MLB continues to play Russian roulette with Maple bats.

Baseball 15 Mar 2010
How many more players, coaches, umpires and fans need to be injured by exploding Maple bats before MLB finally bans them? Tampa Bay pitcher, David price, was the latest victim a few days ago, and was lucky to escape with only an abrasion to his non-pitching hand. Others haven’t been so lucky.

Clay Hensley waiting for impact

May 6, 2005 – Padre pitcher Clay Hensley is heat in the back of the head by the barrel of a broken Maple bat. He receives 4 stitches to close the wound, but stays in the game.

Nate McClouth broken bat hits Long

April 16, 2008 – Pirate’s batting coach Don Long is struck below the left eye by a piece of shrapnel from the handle of a broken Maple bat swung by Nate McClouth. Long receives 10 stitches to close the wound dangerously close to his eye.

Susan Rhodes

April 25, 2008 – Susan Rhodes, a fan at an MLB game, is struck in the face by the barrel of a broken Maple bat. Her jaw is shattered, and requires surgery to put 4 screws and a titanium plate in place to hold her jaw together. Doctors are unable to predict whether she will ever fully recover from the headaches, shifted teeth, atrophied jaw, and loss of energy that she suffered from the injury.

Brian O'Nora

June 24, 2008 – MLB umpire, Brian O’Nora is struck in the forehead by the barrel of a broken Maple bat while umpiring home plate. He is forced to leave the game and goes to the hospital to get treatment for a laceration on his forehead. Ironically the same day O’Nora was hit, MLB’s Safety and Health Advisory Committee had met to discuss what to about injuries being caused by broken bats.

These are just a few examples of injuries directly related to the explosion of Maple bats being used by batters. There are countless other stories, and even more near misses involving players, coaches, umpires, and fans.

The danger is clear, and the cause of the threat is obvious. Yet, MLB continues to refuse to remove Maple bats from games, almost in defiance of the body of evidence that continues to build warning that an even more serious injury, or worse a pointless death, is a looming eventuality. Even their own study conducted in 2005 showed no difference in the reaction of the ball off the different woods, and more importantly that Ash bats tend to break innocuously while Maple bats had a propensity to explode!

MLB’s response? More studies, of course! More studies to investigate the affects of grain angles, moisture content, and wood density. More committees to review policy on bat handle thicknesses. More meetings to discuss every option OTHER than obvious, sensible, and prudent solution…banning Maple bats from use in competition.

As the injuries mount, so does MLB’s culpability. In fact, the legal responsibility for this needless game of Russian roulette being played with anyone who participates or goes to a game is obvious, but they are doing all they can to protect themselves from future litigation. The fact that they have refused to financially assist any of the victims, especially fans like Susan Rhodes, shows MLB’s awareness and concern of creating a trail of evidence acknowledging it’s responsibility.

Is it their worry over the increasing cost and availability of Ash bats, as Ash supplies decrease for natural and man-induced reasons? Is it a need to protect bat companies who’ve already invested in millions of dollars worth of Maple billets, waiting to be spun into exploding weapons? Is it a need to save face for allowing a dangerous piece of equipment on to their fields in the first place, or to avoid legal culpability for injuries that have already occurred?

Whatever the reason, it is now beyond simply being short sided and irresponsible – the term now is becoming criminal recklessness. “Recklessness usually arises when an accused is actually aware of the potentially adverse consequences to the planned actions, but has gone ahead anyway, exposing a particular individual or unknown victim to the risk of suffering the foreseen harm but not actually desiring that the victim be hurt.”

Of course, no one in the MLB offices wants anyone to be hurt, but they certainly are aware of the danger, and yet continue to allow victims to stand and sit in front of the barrel, while players spin the loaded cylinder and pull the trigger. It’s just a matter of time before there is a bullet in the chamber, and a career is cut short, or worse, a life is lost.

Play Ball!!!!!!!!


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    June 13, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Great article. There is something that can eliminate injuries caused by broken bats that does not change the integrity of solid-wood bats. The Blackstone, Ltd. “IRONHORSE WRAP” eliminates injuries caused by shattered wood bats. It will also increase the durability and lifespan of solid wood bats. It has passed 2 sets of tests, conducted in 3 phases, by MLB’s research facilities at Lowell/UMASS in 2008 & 2009 with a 100% success rate in eliminating flying debris from hurting players and spectators. It has also proven itself effective against all hinging and tethering that causes the baseball bat to come around and hurt the umpire, catcher and the batter. The “IRONHORSE WRAP” does not promote itself to be 100% effective in all multi-piece failures, especially in failures that occur beyond the region the tape is applied, but it has a proven track record of dramatically reducing the amount of flying projectiles that hurt and injure players and spectators as outlined in the December 15, 2009 Lowell/UMass Report. The Baseball Research Center at Lowell/UMASS states: “its use (Ironhorse Wrap) could significantly reduce the number of multi-piece bat failures when applied to maple bats.” Since September 2008, this safety device has virtually eliminated all injuries due to broken solid wood baseball bats during game-play. The total cost for implementing this safety device is $5 per bat. It is no different than the tape a player already puts on his bat today.

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