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There has been a lot of discussion recently about the dangers of maple baseball bats.
SI described the danger:
"In recent years right-handed pitcher Rick Helling, while pitching in the minor leagues, was impaled in the left arm by a broken bat, a 15-inch shard penetrating three inches into his arm."
Alex Rodriguez expressed his concerns:
"I've never seen anything like it. Even if I'm 140 feet away [at third] base I'm in danger. In the last year or two I've seen more bats break. Why not ban them? They've banned everything else."
A lot can be said about that ARod quote, but let's focus on the topic at hand. An MIT grad is saying he has a solution to the maple bat problem in the form of a new bat he designed. Ward Dill's "Radial Bat" is made in a way that it will not suffer a 'catastrophic break.'
Even if Dill has solved the safety issue, will the bat's performance be similar enough to bats used today? A college player who tested the bat commented that it had more pop than traditional bats. Would modern day stadiums be able to contain the power potential of these bats?
Cost is another issue. The retail price of a maple Radial Bat for an adult is $150 and $130 for the ash model. MLB could probably float the bill, or buy the company. But, those price points would have to come way down to become viable for amateur and scholastic teams. The bats can still crack, meaning a team of 20 players could conservatively need 100 bats to get through a season.
MLB has not been afraid recently to implement change. A new steroid policy .... instant replay.....will bats be next?
New bat designed to take 'ping' out of baseball [SportingNews.com]
The danger of maple bats is a major problem for MLB [SI.com]