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Would baseball be better if the league supplied all equipment?


DrungoHazewood

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This is inspired by an article on Bill James online, which has recently gone live. If you're a fan it looks like great stuff. Articles, columns, stats, other stuff. Including full Fielding Bible +/- ratings for everyone over the past three years.

Anyway, one of his articles he's talking about the effect of bat technology being radically changed over the last 20 or 30 years without baseball's consent. As long as the bat meets some basic material, weight, and size constraints you're allowed to use whatever bat you want. So manufacturers have introduced ever harder, lighter, and thinner bats, which have had a rather huge impact on offenses.

If baseball really wanted to control the product fans see on the field, wouldn't it be better if baseball supplied all of the equipment that really effects the basics of the game? Bats, gloves, balls... that would probably do it.

Instead of ever more juiced bats, the sport could tweak offenses by spec'ing out a bat, or several bats that everyone has to pick from. If baseball decides that there's too many runs scored on homers, they could force larger, thicker-handled bats and smaller gloves to tilt the game back towards batting average.

I think it's an interesting idea if done with transparency. Every year the league announces the bats, balls, and gloves to be used for the upcoming season. And maybe a full test report on the bats and balls. Good way to tweak the game when things seem out of line, and a good way to stimulate interest in the sport in the offseason.

What we don't want is some secret tweaking, like most people assume the sport already does with balls.

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You raise an interesting point.

I'm sure the players would go nuts over it, especially if the tinkering was constant and NASCAR-like.

In my softball league, we're still trying to figure out whether ASAs banning of two "re-released" bats means that the bats they're copies of are also banned, despite having ASA approval up through last season.

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I would like to see Ruthian-sized bats made mandatory. As I understand it, he used a tree trunk minus the bark.

However, I would expect a huge uproar from the players' union over something like this. Not that there is no merit to the idea, just saying that I expect huge grumblings especially if some superstars' numbers drop just after such a change.

-m

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However, I would expect a huge uproar from the players' union over something like this. Not that there is no merit to the idea, just saying that I expect huge grumblings especially if some superstars' numbers drop just after such a change.

-m

The other big part of this is that players make pretty good money off endorsement contracts for bats and gloves, including the companies selling copies of players' personal bat models to the public. Plus, the current arrangement allows small independent bat companies to emerge if they can just get some young players to use their bats and then advertise them after they get to the majors as opposed to one or two big corporations monopolizing the market. I think tighter regulation of size (including width at various parts of the bat), materials, etc. might be in order, but the free market should be allowed to work and spur innovation as long as MLB is allowed to exercise some control over the construction. There are enough "official" airlines, banks and soft drinks. While the ideal of leveling the playing field is a noble one, having one company supply official bats would lead to more of the corporatization of sports, which IMO is worse than any "unfair" advantage a player gets by using a high tech bat that is within the rules. Baseball could always tweak the rules on glove length, etc. from year to year and allow the independent equipment providers to adjust.

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I think MLB ought to use the bats we use in my base ball league.

Seriously, I think creating a standard for some "real" pieces of lumber would be great. I had the opportunity to hold and swing one of Ryan Howard's personal bats and the sucker was so long and light and thin-handled that I felt like I was swinging a softball bat. These guys are major leaguers. I don't think it's too much to make them use a decent sized bat.

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I agree with blueberryale on this one. I think the money angle, as usual, is the biggest obstacle to such an idea. I'd be for such an arrangement, granted (as Drungo mentioned) it was done with transparency. If everyone knew what what being mandated for use, or up for change, I'd be fine with it. They also need to be careful to not "go crazy" with changes, or maybe set up a pilot program before implementing new requirements. Interesting argument though.

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