I’m pleased to present a guest post from Gerry Garte, who sent me the following piece on Thursday. I encourage anyone who’s interested in writing for this site to do likewise.
Shattering bats are causing injuries and havoc on the baseball diamond.
Some bats being produced today are splintering and separating long-ways. From time to time, the flying wood has become a threat to players on the infield.
The most difficult of these injuries came on September 19 at Sun Life Stadium in South Florida.
Cubs Tyler Colvin was running third to home, watching the flight of a ball hit by Cubs Welington Castillo. As Colvin watched, a large piece of splintered wood hit him in the upper chest. The wood bounced off, but it had punctured his chest. Colvin was recovering the last two weeks of the season.
A few days after Colvin was hurt, ace pitcher Cliff Lee of Texas was struck behind his ear by a piece of shattered bat from Oakland’s Jack Cust. Light bleeding, but Lee was able to continue.
How close do we need to get to a critical injury or fatality?
Major League Baseball is well aware of the situation, and seems to be moving in a positive direction. Timeliness is the concern. With safety as a priority, new standards for bats should be in place well before next season. In the event that something isn’t done to correct splintering bats before next season, I have concocted a Plan B: Hit By Batter (HBB).
When a batter loses grip of his bat or the bat breaks and then hits a defensive player, on that defensive player’s next at bat (or his position in the batting order), he will be awarded first base. This is Hit By Batter (HBB). This award of first base, like Hit By Pitch (HBP), will not be an official at bat. However, it will be different in one regard, the batter will have an option:
- Being awarded first base with no at bat
- Accepting an official at-bat
If he accepts the HBB, he reports to the home plate umpire and is directed to first. Players on base would advance one base if forced, as if the batter had been walked. If a batter wishes to accept a plate appearance and risk an out– and this would depend on game situation– he will inform the umpire and immediately step in the batter’s box.
With the implementation of HBB, a team would be less likely to support the use of a bat made of material more likely to shatter/break.
If a lost/broken bat incident is somehow determined to be intentional by Major League Baseball, a suspension would be strongly considered.
On the other hand, if the defensive player makes no move to avoid a tumbling bat, the defensive player’s next at bat (or his place in the batting order) could be ruled an out in advance by the umpiring crew.
Only baseball could consider such an unlikely event as reason to establish a new rule.
But a new rule, Plan A, is needed.
A thorough, updated investigation by Major League Baseball to determine the exact types of bats causing the most problem has been warranted for several years. We’re discussing player safety.
In two-year-old data, it was noted that maple bats were used by more than half of the players in MLB.
As baseball has added rules requiring batting helmets, an updated safety standard on the wood in bats is overdue.
Email Gerry Garte at email@example.com