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Bonds' Body Armor and It's Benefits


CrimsonTribe

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I found this article linked from The Big Lead. I don't know much about the publication or the author or anything so if anyone would like to enlighten us about their credibility, that would be great. Anyway, it gives some interesting arguments on how Bonds' protective armor has helped him hit home runs in more ways than just allowing him to stand on top of the plate without fear of injury. I never really thought of this before, and it may be more piling on top of Bonds, but it's worth a quick glance:

1) The apparatus is hinged at the elbow. It is a literal "hitting machine" that allows Bonds to release his front arm on the same plane during every swing. It largely accounts for the seemingly magical consistency of every Bonds stroke.

2) The apparatus locks at the elbow when the lead arm is fully elongated because of a small flap at the top of the bottom section that fits into a groove in the bottom of the top section. The locked arm forms a rigid front arm fulcrum that allows extraordinary, maximally efficient explosion of the levers of Bonds' wrists. Bonds hands are quicker than those of average hitters because of his mechanical "assistant."

3) When Bonds swings, the weight of the apparatus helps to seal his inner upper arm to his torso at impact. Thus "connected," he automatically hits the ball with the weight of his entire body - not just his arms - as average hitters ("extending") tend to do.

4) Bonds has performed less well in Home Run Derbies than one might expect because he has no excuse to wear a "protector" facing a batting practice pitcher. As he tires, his front arm elbow tends to lift and he swings under the ball, producing towering pop flies or topspin liners that stay in the park. When the apparatus is worn, its weight keeps his elbow down and he drives the ball with backspin.

5) Bonds enjoys quicker access to the inside pitch than average hitters because his "assistant" - counter-intuitively - allows him to turn more rapidly. Everyone understands that skaters accelerate their spins by pulling their arms into their torsos, closer to their axes of rotation. When Bonds is confronted with an inside pitch, he spins like a skater because his upper front arm is "assistant"-sealed tightly against the side of his chest.

6) At impact, Bonds has additional mass (the weight of his "assistant") not available to the average hitter. The combined weight of "assistant" and bat is probably equal to the weight of the lumber wielded by Babe Ruth but with more manageable weight distribution.

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You're right, probably not a big deal, but can you ever really discount a Bionic Arm theory? ;)

Yeah, I understand what they are saying but they are really stretching here. Even if it was helping him that much, kudos to Bonds, it's not illegal as far as I know and if it helps him with his swing then why not use it?

Writeups like this reek of Bond jealosy, lot of that going around right now.

Edit: Still, thanks for posting this it is something to think about.

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BP's Will Carroll offer his take:

This article is so ludicrous that I can only read it if I hear it in Mike Tyson’s voice.

Seriously, I’ve had so many emails today asking me what I thought of it — quick answer: very little — that I feel it easier to address here than waiting for tomorrow’s UTK. Let’s stomp out this emerging meme before it gains any more traction.

Simply put, this is incorrect. Bonds wears a Franklin brace, one that anyone can buy from their web site*, that has been slightly customized. In fact, Mr. Witte could have bought one and tested it himself, but apparently, watching the video was enough. Maybe the “Shok-Sorb” is the culprit here. Perhaps “Microbe Shield” helps Bonds pass all those drug tests.

The contortions people will go to in order to discredit Bonds makes me want to order one of these, to protect me when I beat my head against the wall in frustration.

* The link to the Franklin web site doesn’t allow for “deep links” so click on products, accessories, and then look for the “MLB Elbow/Forearm Guard.” And while you’re there, look at that interesting hand pad that Chase Utley might be interested in now.

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Anybody ever get hit on the elbow by a baseball? If you haven't, trust me, it hurts. The article touches on the protective benefits of this device but the point the author is interested in is the "mechanical advantage" theory.

Let's say that the skeptics are correct and there is no mechanical advantage to this thing. If Bond's has been wearing it since '92 then whatever injury that might have originally provided an excuse for adopting it healed long ago. So what is the reason for continuing to use it? The only answer that makes sense to me is that it's purpose is to take away the inside pitch from the pitcher. Others have suggested this and I agree with it. This give the batter a tremendous advantage.

This raises two questions in my mind. First, why is MLB allowing anyone to wear this crap without a clear, current injury to protect - a dispensation that should go away when the injury heals. You gotta wonder why everyone isn't wearing one.

Actually I think the answer to this is rooted in the whole greedy owner/greedy union death dance that's too depressing to think about at the moment, so let's move on to question two.

The second question is much more entertaining - it goes like this: If Barry stepped up to the plate sporting this contraption against Dave Stewart, Don Drysdale or Bob Gibson, how many pitches would he see before being the guest of honor at his own funeral?

Aaron faced Drysdale, Gibson, Marichal and a lot of other very tough pitchers with no protection other that a 60's vintage helmet with no ear flap. With all the media noise going on at the moment about Barry's achievement, that very pertinent perspective is getting lost.

Because we're Oriole fans, maybe we should think about it this way - does anybody besides me wonder what Frank Robinson's take is on Barry's batting attire? I'd love to be in the room for the answer, although I probably wouldn't want my daughter to be with me.

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Anybody ever get hit on the elbow by a baseball? If you haven't, trust me, it hurts. The article touches on the protective benefits of this device but the point the author is interested in is the "mechanical advantage" theory.

Let's say that the skeptics are correct and there is no mechanical advantage to this thing. If Bond's has been wearing it since '92 then whatever injury that might have originally provided an excuse for adopting it healed long ago. So what is the reason for continuing to use it? The only answer that makes sense to me is that it's purpose is to take away the inside pitch from the pitcher. Others have suggested this and I agree with it. This give the batter a tremendous advantage.

Of course. If there's a legal device that allows a hitter to nullify the intimidating effect of an inside fastball, my only question is "why isn't everyone using it?" Seriously, if this gives a hitter a competitive advantage I'd require every Oriole to use it.

This raises two questions in my mind. First, why is MLB allowing anyone to wear this crap without a clear, current injury to protect - a dispensation that should go away when the injury heals. You gotta wonder why everyone isn't wearing one.

I do wonder. The reason they allow it is that it's kind of odd, maybe even a little immoral, to ban a device that helps people avoid injury. I think MLB has decided that they don't want the negative publicity that would result fron a major star being out six months with a shattered elbow because they banned a piece of safety equipment. There may also be liability issues.

Actually I think the answer to this is rooted in the whole greedy owner/greedy union death dance that's too depressing to think about at the moment, so let's move on to question two.

:confused:

The second question is much more entertaining - it goes like this: If Barry stepped up to the plate sporting this contraption against Dave Stewart, Don Drysdale or Bob Gibson, how many pitches would he see before being the guest of honor at his own funeral?

To me, this hero worship of guys who supposedly loved the beanball is just as disturbing as anything Bonds as done. How exactly would Bob Gibson have killed Bonds if he's wearing body armor?

Aaron faced Drysdale, Gibson, Marichal and a lot of other very tough pitchers with no protection other that a 60's vintage helmet with no ear flap. With all the media noise going on at the moment about Barry's achievement, that very pertinent perspective is getting lost.

And it's been spectacularly overblown just how often those pitchers nailed hitters. Hank Aaron was hit by pitches 1 1/2 times a year. He was hit 32 times in his whole 23-year career. The man wasn't up there shaking in his cleats, terrified of a Don Drysdale fastball to the skull.

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I do wonder. The reason they allow it is that it's kind of odd, maybe even a little immoral, to ban a device that helps people avoid injury. I think MLB has decided that they don't want the negative publicity that would result fron a major star being out six months with a shattered elbow because they banned a piece of safety equipment. There may also be liability issues.

I have no problem with a player wearing protection, but the body armor that Bonds wears is just ridiculous. I don't know about any 'advantages' he may gain from wearing it, but I highly doubt he stands as much over the plate as he does without it. The guy borders on standing outside of the box. It would be interesting to see how he'd react to MLB changing the rules to where he'd have to wear a regular elbow piece like everyone else.

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I have no problem with a player wearing protection, but the body armor that Bonds wears is just ridiculous. I don't know about any 'advantages' he may gain from wearing it, but I highly doubt he stands as much over the plate as he does without it. The guy borders on standing outside of the box. It would be interesting to see how he'd react to MLB changing the rules to where he'd have to wear a regular elbow piece like everyone else.

If MLB and the MLBPA thought it was an unfair advantage they'd change the rules. They don't, everyone can use them, those that don't are choosing to not use a legal tool. Barry Bonds isn't using anything that isn't available to every other player in professional baseball.

To me this is like speculating that Jim Edmonds' glove is 2" larger than average, so let's just see how many of his freakin' annoying catches he'd make if they'd just change the rules to make his glove illegal.

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Here's a question: where's all the Craig Biggio hate? Look at this picture. He's wearing an elbow protector roughly the size of the Astrodome.

A fairly large portion of Biggio's value was tied up in his ability to get on base, and much of that was due to his soon-to-be historic hit-by-pitch totals. He's set to break one of the longest-standing records in baseball history, Hughie Jennings' record 287 plunks.

It's arguable that the only reason he was able to do this and stay healthy for so long was his body armor. For Bonds the armor is a secondary thing - he hits homers because of skill, but the armor gives him a little more confidence to stay on top of the plate. Biggio's record is largely because he can stick this shield worthy of a Roman Legionaire three inches from the inside corner of the plate without fear of injury.

I guess if you're a hustling little guy with a dirty uniform, six pounds of eye black, and have never been accused of PED use you get a pass on this. Right?

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If MLB and the MLBPA thought it was an unfair advantage they'd change the rules. They don't, everyone can use them, those that don't are choosing to not use a legal tool. Barry Bonds isn't using anything that isn't available to every other player in professional baseball.

To me this is like speculating that Jim Edmonds' glove is 2" larger than average, so let's just see how many of his freakin' annoying catches he'd make if they'd just change the rules to make his glove illegal.

I don't think it's just Bonds, but he's the most glaring example. MANY players now-a-days sit right on top of the plate. I'm starting to think it's gotten to the point where your feet almost have to be touching homeplate for the umpire to say something to you. I just think MLB should look into changing the rule because a lot of guys wear some exagerated 'elbow pads' for 'protection'. It would be interesting to see what a lot of these guys would do if MLB were to change and make a specific rules about elbow/arm protection ... that they actually enforce.

Bonds just catches more flack from his because it's just so ridiculous. Yes, it's legal under current MLB rules, but you do have to admit, that thing is just huge. No player, unless he's had major elbow surgery/injuries in the past, needs to wear 'protection' that covers nearly his entire arm.

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Of course. If there's a legal device that allows a hitter to nullify the intimidating effect of an inside fastball, my only question is "why isn't everyone using it?" Seriously, if this gives a hitter a competitive advantage I'd require every Oriole to use it.

The fact that something’s legal doesn’t necessarily make it fair or right or even preferable for that matter. To me it’s preferable to maintain an environment where throwing at the head isn’t the only way for a pitcher to effectively send a message.

I do wonder. The reason they allow it is that it's kind of odd, maybe even a little immoral, to ban a device that helps people avoid injury. I think MLB has decided that they don't want the negative publicity that would result fron a major star being out six months with a shattered elbow because they banned a piece of safety equipment. There may also be liability issues.

Common sense and history make a clear case for batting helmets, but these elbow guards don’t protect lives or, in Barry Bond’s case, even an injury. I think there’s something to the notion that MLB doesn’t want its stars to be out six months with broken elbows, but it’s a stretch to make the possibility of injury in professional baseball a moral issue. Collisions routinely occur in the outfield and at home plate. Double plays get broken up aggressively by 240 pound men but I don’t hear anybody using that as a reason for advocating 2nd basemen wear full pads or infielders lobbying adopt them.

I can maybe see insurance questions, but what would the liability issues be? I don’t have an MLB contract to look at, but I would be very surprised if clear, comprehensive liability waiver language wasn’t a standard part of every contract when it comes to on-field injuries sustained during a normal game. Some guy throwing a small, hard object close to you at upwards of 100 mph from 60 feet away is the starting point of the contest, after all.

To me, this hero worship of guys who supposedly loved the beanball is just as disturbing as anything Bonds as done. How exactly would Bob Gibson have killed Bonds if he's wearing body armor?

It might have gone something like this: After thinking it over for about 2 seconds Gibson would have come inside with his “A” fastball just to hear the interesting sound the ball made ricocheting off the elbow guard. Then as Barry was heading to first, Gibson would suggest to him in a voice half the stadium could hear that armor was more appropriate for jousting than baseball and leave it to Barry to figure out the rest.

Of course I’m making this up, but maybe I’m that far off the mark. Years ago the late David Halberstam wrote a great book on the 1964 season which offered a lot of insight on, among other things, Bob Gibson and the way baseball was played back then. If you can find a copy, it’s a good read. Gibson wasn’t a headhunter per se, but he was a very, very tough competitor who didn’t think that batters had more right to the plate than he did.

I’m certainly guilty of hyperbole in trying to make my previous post more amusing, but I think there’s a clear difference between intentionally pitching inside for effect and ‘loving the beanball”. Pitching inside to open up the outside corner is a basic principle of pitching. So is occasionally reminding the batter what could happen if he stands too close to where the ball is supposed to go.

And it's been spectacularly overblown just how often those pitchers nailed hitters. Hank Aaron was hit by pitches 1 1/2 times a year. He was hit 32 times in his whole 23-year career. The man wasn't up there shaking in his cleats, terrified of a Don Drysdale fastball to the skull.

Perhaps it has been overblown, I wouldn’t know how to gauge that. Drysdale certainly was not shy about expressing his feelings on the subject of batters. Then again, Maddux, Glavine, Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and other active pitchers who don’t come immediately to mind have all publicly claimed the right to pitch inside when it suits them and rightly so – it’s part of the fabric of the game.

Personally it’s not important to me whether Aaron was hit 32 times or 132. If you maintain that there is nothing heroic about an intentional beanball then I would be the first to agree. But by the same token, there is certainly nothing heroic about Barry’s unnecessary elbow guard legal or otherwise.

You’re right, Aaron wasn’t up there shaking in his cleats at the prospect of a Drysdale fastball, but that confidence wasn’t a product of modern science. Steroid issues aside, if someone wants me to consider Barry Bonds in the same light as Henry Aaron, a good place to start would be for Barry to hit against Randy Johnson the same way Aaron hit against Drysdale.

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