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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Ban the Aluminum Bat!

Would you meddle with a high school baseball player’s option for the kind of bat he could use? Well, starting next spring, he may no longer have a choice.

Last week, high school committee of athletic official voted in favor of banning aluminum bats from the 2003 Massachusetts high school baseball tournament, and added the recommendation that they not be used at all during the regular season.

You know what? It’s about time.

Just as a point of information, aluminum bats are used on every amateur level from little league to college.

Nevertheless, aluminum baseball bats are artificial instruments that are used for nothing else than to boost the ego and pile up big offensive statistics. Hey kiddies, want to hit like Bonds or McGwire and send the ball into orbit. Then put down that puny wooden matchstick and pick up the shiny metal rod for maximum launch ability.

Yet, the decision to forego aluminum bats had nothing to do with high school baseball players of Massachusetts shattering the offensive numbers of yesteryear. The advocates for the change say that it was a matter of the players’ safety. However, opponents disagree and refuse to give credence to the claim, citing that there are no statistics that show that aluminum bats are any more dangerous than wooden bats.

Also in the mix of the debate were spokesmen of the companies that manufacture aluminum bats. That’s no surprise, because no ping-ping (sound of metal bat hitting ball) means no ching-ching ($$).

Some administrators and coaches say that aluminum bats help cut down on costs. Many high school teams have to be very conscientious of the cost of equipment. An aluminum bat can last for years where as a wooden bat can break into splinters.

Well, after having presented the arguments of both sides, I’ll tell you why I back the ban.

First of all, let’s make one thing clear. Aluminum bats produce longer distances and higher velocities than wooden bats. It’s simple physics.

If a struck baseball is coming back at a pitcher faster, it means the player has less time to react. Keep in mind that you’re dealing with adolescents who, even if they have been playing the game for years, do not have the developed reflexes of older professional players. Furthermore, if a player is unfortunate enough to be hit by the ball, then the severity of injury could be increased because the impact had more speed.

Player safety should come first and the decision shows that a select group of adults agree. The decision was not unanimous, but at least there was a majority that felt the best thing for the teens was to eliminate the aluminum bats in the championship tournament, and push for the permanent removal for all games. Although the decision will not be ratified by the proper board until next month, it looks like the beginning of the end for the aluminum bat.

As an aside, I wish that little leagues and pony leagues would follow suit and stick with the wooden bats. However, that is never going to happen. There is not governing body to craft and enforce such rules. But it would be nice to replace the ping of the bat with the crack of the bat, because although the sound is more aesthetically pleasing to my ears, it is also safer overall for the kiddies.

(After reading this column, I hope a few you got my pun in the opening sentence.)