Results tagged ‘ MLB ’
I have been thinking ever since January how I can improve my social footprint not only within my MLBlogs.com community, but within the overall baseball nation. Sure I’ve devised wacky and far out thoughts about eliminating some facets of my writing, but in the end maybe the thought of expansion is the right direction for me to move now.
So it is with great thought and heavy heart that I begin my travels away from Tropicana Field and embark on a journey that will take me more into a MLB-wide focus instead of just pinpointing my posts and thoughts towards the Rays Republic. It is a hard decision, but one that will hopefully be fruitful and show results not only in increased readership but a more pronounced Renegade presence around the Nation. As you can already see, I have pulled the Rays from my moniker to be more reader friendly to all 30 MLB fan bases.
This is not being done since I feel any animosity or breaking of my Rays ties, it is just a professional decision made by myself to promote my brand and bring a larger focus audience and presence around the baseball web. I love my Rays roots and will still report on them, but only one a month as I am going to try and encompass all 30 MLB team’s in my monthly circle around the country with the Rays being one of my many organizational posts. I decided to use the ESPN MLB Power Rankings as my guide to who will be the first team I write a post about on the 1st day of the month and proceed down the list until I write about the 30th team, then start the process all over again.
Sometimes you got to make harsh and irrational changes to produce growth and bring your sense of the whole enchilada to people outside your usual comfort zone. I have been honored to be the top Fan Blog for the last several months and feel this change will also open up avenues and dialogue with fans from all 30 MLB clubs and bring about a more wide spread presence of the Renegade throughout MLB.
Who knows, this could be a great precursor move for me to become a more nationalized writer who can adapt and bring about opinions, solution and even changes within the MLB culture through my posts about all of the entire MLB Nation. I am also starting a job that will take me all over the country at different ballparks and stadiums where I will take photos and interesting stadium iconic images that I can use in both my Flickr page, plus post on here whenever possible to show the diverse and interesting culture that is Major League Baseball and it’s fans.
I will start my 30 MLB clubs posts beginning April 2nd embarking on finding one significant piece of each club’s 2013 puzzle and write about it to see if this process can be fruitful and successful. The first post will be about the current ESPN top MLB club, the Washington Nationals as I bring about my views on just how far I feel the Nats pitching staff can take this team, and if it ends before October, or they are celebrating come November.
Look forward to your comments, suggestions and any views or thoughts you have about these changes and more that will come about during Major League Baseball’s 2013 campaign.
Oh, and by the way……..YAD S’LOOF LIRPA YPPAH !AY TOG(Using a mirror to view this message is optional)
When I was a small child I saw those words emblazoned on a Los Angeles Police Department car in the popular TV show ”Adam-12“. It took a handful of years for me to personally experience and learn how important and honorable those words really are, and know the courage and bravery needed to ascend to that plateau of serving and defending the liberties we have been granted by generations of fighting souls.
On this day of memorial and remembrance, I want to honor those who have given of themselves for the freedoms that all of us at one time or another have mistakenly taken for granted. We have all at a moment of lapse forgotten the sacrifices, perils and constant danger that lurks outside our democratic comfort zone. I owe a huge debt of gratitude and heartfelt ”Thank You” to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice so I can enjoy the life I have in this country. On this Memorial Day I feel a moral imperative to pay extreme homage to those who have also played this beautiful game of baseball, plus interrupted their careers to answer the call from their nation to serve with honor and dignity.
Instead of talking about The Tampa Bay Rays, or even Major League Baseball today, I want to salute 2 Baseball Hall of Fame members who answered the call of duty to serve in our military ,and unselfishly sacrificed pieces of their professional careers for our freedoms today. I want to honor them for their commitment to this great country and hope that we all remember them today along with the many other brave men and women who should be saluted daily for their courage and heroic deeds in defending our freedoms.
It has been said that over 4,500 players swapped their baseball uniforms for the assorted colors of the United States Military just during World War II. Not all of these brave men were in the Major Leagues at the time, but the entire minor league system in this country saw platoons of men from within the minor league ranks also volunteer and enter the draft during the war. They did not get the fan fare of the high profile MLB players, but their part in the military machine was just as important and vital to the overall success. It has been estimated that at least 125 members of baseball minor leagues gave the ultimate sacrifice during World War II.
We all know some of the hallowed names associated within the game with military ties like Ted Williams, Hank Greenberg,Joe DiMaggio and former Phillies Manager Danny Ozark. Yes, even Managers, Coaches and Umpires also were among those who joined the ranks of the many military branches to fight during the European and Pacific Theatre campaign. Today I am going to feature 2 of the many who left their cleats and gloves in their lockers and exchanged them for the weapons of war.
I have chosen Navy Chief Specialist Bob Feller and Army First Lieutenant Warren Spahn as my blog subjects. Both of these men have been personal baseball heroes of mine while growing up and I felt it was only right on this day of remembering the sacrifices and losses of so many brave souls to include these 2 baseball greats who gave up time willingly during the formative years of their brilliant baseball careers to fight along side people like my father and his three brothers.
There currently are over 33 inducted members of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York who served during World War II. Memorable players like Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Luke Appling, Larry Doby, Bobby Doerr, Monte Irvin, Ralph Kiner, Johnny Mize, Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, Robin Roberts, Enos Slaughter, Duke Snider,and Ted Williams. Many of the top tier players of that era of the game served during World War II.
Navy Chief Specialist Bob Feller
On December 8,1941, the day after the Japanese unprovoked attack on the fleet of Navy vessels anchored in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Cleveland Indians fireballer Bob Feller enlisted in the United States Navy. He was sworn in by former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Gene Tunney, at the Chicago courthouse.
Feller was first assigned to the Norfolk Naval Training Station in Virginia, as part of Tunney’s physical fitness program, and pitched for the Naval Base’s baseball team.But Feller was not happy. “I wanted to get out of the Tunney program and in to combat,” he told author William B Mead. “So I went to the gunnery school there. And I went on the USS Alabama that fall.”
Feller spent the next 26 months as a Chief Petty Officer assigned to an anti-aircraft gun crew on the USS Alabama (BB-60), a South Dakota-class battleship. “We spent the first six or eight months in the North Atlantic. I was playing softball in Iceland in the spring. We came back in the later part of the summer, and went right through the Panama Canal and over to the South Pacific. We hung around the Fiji islands for a while, and then when we got the fleet assembled, and enough men and equipment to start a successful attack, we hit Kwajalein and the Gilberts and the Marshalls and then across to Truk.”
The USS Alabama returned to the United States in the spring of 1945, and Feller was assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in upper Illinois, where he coached the baseball team and pitched to a 13-2 won-loss record with 130 strike outs in 95 innings. He returned to Major League Baseball in August 1945, and in his Indians debut at home in Cleveland, he beat the Tigers, 4-2, in front 46,477 adoring fans.
In January 1946, Feller set up a 3-week school in Tampa, Florida, to develop the baseball skills of returning veterans – both aspiring ballplayers and those with some organized baseball experience. Men paid for their own transportation to the school as well as room and board, but the instruction by fellow major leaguers was free for the returning veterans. It was seen as a time to reflect on both the future and the past and gave the players a sense of “normal life” again.
Feller spoke about his military service some years later in a segment on of ESPN’s Major League Baseball Magazine. Feller said “I’m very proud of my war record, just like my baseball record. I would never have been able to face anybody and talk about my baseball record if I hadn’t spent time in the service.“ Then again in 2005, he got a chance to chat with people online during a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
One of the many questions he was asked that day online was whether he had any regrets about serving in the war? “No, I don’t,” Feller replied. “During a war like World War II, when we had all those men lose their lives, sports was very insignificant. I have no regrets. The only win I wanted was to win World War II. This country is what it is today because of our victory in that war”.
Army First Lieutenant Warren Spahn
Former pitcher Warren Spahn entered the military service on December 3, 1942 when he reported to Army Camp Chaffee, Arkansas and pitched for the 1850th Service Unit baseball team. He was then sent to Europe in December 1944 with the 1159th Engineer Combat Group’s 276th Engineer Combat Battalion. ” Let me tell you, that was a tough bunch of guys. We had people that were let out of prison to go into the service. So those were the people I went overseas with,” he told the Hearst Press in 1945, “And they were tough and rough and I had to fit that mold.”
Spahn soon found himself in the middle of one of the most intense conflicts of the European Theatre, the Battle of the Bulge. “We were surrounded in the Hertgen Forest and had to fight our ways out of there. Our feet were frozen when we went to sleep, and they were frozen when we woke up. We didn’t have a bath or shower, or even a change of clothes for weeks.”
In March 1945, the 276th were responsible for maintaining the traffic flow across the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, the only remaining bridge to span the Rhine. The bridge was under almost constant attack from the Germans who were desperate to stop the flow of Allied forces into Germany. At the same time they were to build a 140-foot Double Bailey bridge nearby.
On March 16, Spahn was wounded in the foot by bullet shrapnel while working on the Ludendorff. The following day he had just left the Ludendorff when the entire structure collapsed into the river with the loss of more than 30 US Army Corp of Engineer soldiers. The entire 276th unit received the Distinguished Unit Emblem and for their efforts to keep the bridge operating, while under constant enemy fire, Staff Sergeant Spahn received a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and a battlefield commission as a second-lieutenant.
After Germany’s surrender in May 1945, First Lieutenant Spahn pitched for the 115th Engineers Group at their base at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. In a four game stretch, he allowed only one run and nine hits while striking out 73 batters. “Before the war I didn’t have anything that slightly resembled self-confidence,” Spahn told the Associated Press in August 1946. “Then I was tight as a drum and worrying about every pitch. But now I just throw them up without the slightest mental pressure.”
Looking back on his military experience Spahn said, “After what I went though overseas, I never thought of anything I was told to do in baseball as hard work. you get over feeling like that when you spend days on end sleeping in frozen tank tracks in enemy threatened areas. The Army taught me something about
challenges and about what’s important and what isn’t. Everything I tackle in baseball and in life I take as a challenge rather than work.”
It would take almost two decades for Spahn to again dorn a military outfit. But this time it was for a much different reason entirely. He had been asked to be a guest star on the Vic Morrow military show “Combat” as an extra in a scene. So Spahn again put on a military uniform, but this time it was as a German soldier in the television show scene.
I am honored to bring the tale of these 2 great Baseball Hall of Fame inductees’ and ex-soldiers to you on this Memorial Day. I am an ex-United States Army Reservist who stepped on the soil in Kuwait on February 23,1990 as a freshly minted Master Sergeant. Until that day I could not fathom the emotions that would come to a swift head in and around me in a combat situation. With an insurgence of pride and courage both my unit and other advancing troops showed such moxy and bravery during that initial first thrust into this occupied country that makes me still stand so proud today.
On this Memorial Day 2011, I personally salute every man, woman and civilian who has served for their bravery and courage to defend our rights with honor. For so many of the players of this grand game I love so much to also answer that same call to duty only makes this salute more personal to me. Until I served, I really did not understand the emotional tie that binds those who serve, and now can relate and admire the feelings and the emotions of my father who served bravely in the South Pacific.
Until I put on my uniform I might have been one of those people who had taken my freedoms a bit lightly. But now, after seeing the sacrfices of others, and knowing the true spectacle of battle and its after effects, I stand tall and proud and pray for everyone currently stationed both in harm’s way and in safe harbor for their efforts to preserving those rights for all of us today. I am no longer eligible to serve, but if they ever changed those age limitation or need a call to arms, I would be there in a heartbeat once again.
Bring on the PINK. This is the time of
the year that brings out a bevy of colorful uniform options from the
special pink shipment of game bats, color schemes among batting
gloves, cleats and even wristbands, plus that symbolic pink ribbon
among every uniform, even the Umpires on this day.
Mother’s Day, the day we celebrate the
person who nurtured us, supported and cheered for us in our early
life sports adventures. Where we pay homage to the woman who kissed
and put Neosporin on our many sports boo-boos. Sure flowers,
breakfast in bed and even a special dinner is in order, but Major
League Baseball should also be on the plate for today’s festivities.
Not just because of the pink-themed
uniform choices, or even the discounts and specials for those special
women in our lives, but to celebrate those who also took on the
monster of cancer and are here surviving and thriving every day.
Among those on the sidelines today will
be numerous survivors’ of breast cancer who will serve at every Major
League Baseball game today as Honorary Bat Girls. Today is also about
those special women who took on the seemingly endless battle of an
illness that claims so many.
Today is about those who have
triumphed, pushed through and made the sacrifices that gave them back
their lives. The Rays will celebrate this great achievement on
Sunday, May 15th against this same Oriole’s squad when the
team again meet at Tropicana Field.
Among those on the sidelines that day
will be 35-year old Bradenton, Florida resident Shari Elliott who
took on the personal challenge of deciding to “live with cancer
instead of thinking of dying of cancer.”
Elliott is an active volunteer in the
Tampa Bay region at numerous breast cancer awareness events and
personally helps other women who have recently been diagnosed with
the disease cope with the news. During the May 15th
contest, Elliott will throw out the ceremonial First Pitch.
The Rays have also donated 200 tickets
to the game to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and cancer survivors
and volunteers will be handing out pink ribbons symbolic of the
cancer awareness program. Rays and Orioles players will again adorn
their pink-themed gear as a show of faith and support for those who
helped give us life.
I lost both my adopted and birth
Mothers’ to this horrendous illness and applaud and feel proud for
those who have battled and seen positive results for their efforts
and commend those who strive for a cure. Hopefully like so many
deadly illnesses in our human past, this one too will have a cure in
Even though the Rays are not home today
(May 8th), the chance to bring it to life again on May
15th when the Rays are again at home. In the last 3
years, nearly 4,000 testimonials and 6 million votes have been cast
supporting this great event Elliott is one of 30 “winners”
selected for each of the 30 MLB clubs to participate in this great
Elliott was among 1.500 entrants that
were selected from more than half a million fan votes on
From specially made pink bats furnished with the MLB breast cancer
awareness logo, it is a visual sign to the support MLB has for this
So let’s hope the balls flies out of
stadiums at a record pace today, and next Sunday as MLB and its fans
celebrate and remember those who took the fight to this disease, and
those who battled gallantly to the end. I think the best way to end
this post today is with a special quote…from the heart.
“A Mother is the truest friend we
have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us;when adversity takes
the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our
sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she
cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to
dissipate the clouds of darkness and cause peace to return to our
hearts.” — Washington Irving.
Maybe it is time. Maybe we are at a pivotal point in our gallant sports consciousness that we can finally take a firm first step in this journey. Make that initial swing towards the process of immortalizing this one special day ever year….. forever.
Maybe this is the perfect time to get a few important political allies in line to push for possible binding legal legislation to make Major League Baseball’s Opening Day a Nationally recognized holiday.
I know a majority of us already use it as a stealth day of fun, even possibly at the expense of taking a sick day or calling into work with excuses with gapping holes like Swiss cheese. Maybe by making it an “official” day we can come out of the closet and profess our baseball love to the world without riddicule or penalty. Viva la Beisbol!
Is the want to make this day a more than just a symbolic holiday lost on the fact most of us take measures already to cease production, fake sickness or family matter to rush to the ballpark to see that first glorious pitch of the season in person. If it was a defined day on our yearly calendar, then possibly Human Resources Departments or Sales team could coordinate group outings to the ballpark in support of this great day. More fans celebrating this day means more excitement, more revenues, and more special memories
With a key allie of the game currently residing in the White House right now, who shares in our love/hate relationship with the game of our youth, possibly now is the perfect time to consider such an sports-oriented endeavor. Not only does our President, our Commander-in-Chief boldly salute his own deeply-rooted White Sox love, but his yearly invitation to meet the eventual World Champions is a symbol that the highest office in the land has a genuine sense of ultimate baseball respectability.
Now if we can just corral a minimum of 26 United States Senators who also possess the same passion and admiration for the game, we will be well on the way to securing historic legislation. As Jane Aubrey (Kelly Preston) so adamently screamed in “For The Love of the Game” when Billy Chapel (Kevin Coster) was lying on an ER gurney after cutting his pitching hand profusely, “Is baseball not America’s game!”.
Congress needs to acknowledge officially that the American image is firmly planted with roots on the clay and grass baseball field of this Nation, not just subject to apple pie, hot dogs and Chevrolet.
As a baseball community and as a Nation, we should embrace the active thought of a celebrated day solely devoted to “America’s favorite pastime” A sport that doesn’t discriminate on ability, sex, race or even physical limitations. From T-ball, Miracle Leagues all the way to “The Show”, the escalation of the game only breeds warmth and admiration along with the true essence of the American spirit.
We could then outwardly celebrate on this day and support a game that has taught so many of us the rules of teamwork and of binding and bonding together for a common goal. We could celebrate our finest youthful moments again on a yearly basis with a sea of new baseball friends.
Baseball already brings out their own brand of ceremonial pomp and circumstance on this day, but why not include the rest of the sports nation into the fold for a National celebratory moment.
Sure there is still NBA and NHL games on tap, but the first week of April is about the bat and the ball. Of a Spring season of change and possibilities closing with the anticipation of 162 games played between defined chalk lines on pristine grass and immaculately turned clay infields. A game fought with distinctive individual skills, But defined within the team concept. A perfect storm of sports competition.
It deserves a day all its own, red lettered and circled on every calendar in this Country.
For this country to celebrate a day dedicated to the sport we know has a long and historic alliance with the United States both at home and abroad, it is a testament to aspect of fair competition and the essence of the American dream. Sure it may be a child’s game played by adults making a boatload of cash, but the childlike expressions on the faces of the players show daily it is not only about the competition, the pride and the admiration of this simple but complex game of chance.
Starting tomorrow maybe we can all collectively voice our opinions on possibly immortalizing forever as a country, baseball’s Opening Day. The time is right for such a couragious venture. We have a President who adores the game. Members of the United States Congress who have either played the game as children, young adults or at the MLB level.
Ground level support is definitely there for all of us to individually and as a Nation showcase our own passion and respect we have for this game that celebrates strength, integrity and unity on the field. Be it Major League Baseball, minor league affiliate or even Independent Baseball, this glorious day should have the added spice of being officially announcing our continous love for this game to the World.
The game has been exported around the World with leagues springing up during every imaginable season of the year devoted to this great game. It is time now to give a big chuck back to the game by getting it the recognition it should have had previously.
We have the chance now with a President who flaunts his long distance alligence, even wearing his South Side Chicago squad’s colors at his current Washington DC address. In President Obama we have a firm example of loving the game from afar, keeping tradition strong no matter the miles or trails and tribulations, of supporting your “hometown” team openly and proudly, even in a polarizing town like Washington.
No matter if you are in the Northeast,Florida, Pacific Northwest or SoCal the passion for your team travels with you and you are open to express that love, even in enemy territory like a Yankee fan in Boston, or a Dodger fan expressing their love in San Francisco. The game transpires all kind of boundaries and deserves a day all its own.
Aubrey was right when she shouted that in “For The Love of the Game“. Baseball is America’s game and now it is time to put it firmly up on it’s pedestal where it belongs, as a National Treasure.
I was pleasantly intrigued. extremely excited, and definitely interested when I got a friendly nudge from a few MLBlogs.com friends telling me I should apply for the MLB Dream Job position.
I gazed for what seemed like an eternity at the MLB.com page outlining the responsibilites and qualifications for this hallowed MLB position. Even the red boldfaced type headline prompting me to ”Live Every Baseball Fan’s Dream Job” just kept my heart skipping and palpitating like Ricky Ricardo playing those Babalooon bongo drums.
This was the type of job within MLB hierarchy I had daydreamed about countless times in my 20′s usually while sitting at the copy clerk desk writing game summaries and doing proofreading duties for my human interest sports articles. But this 2011 MLB position had an exciting and grand social media twist. Certainly the technology aspects of the posts is not a roadblock for me.
I love trying to find 140-characters to describe or even condense an emotion or action. I instantly knew that I had to apply as soon as possible for the position I was born to hold. To say I was anxious when I began to input my information onto the MLB application would be an understatement.
This is definitely the type of job I would have gone solo into the Octagon, even against Chuck Norris and fought to the death in my 20′s. Heck possibly in my 30′s. The aspect of watching MLB games today has evolved into an alternative life form since my first taste of baseball back in the mid-60′s, but that evolution of technology only makes me salivate more, and want this position.
The almost surreal aspect that I could take into my blue eyes a possible 2,430 individual games, then gleefully dissect them into precious moments, then tell the baseball World about it blows even my vivid imagination. Even the first section on “Qualifications” just seemed like it was tailored to have someone like me jumping for joy at the opportunity. Let’s see if I can qualify for the position first:
* Strong writing skills
This one depends on who you ask, but I think I have some mad skills at times, plus I already have a blog reader base (thanks to the MLBlogs.com community & the Rays Republic). Ranking consistently in the Top 10 on the “Latest Leader List” has to be a cherry on top.
* Strong verbal communication skills
I think I can articulate and talk with the best of them, but I am not that “stat” driven baseball guy. Sure I like the quirky side notes and interesting factoids about MLB players or teams, but I can talk you ear off.
* Strong Organizational skills with the ability to give attention to multiple things at the same time
You kidding! I pride myself on having Media Guides, hand-outs and even a few personal tidbits at my side at the ready. Multi-tasking…when was the last time you saw someone outside the Press Box in the stands writing during a game and actually cheering…Check mark!
* Must be a baseball expert.
Here is a grey area. I have a good knowledge of the history and rules of the game, but I learn something new every day about baseball. I feel having an open mind or a varitable sponge at the ready makes me a stronger fan. I go into games and situations with a open objective. That translates into a more positive results, and a fresh pair of eyes. I actually think being a baseball expert limits you ability to adjust and flex your mind.
* Must be comfortable in front of the camera and be able to present a positive public image.
Well, I have been in photos, and videos for the Rays in the past, including a speaking role in “Braveknobs”. I have more of a face for radio, but I am all for the camera….Bring it on!
* Must have a witty and creative personality.
You are talking to the Rays fan who wants to print up “Garfoose Crossing” signs for the regular season. I love coming up with small interesting ideas or even venturing into small projects that tend to show my diverse range of story directions. I like to write myposts once,proofread them, then post.
* Must complete a background check to the satisfaction of MLB.
I have not even gotten a speeding ticket since 1999. Not saying I am as clean as Mr. Cleans white T-shirt, but there should not be anything in my past that would pop a huge red “X” upon my character…allegedly.
From there the position goes into specification of having to live within the Big Apple for the entire MLB season. Now even though I love my Rays within an inch of my own existence, a job like this only comes around once in a lifetime. I guess if selected I can have some sort of optimistic “Empire State of Mind”, but I will gaze upon the Rays from afar nightly ( I promise).
Who in their right baseball state of mind would not jump at the chance to see all MLB regular and postseason contests either by video or in person….No one! That bit in that paragraph about “must be present” at the games, if I had the MLB Dream Job position, stadium security might be the only ones keeping me away from a game. But then I always have MLB.TV if that happens (lol).
I would be as giddy as a school girl if I had the credentials and ability to cover, ask questions or even be a part of any press conference, media event. Imagine evn getting a opportunity to possibly sit on the grass at the 2011 All Star Game during the State Farm Home Run Derby and listen for that crack sound of the ball speeding off the bat from field level…Can you say once in a lifetime.
There is this funny sentence that states I “must share thoughts regarding games and topics of MLB interest via daily blogging, vlogging and through social media platforms. Do they know me? I am a budding social butterfly of the social networks. I currently post every day on MLBlogs.com, plus just past a huge plateau (1,000th post and 500,00 page views). Social media will not be a hindrance in any way. Heck, this position is a huge platform to get my overall baseball views out there. Count me in an that with a vengeance.
I think my writing has transformed a lot during my time at MLBlogs.com. I love to write about charity events, concerts and even the special little things that happen out of the usual fan’s eyesight. These thing intrigue me, and even if I am not selected, my style will not cease.
I enjoy my little patch within the MLB World, but sometimes you have to try and spread your wings and see if you can fly. Expanding my views, location and possibly my mind is an exhilarating thought, and one I would be eager to engage. Change is what keeps us out of the muck and mud of a stagnant existence.
I submitted a 500-word essay that started off with a personal experience that set my own MLB lifestyle in motion. It was about how as a young Little Leaguer I was playing the hot corner in a game and a ball hit a rock, clay, or maybe a boulder in front of me and the speeding ball took an extreme bad hop up into the bridge of my nose.
My Coach wanted me to come out of the game since blood was trickling down both of my cheeks, but I screamed at the top of my little lungs, “Brooks Robinson wouldn’t come out, neither am I!” That is the basis behind my MLB Dream Job application. You only get one shot at this life, and if you balk, take a step back or falter for a moment….something gets by you and it is lost forever.
Maybe that is why I yearn for a chance at this position. I gave up my journalistic dream because of a family situation and I am reminded of it every day. But I found the strength again to write, to give my opinion, to seek out the unknown and known facts of the game to educate, entertain and hopefully inform people.
The act of competition can be a great motivator and a great equalizer. Hopefully MLB seethe strength, committment and stamina I have not only for writing, but in life itself to give me a shot at this position. Hopefully one day I will be posting from the MLB office in NYC telling you about my wild first day.
If not you can be sure I will be reading your first day’s adventures at the MLB Dream Job. Either way, I will comment, and live vicariously through your muses and writs during that entire year…You can count on it!
From the Desk of Rays Renegade
January 4, 2011
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig,
I am writing you today to give you some of my MLB fan-based opinions. Hopefully with a few well placed facts and a emotional incentive to possibly charge forward in changing this distrubing “Third World” trend of actions.
I am sorry to say Mr. Commissioner, I am not writing about PED’s, tomorrow’s Baseball Hall of Fame announcement, or even the implimentation of the dreaded salary cap who’s thought might give you horrid nightmares.
I must address this non-democratic situation that I feel we, as a baseball loving Nation have failed our warm breezed cousins to the South. Maybe because I have lived in this country my entire life I am a bit naive to the complexity of the Hispanic community to the South of Florida. But I still think change is needed Mr. Commissioner.
It seem that the actions of few corrupt entities within the Southern Hemisphere Hispanic power gird have impoverished so many young ballplayers in the Tropical belt of the Caribbean and South America that want to play professional baseball. It is a land where a single soul can command the intentions and the dreams of hundreds that love to play our national past time, and they just treat them as if they were hired help.
The fact that a single buscone or ” finder” can manipulate the potential fiscal rewards to a player and circumvent needed revenues to become instant millionaires by preying and praying on the sweat and blood of young boys yearning to fulfill their baseball dreams of becoming the “next” Roberto Clemente, or David Ortiz. How can the United States of America, one of the biggest and baddest countries on the face of this earth just simply stand back and let a stable of Third World bullies decree which players get a chance, and which are destined to a life of poverty.
Mr. Commissioner, you can become that one authority figure who can bring about change and finally remove the tyranny of the buscones or “finders” forever. You could make another footnote to your MLB legacy that you, Bud Selig as MLB Commissioners helped to first formulate rules, regulations and possibly even establish an outside the United States MLB First Years Player Draft system that would provide players outside the confines of the current system a chance to be recognized and rewarded for their years of hard work.
I am not asking for this in 2011, or even within the next 3 years. I know that you will need the backing of one of the most powerful men in baseball with you. That is why I am also sending a letter to Michael Weiner the current President of the Major League Baseball Players Association asking that both administrative branches of this great sports combine energies to promote, provide and institute future avenues for players outside this country to be treated the same as the North American born players we acquire via our current MLB First Year Player Draft system.
With both the MLB and MLBPA set to begin discussing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in the Winter of 2011, this could be a essential sidebar issue that can get more extended revenues within the MLB coffers, plus establish more jobs and positions within that region’s realm of the game. Could be a plus, plus for both side of the CBA coin.
I know that even a preliminary discussion will consuming hours of dialogue, mountains of correspondence, and endless phone calls, but isn’t the overall health and futurue history of our game worth that sweat and struggles?
The game has evolved so much on the field in the last 25 years, shouldn’t our focus now be on the souls left behind by this progress..Think about it Mr. Commissioner, you can be the savior of millions of future Hispanic baseball players that will be discovered in MLB-sanctioned Baseball Academys set up in the early 2000′s by our favorite MLB teams with the intent to discover new talent, and permanently plug ourselves into a new talent stream.
We saw the first two players from India signed two years ago, and a petite Japanese woman knuckleball pitcher signed to a minor league contracts just last season. Why not give future rising stars in this new World “hot bed of talent” a realistic chance to come on board with respected representation, and loose the stress of wondering if documentation, or even money has changed hands before a single signature is committe to paper.
Can you honestly say Commissioner Selig that you have not felt the disgust and embarrassment of the past few years when countless players are found to be illegally obtained by doctored birth certificates, name changes, or simple taking another person’s name for the sake of the game’s paychecks and prestige.
I know that sports agents have been called the leeches of the modern athlete, but they do not suck dry the blood of their clients the way some of these diabolical buscones or even “family” advisers do in parts of the unmanaged MLB world order. Every year more players come clean about the falsifications of their pasts, and we just slap their hands and let them fall back into line.
By expelling the human parasites that prey on these players and their families we are ridding society of a deceptive epidemic that needs to be exterminated, eradicated and made extinct. Mr. Commissioner, you can be the man that will be held up in the future as the “man who brought baseball and the world together through equality”.
That would be a humanitarian MLB legacy that would transcend anything else you have done as Commissioner of Baseball.
You could be remembered in the town of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic as the man who made fair and equal laws for everyone to play this great game. Major League Baseball has been diligent in the past trying to erase these evils and bring honesty back to these regions.
When MLB established a MLB-sanctioned home base in the Dominican to combat these false records and documentations, somehow players still funneled into the country and were exposed later. Underage players were found out and returned to their countries if they had not at least reached the age of 17. Can you imagine spending even a month in a country like the U S after living in lesser condition in your home country.
Commissioner Selig, you can be the man who can stand proud at the forefront of this revolution to show that we are through with the lies and deceptions, that truth should be the common language, and that players should be rewarded for their talents, not placed like meat in a glass showcase and sold to the highest dolla.
In closing Commissioner Selig, I ask of you that we finally end this tyranny of the few that prey on the weak and poor who only want to play baseball. By establishing at least a dialogue to begin constructing a World Amateur Draft, we can show the entire world that baseball can overcome more than just money and power, but can improve lives and establish fair play beyond just the baseball diamond.
I know I am only one soul writing to you, but sometimes a single voice in the dark can lead you into the light. If we are to keep moving forward as a sport, we have to take other sports lead on the outside countries rights to fairness and equality.
The best way to show that is to point to the NBA, which drafts players from around the world. If you really want to leave this sport in a manner that future generations will remember your name, then by taking on the equality of the Tropics in regards to baseball related matters might be a giant step for your own immortality.
Thank you again Commissioner Selig for your time. I hope to again shake you hand at the Spring Training Grand Slam Dinner again at Tropicana Field in 2011. I am just someone who loves this sport, and only wants to see it grow into a world wide phenomenon.
cc: United States President Barack Obama, Matt Silverman, Presdient of the Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Club, Michael Weiner, Executive Director of the MLBPA.
The city of Orlando has always been an optimistic little borough centralized . If you mentioned the city’s name to most people, it would quickly entertain visits to Disney World or Universal Studios, and it might even bring back memories of watching spacecraft launch off the Space Coast headed for the Stars. For a long time it was considered one of those ” cities on the cusp” of becoming a striving metropolis.
Right now however it is the epicenter of the Winter first folly for Major League Baseball as the league’s 30 General Manager and higher echelons filter into this Mickey Mouse town not to see the new sparkling Amway Center for a Orlando Magic game, but hopefully to part with a few MLB souvenirs of their own before packing and leaving.
Within the hustle and bustle of all this activity surrounding the possibilities and envisioned movements for 2011 is a want by this once sleepy little town to again be considered “on the edge and hip”. Once again this town wants to have professional baseball within its city limits, and the team it is pursuing might surprise you. The city now boasts only Spring Training baseball out at the Walt Disney World of Sports complex when the Houston Astros come into play from late February to the end of March.
For a long time, this region had a team to call their own before the Tampa Bay Rays decided to move their Double-A affiliation to Montgomery, Alabama and left the city bare of any minor league baseball. But all that could soon change if Armando Gutierrez Jr. has his way. The former 8th district United States Senate candidate feels so passionate about this endeavor he withdrew his name from his Senate race and pushed his loyalties and political clout towards again eating popcorn and Cracker Jacks at a future Orlando baseball game.
When the group first announced its intentions to find a professional baseball partner for the city, some mused that the city might be trying to entice and influence the Rays ownership to have team possibly migrate along the I-4 corridor from the west coast of Florida to O-town. But that illusion was quickly eliminated from the formula as the Rays did not seek such a drastic change of local, but only wanted to expand their team presence towards Orlando by providing more exposure through out-of-town television and radio broadcasts to the Orlando and it massive suburbs.
And Gutierrez had the right bait on his fishing pole to try and seduce the Rays ownership as one of his key points to his sought after goal of bringing professional baseball back to Orlando would be to build a state of the art baseball facility and a baseball museum. Both actually played well into the Rays foreseeable future want and need for a new stadium, and with the Rays also currently housing the Ted Williams Hitters Museum within the bowels of Tropicana Field, it might have been a perfect “two birds in the bush” analogy for Gutierrez.
Gutierrez however is not focusing on the Rays. He has a bigger fish in his sights and after meeting with some interesting possible investors while on his U S Senate campaign, Gutierrez has set his sight on another classic minor league team that would bring both local and out of town fans by seducing them with the attractions of baseball and the other surrounding family activities that could be enjoyed during the Spring and Summer months in sunny Florida.
Orlando Yankees proposed Stadium photo
But you have to take this teasing with a grain of salt. How hard do you think the city of Tampa will fight any movement or even relocation of the Yankee Spring Training complex and Class-A squad after the city sunk in so much financial resources, initially posting bonds to provide for the massive upgrade and changes to George Steinbrenner Field and the surrounding area.
This is not to say Gutierrez is putting all his baseball in one bucket, but he is definitely swinging hard for the fences in trying to relocate an iconic baseball affiliate from a well-known locale that treasures the Yankee legacy and fan following like a pilgrimage each Spring. If Gutierrez and his crew can get such a franchise, the Orlando region instantly lights up as a possible relocation sight for a future MLB franchise.
This is not to push the aspect of MLB putting a franchise right into the lap of O-town, but with the backing of such industry giants as Disney and Universal Studios, it would be insane for MLB’s top tier to not at least research and entertain a possibility. Put the added essence of the Rays saying the right words right now in public, but not on paper about their continued involvement in the Tampa Bay region, and you get a small state of flux within the heart of the state right now.
I actually commend Gutierrez and his enthusiastic crew for�their brash and candid decision to thrust it all into the fire here and go for an iconic minor league affiliate that would instantly bring attention to his city and their efforts to again have baseball within its city limits. Back in the early 2000′s, I used to attend a few Orlando DevilRays game when the big team was out of town on road trips. It is a great community with all the hustle and bustle of a thriving metropolis intertwined with the charm and romance of Southern baseball traditions.
It take a lot of courage and conviction for a man to withdraw his name from an election towards securing a prestigious post like a seat in the U S Senate. But sometimes the passion and enticement of the game can be more alluring than a trio of sirens upon the rocks. Gutierrez and his group are firmly committed to standing at the plate and taking whatever baseball throws at them. Not sure how this will all turn out in the end, but Gutierrez sounds like one of those guys who will not stand there and take a third called strike. I think he will find his team soon and the goal will slowly unfold again to have Baseball back in O-town.
This is the last part of a 3 part series on the current maple bat controversy. I have decided that tomorrow, 1/23/2009, I am going to profile two of the current inventors who have decided that have viable alternatives to today’s bats. Both have promoted safety and reliability of the bats, even at an affordable price for MLB teams and players. Hopefully in late 2009, we will no longer have to address this kind of matter and we can all feel safe and secure, even in the front rows at our favorite ball parks around America.
There is nothing quite like the breaking of a bat during a baseball game. the sound of the wood splintering after the perfect pitch blended with the sight of the hitter holding the remnants of his destroyed weapon make for a thrilling sight for baseball fans. Lately however, broken bats have been anything but amusing and colorful. Bats are no longer just breaking; they are exploding and sending fragments everywhere and not concerned about damages or injuries to others.
Today’s bats are not breaking cleanly, or even staying together at the barrel, but hurdling shattered remains in all directions without regard for safety. And the one thing that has been constant in all of these matter of shattering shards being propelled at spectators, players and even MLB officials, is that they have not yet become lethal.The culprit is plain and simple to baseball officials. The maple bat has brought upon the major league baseball diamonds a new fear and a constant reminder of safety issues that need to be addressed before a critical injury takes a life on the field, or in the grandstands.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is aware and concerned about the matter. In this 3rd installment on the maple bat controversy, I will be addressing the MLB leadership moves so far to curtail further damage. I will also inform you of two inventors who believe they have a solution to the epidemic that is plaguing the bat world. Hopefully this series has enlightened a few people to the real dangers and the consequences of turning away from this issue. At stake is maybe a life, or a permanent injury to a fan or player that could have been avoided if action was taken swift and forceful beginning in the Spring of 2009.
Some people have asked me how the MLB could let such an issue proliferate? Well, for starters, the collective bargaining agreement between the players union and the baseball owners makes it difficult for baseball, like a large tractor-trailer, to make swift and sharp turns. In 2006 labor negotiations, the owners did ask the players union for permission to change the official bat specifications over the concern for the maple bats, but the players opposed those specifications.
Currently baseballs approved bats can have a barrel no larger than 2 3/4 inches, with handles no thinner than 16/19th of an inch diameter, and a total length of no more than 42 inches.In comparisons, the bat that Babe Ruth used in 1927 was a 35-inch bat with a weight of 40-ounces. The funny part is that Ruth, the father of power hitting, did not need such as weight or mass in his bat. Because the bat already has so much more mass than the ball, bat speed ( velocity ) is much more significant than the mass.
Selig decided that he needed to get the collection of varied opinions together from both the owners and the players union and commissioned the MLB Health and Safety committee to address this situation on June 24, 2008. The 16-member panel convened in New York to discuss what steps could be taken to either eliminate or curb the problem. The committee consists of 8 members of the players association, and 8 members of the MLB management. They discussed the issue of the maple bats during their meeting. They went over the facts that maple bats show a surface hardness of 20 percent over the typical ash bat, and spent the bulk of the meeting going over the specifications currently on the MLB books concerning the bat’s handles, weights, thickness and overall durability.
Before this meeting ever began, MLB had been investigating the maple bat situation by gathering from all 30 teams the remnants of all broken bats over the course of at least 6 weeks to try and give more evidence to the committee about the bat controversy. The maple bat balancing act that the committee was trying to foster would have to satisfy not just the owners, but also the players. What ended up coming out of the June meeting was that MLB needed to do more experiments on the bats, and also consult with bat manufacturers and seethe formulation of the individual bat from billet to completed model.
The committee knew that in light of the situation that an agreement of overall opinions during this first meeting would be unheard of considering they needed to satisfy all parties with their recommendations. They also knew that the players would veto any action that would of boycotted the use of the maple bats. An idea of extending the protective netting might help the fans, but still players would be at risk having to stand within 150 feet of the batters box, with no protection. And the idea of having one bat inspector who would monitor and approve bats before delivery would be costly and not very effective because of bats already out in the MLB system could be used without officials noticing before their breakage.
One bright light did come out of the meeting, the members agreed upon an idea to increase the bat’s dimensions. Be it a larger bat handle larger than 16/19th of an inch, or a smaller weight-to-length ratio ( 34 inch bat would weigh 30.5 ounces ). Another option brought up was a smaller barrel ( 2 3/4 inches ) would actually chafe a few players because of a change in the bats hitting surface. That would give hitters less bat space to hit and would require them to re-define their swings accordingly.
For now, MLB is sending its samples to Jim Sherwood, who runs the Baseball Research Center at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and conducted a test in 2005 that showed maple provides no greater performance off the bat than ash but does break differently, snapping instead of cracking. MLB did institute new bat rules in December 2008, and the news was not met well by current bat manufacturers who feel their bottom line will be affected by the new regulations.
This regulation is viewed by the bat manufacturers as a costly addition to current bat production because of the change in the location of the bat manufacturer’s stamp on the bat. It will take a retooling of the lathes and machinery used to burn the logo into the bats and the desired location for the MLB’s new stamp would hinder sales and recognition of the product. Starting in 2009, all bats are mandated to have the bat company’s stamp on the edge grain and no longer on the face grain of the bat. Stamps were to be located on the face grain ever since they were invented, and it has been a common practice to teach players to use the bat with the label facing towards them in order to hit the ball 90 degrees from the label.
Extensive testing from MLB during a six-month-long study of maple bats showed hitting on the wood’s face grain would bring about fewer breaks than the edge grain. Baseball hired the Forest Products Laboratory, a government entity, along with Harvard statistician Carl Morris, and wood-certification company TECO to analyze more than 2,200 bats broken in MLB games between July 2 and Sept. 7 2008. Their primary task was to figure out why the bats are breaking and make suggestions to limit future breaks before a serious or mortal injury. Their scientific conclusion was that the former conventional wisdom that discouraged face-grain contact was actually wrong.
The teams’ research and testing found that the large percentage of shard inducing breaks, or ones in which barrels with splintered ends go airborne like medieval weaponry were actually due to a poor “slope of grain” on the wood itself. The best quality of wood to use for baseball bats have an even grain, and some manufacturers were using low-quality wood with large barrels and thin handles, leading to increased breakage and bat damages. The other suggestion, about hitting on the face grain, came from Roland Hernandez, a TECO employee.And Hernandez should know a thing or two about the bat manufacturing process having been the owner of a previous bat company, Rockbats, which made maple bats for the MLB. He then began to work at Forest Products Laboratory before finally going to work for TECO. Rockbats was the only company to suggest hitting on the face grain. No MLB player currently uses Rockbats in games.
But another bat manufacturer even went beyond a simple word with the press about this new regulation and sent a memo to every bat company owners and operators, and to the MLB key man in this investigation, Roy Krasik . Romeo Filip wrote a email containing 696 very terse and subjective words to show his distaste for the MLB’s new mandate. He states that the tensile strength of wood runs down its edge grain. Hitting against the grain would produce bats that will snap more violently and towards the center of the field and not down the foul lines.
Filip’s company, Diablo Bats isn’t doing much business right now. He is in a group of about 30 companies that produce some form of a maple bat for the MLB players. He says that the MLB study, that cost around $ 500,000 dollars has doubled the licensing fees required to sell bats to MLB players. Plus the addition of a insurance policy with at least $ 10 million dollars in coverage is now mandated by MLB.
So the MLB studied the regression analysis of bats that had broken on the field in 2008, tested the actual wood, and also compared models and brands to see who’s might be considered a safer alternative to the current bats out on the market. They studied both ash and maple bats to give ample scientific proof for both models without bias or prejudice on the types of bats. This testing did finalize the thinking that with ash bats, players should still hit with the edge grain to prevent shelling or flaking of the bats during the hitting process.
MLB also visited three current bat manufacturers plants to view first-hand the bat making process. They included in this tour the plants of Hillerich & Bradsby, the parent company of Louisville Slugger, and also The Original Maple Bat Corporation, the home of Sam’s Bats. What is unique about Sam’s bat is that their original maple bat was actually a bet made in a bar in 1996 by an old MLB scout, Bill McKenzie to Sam Holman, who dabbled a bit in carpentry and created the bat producing company out of a bar bet.
MLB then released their 50 page study which is not available to the public, and bat manufacturers’ were not content with the scientific merit of the findings. One company posed a question to the MLB Health and Safety committee during a conference call asking if they had conducted testing on bats that weren’t breaking to see why they preformed better than other models. MLB’s answer to this was “No”. They decided not to submit the study to a peer review , figuring that the checks and balances from the large assortment of scientists would be enough variety in opinions and findings. One bat manufacturer has stated that the MLB’s new regulation can be beaten. the current MLB test to find out if a bat has a even grain is to place on ink dot on the bat handle, and if it bleeds more than a quarter of an inch diagonally, the bat will not be certified. He states that by rubbing 250-grit sandpaper over the handle before the test, it closes the pores on the wood and masks its true grain.
The confusion is spiraling all the way down to the players, who know that the new models will arrive before spring training. Bat makers are trying to call the players in advance to let them know about the regulation changes, and why the bats will have a different look to them in 2009. Even if the bat companies now suggest that the players hit with the face grain, the players have adapted their own ways of hitting and might not take to the change at first. But after a period of time they will also have to adjust and find ample ways to combat the new bats and their face grains.
MLB will again meet with the bat manufacturers some time during spring training and discuss the drying process that the bats go through in their bats production. Also under consideration during that meeting will be the shape of the bat and the way it might break under pressure. This is considered the first steps in trying to gain a foothold on the problem. The committee might be more of an evolving group right now considering that more scientific tests and findings are revealed all the time.
Also not revealed to the public would be any penalties or even fines that could be imposed if someone uses an non-certified bat or even hides the fact they are using such bats in their games. This will be an on-going and basically be a feel-in-the-dark period for baseball during Spring Training. Hopefully by the time the player take the field in April, MLB and the players will have adjusted, and the batting controversy will begin to fade into the background with the game again being the lone giant on the field.
The MLB management will continue evolving the batting controversy until it is finally considered totally safe and injuries and bat shards are again a thing of the past. hopefully in 2009, this will be the beginning of a great revolution in the bats used by professional baseball players. And with the changes already starting to take the game to another level, hopefully a death or serious in jury will not propel us into a last second ban or elimination of any type of bat.
This is the 2nd installment of my little blog series on the epidemic of bat breakage in the MLB. If you did not read the first installment, I wrote it on 1/20/2008, and please feel free to check the archive for the blog.
Susan Rhodes is not a usual attendee to a baseball game. But why is it that on May 25, 2008, she was in the wrong place and the wrong time and met the barrel end of a tomahawking bat that shattered more than her jaw that day. She was sitting 4 rows behind the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout, usually a safe place for everything but the occasional foul ball. She ever saw the shard coming towards her, she was instead watching the play develop as the ball headed into the outfield. She suffered a concussion and the force of the bat fractured her jaw in two places.
Broker bats have been commonplace ever since the advent of baseball, but the Rhodes accident along with Rick Hellings impalement and both players and fans injuries have brought a new danger to the game of baseball. Even the men behind the plate, the umpires have not been ruled out as victims in this saga of wood and pressure. So has America;s favorite pastime been invaded by a new dangerous trend, and is the maple bat the sole item responsible for this trend?
Babe Ruth’s hickory bats are long gone and now it seems that the old memory of those heavy and cumbersome pieces of lumber show a simpler time in the era of baseball. It now seems that the obsession with ash bats for the last couple of decades has dwindled and is almost a forgotten bat material to most major leaguers’. Thanks to the popularity of the maple bat during Barry Bond’s run to the home run title more and more players are opting for this potentially lethal bat type. But we are not blaming Bonds for the recent problems, he did not design, test or even manufacture bat for a living, he just used them as a tool for his trade.
Atlanta Braves Manager Bobby Cox got a first hand account of the danger on June 19, 2008. While Cox was sitting in the dugout, like Rhodes, he was watching the ball and did not see second baseman Kelly Johnson’s bat shard coming towards him in the dugout. The bat ended up going above his head, but like Rhodes, he never saw the bat coming his way at any moment before it struck the dugout wall.
On June 24, players like Mariners’ pitcher Aaron Heilman and Royals catcher John Buck were members of a Major League Baseball committee to look into this new danger and try to decide what should be done for the safety of everyone in baseball. Scientists and engineers have also been consulted on the ever growing problem. By using the basics of science, they know the ways that according to MLB standards, a baseball bat should be shaped and hit. And they have studied the way it can react and also break under pressure.
Early in the annuals of baseball, bats also broke, but not at the regularity that they do today. The maple versus ash bat controversy did not exist because neither bat was developed at the time for use by baseball players. As we mentioned before, at the time Babe Ruth was swatting balls into the grandstands, players used hickory bats every time up to the plate. During those days hickory was a common wood and it is still known today as a truly strong wood to use in industry. But though time, batters wanted a lighter, more fluid wood to use for hitting, and the hickory bat became a dinosaur of modern bats.
Even though ash was not as strong as hickory, it did possess that lighter feeling in your hands, and could be sanded down easier to conform the handle to your touch and liking with simple sandpaper. The problem with most wood is that its overall strength can be totally compatible with weight. So if you desire a strong wood to produce your bats, you will get a heavier model because of the weight. And in simple contrast, if you go lighter wood, you get lighter overall weight, but you give up some levels of durability under pressure.
It is said that in the 1990′s, Toronto outfielder Joe Carter might have swung the first maple bat, and his shot to win the World Series for the Blue Jays might have been viewed by opponents as the key to power in that decade. Because he was using a maple bat, players began to look into its cost and usage and began to request them by the dozens. With maple now as an alternative, it was appealing because it showcased more strength without the cumbersome bother of weight . And because of it strength, it quickly got a reputation as the tool that would let you hit farther and longer in games.
Ash had a tendency to produce flakes of ash that came off the bat like snow, but it held together better and did not separate at the barrel end. Because of the flaking, players did not go through bats as often, and that was the main reason they stuck to them for so long. But in 2001, during Bond’s display of power and strength, players became obsessed and craved this new bat type, and quickly put ash bats in the dark recesses of the locker room or garages of the players.
For 50 years, white ash was the preferred wood for baseball bats, but with over 50 percent of all players using maple now, it was a quick and revolutionary change for the game. Maple and ash bats all break a certain way because of their unique characteristics. Ash tends to flake or chip in smaller chunks and do not propel through the air, while maple has a tendency to break into larger jagged shards that are propelled by the stored up energy of the bat. But can the change in breakage patterns be attributed to their cell difference and the size of their pores within the wood.
Scientists agree that the tree pores, which transports moisture inside the trees before they become bats shows that ash has more flexibility to it than maple samples. Ash wood has what is considered a ring porous character. within its grains you will find more avenues and pores that can carry moisture throughout the wood. And of you went into the region of its growth ring, where the grain doesn’t exist, you would see that it is more or less solid fiber.
Because the voids in wood are confined to certain areas, the growth planes are considered a weak area of the wood. When an ash bat hits an object, its cell walls would collapse, and that would produce the chipping and the flaking experienced with ash bats. The barrel would just begin to soften and small flaking pieces would begin to fall off the bat. It makes for a great indicator of the lessen density of the wood and its possibility of breakage and snapping while hitting.
Maple on the other hand is considered ring diffuse, meaning that its pore are more evenly distributed throughout the piece of wood. that makes the bat barrel more durable than any other part of the wood, and you do not get the cautionary flaking or chipping warning that ash bats give you before they break apart while hitting.
Cracks form in both types of wood as a bat is used to hit a ball after ball after ball. But the same pore structure that makes a ash bat flake also produces cracks along the channel of the bat. Meaning that it has a long way to go before a crack can materialize to actually crack a bat in half. And batters can see these cracks beforehand and exchange the bat before the process results in an explosion of the bat upon contact.
I know we have all seen a hitter take the barrel end of the bat and bounce it off the ground or the plate to see if they get vibrations out of the bat that will be a sure sign of it breaking. It was an early warning sign of sorts for the wood to let the batter know it was about to take its last swing, or break apart during the hitting process. That made the ash bat a lot safer and more predictable before danger could happen. But it also could happen multiple times during a game, and the cost of replacing a box of bats might have been the deciding factor in hitters looking for alternatives.
Because of the maple bats diffuse pores, cracks in the wood can grow in any number of directions. This could make them more apt to hide the cracks and breaks as they break out towards the barrel. That is the main reason that maple bats produce such a large chunk or shard when they finally do explode after cracking. And sine they do not flake or ship, they do not ever send a warning sign to the batter that his bat is cracking or might end up in the stands or in the infield barely missing a opposing player.
But a culprit that might go unnoticed even by the hitter is that fact that the wood can take on different characteristics considering how the bat was cut from the wood. A billet of misaligned wood can affect it subjectivity to breakage as well as force upon the wood. A bat is considered stronger when the grain lines up with the length of the bat. Because of its dark nature, this grain is considerably harder to see in maple than in the light tones of the ash bat. Maple also has a tendency to not have as straight a grain as ash, which can be instrumental in fatigue and breakage when used to extremes.
If you do not have a bat that is cut with the grain, you will have a weaker bat. That might not be a scientific phasing for you, but it is a stark reality with baseball bats. But can that be one of the multitude of reasons that a maple bat and explode and send shards throughout the stands or infield. Another factor take take into consideration is the fact that the batter could hit the ball in a bad position and make the bat break upon his swing. Which would have nothing to do with the bats chemistry, or it’s compounds or porous material.
The bat comes into contact with the ball in a small area for only one thousandth of a second in most swings. The short time it takes to make that impact can sends upwards of 5,000 pounds of force through the wood. If you hit the ball badly, or not within the are of the “sweet spot” of the bat, you could get this stinging sensation in your hands. That is a visual sign from the bat that it is bending and vibrating to release the force without breaking in your hands.
If the bending is compacted into enough of an area, it can produce a bat break in any type of bat. The bending of the bat can lead to its breaking usually in ash bats at the point of the least material, which on an ash bat, is its handle. The bat that Todd Helton had in his hand on the day that Susan Rhodes got injured broke at the handle and sent the barrel tomahawking into the stands towards her. This leads to another concern about today’s bats. Could a narrower handle on the bat be a reason for the increase in bats breaking and exploding all over the ballpark.
Over 100 years ago, bat handles were a lot more thicker and more bulky than today’s bats used by every level of baseball. Some say the advent of these small handles is a compliance to metal bats that are used at lower levels before players become professionals. Because the metal bats do not possess a thick, rugged handle players are unaccustomed to hitting with the extra meat on the handle. As time progressed, the handle also went through a series a changes to become more streamlined and comfortable to today’s players.
The narrow handle makes a baseball bat made out of wood more prone to breaking and take away the sturdiness of the bat. To make modern bats more accustom to metal bats, did we make the breakage problem worse, or just provide another avenue for the bats to break upon force. Because of the numerous injuries and episodes during 2008, the issue of the bats has come again into the limelight.
Again, another episode that happened in 2008, was on June 24, in Kansas City, as MLB umpire Brian O’Nora was hit in the head, while wearing his protective gear behind the plate during a game. Think about this for a second. Here is a guy less than 3 feet from the epicenter of the bats explosion who had his protective gear popped off his forehead and sustained a gash upon his forehead.
You do not want to think of the repercussions of him maybe not even having a safety device on and getting clobbered with that bat shard. I would love to have a poll done of MLB catchers to see how many of them have to have trainers or medical personnel during or after the game take out splinters or small sharp wood chips from their equipment or their bodies. I think that kind of poll would not help the bat situation, because most catcher see that as part of the game, like a foul ball getting your fingers or cracking you in the inner thighs.
You have to wonder if engineers and scientists have a good theory on why bats crack and break. I know we see multitudes of bats breaking during games today, but is there any true data outsides of the hands of the MLB that can tell us . We know that the MLB has collected bats from 2008 and have analyzed and categorized their breakage and the bats type of wood. So is there real evidence that we have not seen yet that would show that bats are breaking now at alarming rates compared to the past. And to what extent does the maple bat hold either a advantage or a danger as a bat of choice by the MLB players.
Could there be a variable that since ash bats show their breakage points before breaking fully, that the safety factor of these types of bats provide more protection to hitters and others around the batter’s box. Whereas maple bats only show their weakness when struck and will not give any visual sign of breakage before the audible sign of the crack of the bat during a swing. There are probable a dozen of ways to reduce the number of broken bats that have either been suggested or advised throughout the years.
Maybe the action of thicker handles, and the compliance of players to not shave down handles and make them customized after manufacture could be another solution. Maybe the MLB has to provide a maximum diameter for the handles of bats by the manufacturers. But would a thicker handle minimize the shards flying still throughout the stands and the playing surface. If you thicken the handle you will make it safer. But alone will this help some of the problem.
Or is the fact that wood bats fail, that it is a part of the game to see bats splinter and crack. But some of today’s bats do not make a simple splintering or cracking, but produce a missile that takes on speed as it leaves the batters box. So with that in mind, we have to face the reality that bats fail, and that maple bats will fail far more times than ash bat in the future. MLB could be doing a study right now on wood types and maybe implementing restrictions on certain wood types that display more brittle properties in them. Or maybe even think of implementing a specification on the grain alignment to help them stopping breaking in alarming rates in 2009or beyond.
Individually, the teams could set up more protective netting in front of the lower level infield seats in stadiums with the premise to protect their fans. I know that Detroit Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson suggested such a measure on his ESPN.com blog. Because players have their attention and eye towards the batter, they have more ample time to dodge and even see the shards coming towards them. While spectators in those front rows have a tendency to look in other directions because of the multiple attention getting sights and sounds of the game.
That might be a way of protecting the fans, but those people pay good money to sit in those sections and most know the dangers firsthand from foul balls and errant throws to first or third base. To suggest that they are the only ones in the ball park to be protected might not be viewed as well by fans above the dugout, or further down the foul lines in stadiums. And anyways, who want to sit there on the front row and have to look through a net the entire game. If I wanted to look through glass or netting, I would go to an NHL game, not want to watch the greatest game on dirt.