Who’s afraid of the big bad bat?

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By David Carnes

By David Carnes

As of September, New York City high school students will no longer be bringing their metal bats to school. Of course, wooden bats will still be fine.

This is the result of the New York City Council’s latest effort to make the nation’s future safer, starting in its fair city. Even after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the Council’s bill, the Council overrode his veto with an extraordinary majority, to keep the ban alive.

I can only wonder where this fear of metal bats in the hands of high school baseball players came from.

Has there been a sudden surge of baseball injuries from balls hit by metal bats? Not

according to Little League Baseball. On its Web site, Little League claims that injuries as the result of batted balls have actually been decreasing for the last few decades.

In fact, of the eight sensational fatalities that City Councils and voting parents everywhere are so afraid of, more have been the result of batters using wood bats than metal. These results have been corroborated by American Legion Baseball studies.

The highest quality wood bats are just as hard-hitting as today’s metal bats, according to Little League standards – which high schools also abide by.

Even if that wasn’t the case, almost everyone who has been to a professional baseball game has seen a bat break when hitting a fastball. Everyone’s seen the SportsCenter highlights of the shower of splinters accompanying half of a wooden bat on their high-speed trip towards the pitcher.

We could dredge up data on players injured by any and every kind of bat to ever hit the field, but I am not going to argue that either bat is safer than the other.

What I do argue is that this ban is simply the result of the stereotypical “Little League Dads” and “Soccer Moms”. These are the parents who call every friend and relative in the county to come watch their kids play, and then spend the entire game yelling at every call and decision made.

No one is safe from these rants, be they umpires, coaches, or unsuspecting 14-year-old players.

At the risk of yet another “overprotective parents these days” column, they are so clearly the culprits in this case, it really is amazing. The City Council’s claim that metal baseball bats are a safety hazard to young players is completely unfounded, and has been proved so in many studies by various authorities.

What may be the most amusing part of this is that many high school players actually look forward to the possibility that they may get to use a real wood bat in their game – just like the professional players. Just like their role models.

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