In a surprise move this afternoon, MLB owners decided to ban the use of all bats, regardless of their composition. A spokesperson for baseball cited "safety concerns" as the reason for the move.
The ban comes as a response to several incidents of shattered bats causing injury to coaches, and most recently, an umpire.
Umpire Brian O'Nora received a nasty cut on his forehead, as well as a concussion, when a maple bat shattered and struck him on the head.
Action like this comes as a slight surprise when one considers that maple bats have been the cause of the whole controversy. When asked why all types of bats were included in the ban, MLBPA executive director Donald Fehr said, "We don't want to play games with the safety of our players and fans."
Some experts expect the ban to result in a significant drop in offensive numbers, most likely resembling a return to the dead-ball era. "Now even Dontrelle Willis can keep his pitches over the plate without worry" said one player, quoted on the condition of anonymity.
"Look for a huge increase in the strikeout-to-walk ratio, as well as no-hit bids," said baseball guru Peter Gammons. He continued, "For too long, the rules have been slanted to aid hitters. It was only a matter of time before there was a shift in the other direction."
Tommy Lasorda agrees.
Lasorda, who was hit by the barrel of Vladimir Guerrero's bat at the 2001 All-Star Game, was quoted as saying, "Today's players and coaches simply lack the athletic ability to avoid sports' ultimate killing machine, the bat. Something had to be done to stop the unquenchable blood lust of Louisville Slugger."
The move was also made with the safety of batters in mind, argued Bud Selig, amid some controversy. "Splinters and blisters...you don't see soccer players getting those on their hands, and why not? No bats. It's simple. We'll save hundreds of dollars on Band-Aids and Neosporin."
Currently, baseball has suspended all games while they explore viable alternatives to the bat. Some of the options being considered are comically over-sized boxing gloves, which would force hitters to punch the ball into play, whiffle bats and balls, and a comprehensive changeover to Nerf equipment.