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Monday, November 27, 2006

N.Y. Daily News: Mussina brushed back by pol for metal bat pitch

The Mike ‘n Mussina...a killer combo?

“I can unequivocally state that non-wood bats are no more dangerous than their wooden counterparts,” said Mussina, speaking as a member of the board of Little League Baseball.

...City Councilman James Oddo (R-S.I.), the chief backer of the ban, criticized the veteran hurler for entering the fray with a reference to the broken nose Mussina suffered in a 1998 game.

“Had the ball that hit Mike Mussina come off an aluminum bat, he probably wouldn’t be around to make such a ridiculous comment,” said Oddo, a die-hard Mets fan. “He should focus his attentions on avoiding more wooden bats as a professional baseball player and not be used in this manner.”

Repoz Posted: November 27, 2006 at 01:55 PM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: products, yankees

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   1. jwb Posted: November 27, 2006 at 02:25 PM (#2246388)
Hmm. A knowledgeable spokesman with an opposing point of view. Better go the ad hominem attack route.
   2. Inquisitor Posted: November 27, 2006 at 02:53 PM (#2246401)
Being a baseball player doesn't automatically grant you more knowledge about the physics of the game than someone else. And Mike Mussina really is being a ######### if he's making statements like, "I can unequivocally state that non-wood bats are no more dangerous than their wooden counterparts." There is room for debate on the issue, but anyone who makes "unequivocal" statements, especially on a topic that has knowledgeable proponents on both sides of the issue, is just setting himself up for public mockery. Granted, the "ridiculous" part wasn't necessary. But I'd be hard pressed to find a better adjective to describe his comment.

At any rate, referring to an incident in the past and pointing out that had circumstances been changed to reflect someone's views, he might find himself on the other side of the fence, is not an ad hominem attack. Let's say someone is arguing that armor-piercing bullents are, "Unequivocally no more dangerous than their non-armor-piercing counterparts." I discover that this person was shot in the chest with a normal round while wearing body armor and survived the incident with only minor injury. I then point out that he probably would have found himself in a much more dangerous, potentially lethal situation, had the bullet been armor-piercing. This would not be an ad hominem attack. In fact, it's a pretty good argument.

Why I love Google.
Oh look, another reason why I love Google.

Alan Nathan, the Physics of Baseball guy, also has a short article on the issue.
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 27, 2006 at 03:38 PM (#2246423)
"I can unequivocally state that non-wood bats are no more dangerous than their wooden counterparts," said Mussina, speaking as a member of the board of Little League Baseball.

"Though less dangerous than many other sports, baseball is not without risk," the pitcher added in a statement distributed by a public relations firm that represents a metal-bat manufacturer.


And the 1940's and 1950's were chock full of cigarette ads from doctors who were touting the health benefits of filters which were made up partially from asbestos.

Mussina may be sincere, or he may be just on the take. Either way, his opinion carries very little weight against the evidence cited in that third article posted by Inquisitor. The truth is that non-wood bats have two advantages, one which is politically correct (the fast that they last much longer) and one which isn't (the added oomph factor). The first is the official reason for using them, and is the one cited by cost-conscious league officials, but if you've ever read the ads for them you know why batters love them. Batters love them for the same reason that Barry Bonds loves steroids: It makes them seem more powerful than they really are.

Of course since everyone in the league is using them, there's no competitive advantage, but tell that one to the pitchers.

If the stated reason for using non-wood bats (cost) is in fact the only reason for using them, then the solution is simple: Test all non-wood bats to ensure that they have exactly the same power factor / oomph / or whatever you want to call it as wooden bats. And treat violators strictly, by penalizing the player with a suspension, and the bat manufacturer by voiding his contract with the league in question.

If such a standard is already in place, I don't see what the complaints about non-wood bats are about. But if they aren't, and if a non-wood bat still give a batter more oomph than a wooden one, why on earth would any league allow them in the first place?
   4. AROM Posted: November 27, 2006 at 03:46 PM (#2246428)
I'd be inclined to side with Mussina here. He's taken a baseball to the face. Has Oddo ever dealt with that? He probably wouldn't care anyway since he'd just shape-shift the injury away.
   5. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 27, 2006 at 04:02 PM (#2246443)
I'd be inclined to side with Mussina here. He's taken a baseball to the face. Has Oddo ever dealt with that? He probably wouldn't care anyway since he'd just shape-shift the injury away.

And there were plenty of doctors who smoked many cartons of those Kent cigarettes, asbestos filters and all. But the ones who refrained from smoking those cigarettes might have had somewhat more trustworthy opinions concerning their health consequences.
   6. jim in providence Posted: November 27, 2006 at 04:25 PM (#2246466)

If the stated reason for using non-wood bats (cost) is in fact the only reason for using them, then the solution is simple: Test all non-wood bats to ensure that they have exactly the same power factor / oomph / or whatever you want to call it as wooden bats. And treat violators strictly, by penalizing the player with a suspension, and the bat manufacturer by voiding his contract with the league in question.

If such a standard is already in place, I don't see what the complaints about non-wood bats are about. But if they aren't, and if a non-wood bat still give a batter more oomph than a wooden one, why on earth would any league allow them in the first place?


According to this news release from the NCAA rules committee, as of 2003 the exit velocity for balls hit off of aluminum bats cannot exceed 97 MPH, which is evidently the standard for wood bats as well. The upshot of the standard is to make aluminum bats perform more like wood bats.

I don't know if Little League et al. use a similar sort of standard.

My first reaction in reading this article was that "unequivocal" was definitely not the word to use. There doesn't seem to be a settled consensus on the matter, largely due to a dearth of research. I would point out that some of the research posted by Inquisitor above employed pre-2003 aluminum bats (as Russell quite scrupulously acknowledges in the first article).

At any rate, my gut response here falls on the excess of caution side. Besides bat companies, who would lose out by a switch to wood?
   7. Inquisitor Posted: November 27, 2006 at 04:26 PM (#2246469)
"I'd be inclined to side with Mussina here. He's taken a baseball to the face. Has Oddo ever dealt with that?"


You can't be serious. I refuse to believe that this is a serious comment.
   8. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: November 27, 2006 at 04:32 PM (#2246474)
The truth is that non-wood bats have two advantages, one which is politically correct (the fast that they last much longer) and one which isn't (the added oomph factor). The first is the official reason for using them, and is the one cited by cost-conscious league officials, but if you've ever read the ads for them you know why batters love them. Batters love them for the same reason that Barry Bonds loves steroids: It makes them seem more powerful than they really are.

And if its cold out (and its real freakin' cold in the Northeast for much of Spring baseball season), a ball of the handle stings the hands eleventy-billion times worse with a wood bat than with a metal one.

And, the metal bat is much more forgiving to a ball hit off the hands, even if the sweetspot has a similar COR
   9. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: November 27, 2006 at 04:36 PM (#2246478)
You can't be serious. I refuse to believe that this is a serious comment.

He then called either Republicans or politicians shape-shifters; that's all I needed to hear.
   10. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 27, 2006 at 04:39 PM (#2246482)
And if its cold out (and its real freakin' cold in the Northeast for much of Spring baseball season), a ball of the handle stings the hands eleventy-billion times worse with a wood bat than with a metal one.

And, the metal bat is much more forgiving to a ball hit off the hands, even if the sweetspot has a similar COR


Of course. Those are also good reasons, and as long as the ball jumps off a non-wood bat at the same velocity that it jumps off a wooden bat, there's no particular reason for a cost-conscious league to ban them. But you should have to have that certification, and by a non-industry sponsored testing service.
   11. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 27, 2006 at 04:46 PM (#2246487)
The ball is far more dangerous than the bat - in the Brown study, the difference between aluminum and wood bats was 93 and 86 mph, respectively.

Aluminum bats do seem to be more dangerous, but I'd bet that having pitchers where a protective helmet would be about a million times more effective at protecting kids than giving them an extra 1/25th of a second to react to a very dangerous moving object.

I would think minimizing damage would be far more important than maximizing reaction time.
   12. AROM Posted: November 27, 2006 at 05:08 PM (#2246503)
You can't be serious. I refuse to believe that this is a serious comment.

He then called either Republicans or politicians shape-shifters; that's all I needed to hear.


No, not serious, and nothing to do with him being a Republican or politician. Just a bad Star Trek reference. Apparently there's not enough geekiness here this morning.
   13. standuptriple Posted: November 27, 2006 at 05:10 PM (#2246505)
How big is this problem? OK, so you have 30 mil kids playing Little League, 5 get hurt in this manner, by all means lets ban baseball all together. Kids get hurt playing sports. It sucks. People choke on toothpicks too. I have yet to see a politician get on the anti-toothpick platform. An industry standard would be ok. Maybe go after bat companies that don't adhere and thrive on the "illegal" bats. Legislation probably isn't the best course and neither is going to the extreme of all-wood.
   14. Flynn Posted: November 27, 2006 at 07:08 PM (#2246592)
I'm inclined to side with Mussina simply because I hate blowhard pols.
   15. strong silence Posted: November 27, 2006 at 07:26 PM (#2246597)
Mussina never should have made that movie.
   16. The Polish Sausage Racer Posted: November 27, 2006 at 07:55 PM (#2246615)
Obviously, the only way to resolve this is to hit Mussina repeatedly with wooden bats and aluminum bats and assess the various degrees of damage.
   17. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: November 27, 2006 at 08:05 PM (#2246627)
I did a middle school science experiment on this. I set up a pendulum so that the bat would knock a ball off a tee, and repeated 100 times or so with a wood bat and then an aluminum bat. I think the wood bat actually "drove" the ball farther IIRC.
   18. mgl Posted: November 27, 2006 at 09:53 PM (#2246719)
Is using metal bats really more cost-effective? A good non-wood bat costs anywhere from 100 to 300+ dollars, right? A wood bat can be had for 20 bucks or so. Even with breakage, is a metal bat more cost effective? I don't think so.
   19. rdfc Posted: November 27, 2006 at 11:22 PM (#2246806)
It's not even close. You can buy metal bats for as little as twice as much as wood bats, and wood bats will break about 100 times more often.

Cost is the only reason metal bats are used today. Originally, there may have been other factors, but today virtually every organization would move to wood if it wasn't about cost.

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