat length and weight can be no greater than 3.5. In other words, a 35” bat cannot be lighter than 31.5 oz. Bats with bigger barrels and narrower handles that push the limits of physics and this rule (or exceed them due to player modification such as sanding the handles for weight/narrowness) all greatly contribute to this problem.
But bats of all shapes and sizes have been used to play the game since it was invented. The wood used once included: hickory, white and pitch pine, elm, poplar, spruce, cherry, sycamore, basswood and English willow; hence the old expression: “Use the willow.”
By about 1870 white ash emerged as the predominant wood for bats. Even back then, players were fussy about their bats; in the 1908, bnewspaper article, “Bats Used by Leading Hitters,” (1) it was reported that players wanted ash that was grown on the north side of the hills in Kentucky, believing that “the atmosphere on that side…enables the grain to be more perfect.”
According to Peter Morris in “A Game of Inches,” Harmon Killebrew [career: 1954-75] was the first hitter to experiment with a maple bat, but he went back to ash bats.
Barry Bonds [1986-2007] revived interest in the maple bats, when, in 2001, he used the “Sam Bat” during the infamous Break The Babe’s Record fiasco.
Players turned to maple bats, because they believed that they were “harder” and would increase the impact on the baseball. But the acceleration advantage also made line drive more dangerous to pitchers and Third basemen, since they break differently, more dangerously, than ash bats; the barrels on maple bats often have sharp, jagged edges.
“When we broke a bat, it was just cracked. Now, it shatters…
It should have been stopped a couple of years ago,” [Hall of Famer Al Kaline]
In the past fifteen to twenty years there has been a trend toward bats with thin handles and fatter barrels; some players would shave the handles down even further,, while others rubbed them with chicken bones.
With more players arriving in MLB from colleges, this style bat has gained popularity, since it was similar to the aluminum bats, they had used. Now aluminum bats, because the ball pings off them at alarmingly accelerated rates, are essentially banned in colleges and High Schools and are being replaced with bats made from resin-based materials. [Commonly called “B B Core.”]
The bottom line is this: the tape device, “The BatGlove,” invented by the Brothers Rauso, is the grand solution, since it can be used on any wooden bat, including maple, to prevent the bat from broadcasting deadly bat shards; while the bats will still break and shatter, the pieces are encased in the tape cocoon and remain with the broken bat.
The Rauso’s company has contacted at least two bat companies, Hillerich & Bradsby and Rawlings Group to partner with “The BatGlove,” but have received no reply.
If the safety of the players and fans is on his blurry radar, why hasn’t Commissioner Bud Selig pursued this elegant solution?
Mr. Commissioner: wake up, pick up the phone, earn some small portion of your $22 million salary, and make this happen; call now [see contact information, below.]
Because, if you choose to delay, dissemble and duck, when a player or fan is inevitably killed by a broken bat shard, the process server will find you skulking under your desk, hand YOU the subpoena and say:
“This, Bud’s– for YOU!”
Make the call…
Hillerich & Bradsby Co.
Address: 1800 S Archibald Ave, Ontario, CA,
91761-7647 Phone: 909-923-4055 Fax: 909-923-2578
510 Maryville University Dr. Suite 110
St. Louis, MO 63141 [corporate office, 314-819-2800]
BAT INJURY BLOTTER:
Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw was sitting in the dugout when he was hit on the side of the head by a fragment of Hanley Ramirez‘s shattered maple bat.
Toronto pitching Coach Bruce Walton threw up his arms in the dugout to avoid getting hit in the face. “It was coming straight at eye level,” Walton told reporters. “It was like someone swung a bat and hit me as hard as they could.”
A broken bat catapulted into a dugout and sliced Pittsburgh Pirates hitting Coach Don Long’s face.
Another went into the stands and broke a fan’s jaw.
Umpire Brian O’Nora suffered a concussion and a cut on his forehead after part of Miguel Oliva’s broken bat hit him in the head in a game in 2008.
Chicago Cubs rookie Tyler Colvin was impaled by part of a bat while running from third to home on a double by teammate Welington Castillo. The bat caused a puncture wound in the left side of his torso just below the collarbone. Colvin is out for the remainder of the season.
(1) New York Herald, reprinted in the Washington Post, 9/6/1908, section M3.)
- maple vs. ash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXAXDyiXNug
- MLB tests: http://batglove.com/MLB_Tests.html
- High Speed video, ash and maple: http://batglove.com/Video/Video.html
- ESPN Q&A with Sam Holman: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3540538