What will it take to force Major League Baseball to finally outlaw maple bats? A player losing an eye…a brain injury…or even worse?
He did, however, have to be hospitalized, where they treated Colvin with a chest tube to prevent a collapsed lung and the incident will end his season.
It has long been obvious that the harder maple bats are a lot more dangerous than softer ash wood bats as ash tends to splinter into small pieces while maple breaks into larger chunks of flying mayhem.
Look, it’s time that the players’ union does more to address this issue. They need to be willing to work with MLB owners to come up with an answer to the question of whether maple bats are worth the risk.
Pretty much everything we do in life carries with it some potential risk. But your risk tolerance is the issue here. You weigh the costs and benefits of an action to determine whether you are willing to accept that risk.
Meanwhile, perhaps Colvin’s incident will finally raise awareness to something that has been on many people’s minds ever since bats in general started breaking with alarming regularity.
Hitters favoring thinner bat handles in order to create a whipping affect when swinging the bats has resulted in more breakage than ever.
But ever since players started favoring the maple bats, the issue has gotten much more dangerous. And that danger isn’t just limited to on-field personnel.
Imagine if a piece of shattered bat punctured a fan? Now you could be talking about lawsuits and baseball doesn’t need the drama, horror, financial impact and negative publicity this would generate.
Now imagine someone actually being killed from a bat shard. Talk about a tragedy – and yet the real tragedy would be that it could have been prevented.
To be fair, the union has taken some steps to address the issue.
According to FOXNews.com, “the union resisted a ban on maple bats in the 2006 collective-bargaining talks, but has since worked with baseball to impose more stringent regulations on manufacturers.”
Apparently, those efforts have been successful, as the article goes on to say that “the rate of maple bats breaking dropped 35 percent from 2008 to ’09 and another 15 percent from ’09 to ’10.”
It is also true that one can never legislate all of the risk from the sport.
For example, though the risk is small, we all recognize that a thrown baseball can kill a man, especially a 95 mph fastball to the head.
In fact, Ray Chapman was beaned by a pitch from Carl Mays in 1920 and died from the injury twelve hours later.
The only other death resulting from an on-field injury occurred in 1909, when Mike “Doc” Powers died from complication resulting from crashing into a wall while chasing a foul pop-up.
So there will always be risks. Yet some risks can be mitigated easier than others.
Eliminating maple bats would be a change that could easily be made without impacting the game very much, so why not do it?
For even one tragedy would be one tragedy too many.