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Why is corking a bat illegal?


DrungoHazewood

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The obvious answer is that the powers-that-be think that it gives the batter some kind of unfair advantage.

But on Mythbusters last night (and I haven't watched the show yet, so I don't have all the details) they tested baseball myths. One was the effect of a corked bat on the speed of hit balls. The result was apparently a rather significant decrease compared to an unaltered bat.

This makes sense. Force = mass x acceleration. If you lower the mass you might be able to accelerate the bat a bit faster, but every test I've ever seen says the two effects offset, at best. The did a test with Roger Maris years ago with him hitting BP with a wide variety of different bats, and within a small margin of error he hit the ball similarly far with different weights. He swung the lighter bats faster, but the decreased mass made up for it.

Add in the fact that the cork is much less resiliant than the surrounding wood, and you have a situation where the corked bat is probably less resiliant than the legal one - it'll absorb more energy, so less force will be transferred to the ball.

Robert Adair stated as much in his book The Physics of Baseball 15 or 20 years ago.

So the only advantage you're left with is a lighter bat. But today almost all major leaguers use bats with very thin handles, made of very light and hard wood, that has been baked and dried to remove any moisture and excess weight. The effect of corking such a bat to make it lighter would be very small, and you'd be left with a bat that's probably less effecient at transferring energy to the ball.

I think baseball needs to change the rules to allow corking. Clearly they still need to ban metal, or technological gizmos inserted in the bat, and such. But all of the best scientific evidence points to corking doing little, if anything, positive, and possibly even being counter-productive.

Did anyone see Mythbusters last night and can supply us with some more details of what they did? I DVR'd the show, and will probably watch it this weekend.

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Bill Nye the Science guy did a VERY similar show about a decade ago, he had some big slugger on the show, maybe it was Canseco or Big Mac I don't remember.

Anyway, on that show, they said that while the ball does not go as far, when an actual human hitter is using a cork bat, the weight distribution at fattest part of bat allows him to get through the zone so much faster. This would make it much easier to hit because you can wait longer on pitches and hit inside stuff you might not be able to get to usually.

Corked bats doesn't equal homeruns BUT when that player is Sosa or the likes he doesn't really need the "brute force" help and the bat does allow him to hit more home runs.

Also I watched the show last night, instead of the end of the Orioles game. It wasn't as good as the usual weekly show. Roger Clemens was on. The mythbusters actually tested wether there is a difference in movement between a fastball, curve and slider. Was there ever any doubt?

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I think it's the technological gizmos thing. Whether they work or not. The bat is supposed to be a solid piece of wood, nothing more.

Here's what the official major league rules say about a bat:

1.10

(a) The bat shall be a smooth, round stick not more than 2 3/4 inches in diameter at the thickest part and not more than 42 inches in length. The bat shall be one piece of solid wood.

NOTE: No laminated or experimental bats shall be used in a professional game (either championship season or exhibition games) until the manufacturer has secured approval from the Rules Committee of his design and methods of manufacture.

(b) Cupped Bats. An indentation in the end of the bat up to one inch in depth is permitted and may be no wider than two inches and no less than one inch in diameter. The indentation must be curved with no foreign substance added.

© The bat handle, for not more than 18 inches from its end, may be covered or treated with any material or substance to improve the grip. Any such material or substance, which extends past the 18 inch limitation, shall cause the bat to be removed from the game.

NOTE: If the umpire discovers that the bat does not conform to © above until a time during or after which the bat has been used in play, it shall not be grounds for declaring the batter out, or ejected from the game.

(d) No colored bat may be used in a professional game unless approved by the Rules Committee.

Note the bolded part. The rules do leave the door open for laminated wood or other experimental bats. According to this site Vic Wertz used to use a laminated bat.

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Bill Nye the Science guy did a VERY similar show about a decade ago, he had some big slugger on the show, maybe it was Canseco or Big Mac I don't remember.

Anyway, on that show, they said that while the ball does not go as far, when an actual human hitter is using a cork bat, the weight distribution at fattest part of bat allows him to get through the zone so much faster. This would make it much easier to hit because you can wait longer on pitches and hit inside stuff you might not be able to get to usually.

Corked bats doesn't equal homeruns BUT when that player is Sosa or the likes he doesn't really need the "brute force" help and the bat does allow him to hit more home runs.

But like I said in the original post, most players now use legal bats with thin handles and very light, hard wood that accomplish much the same thing as corking legally.

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But like I said in the original post, most players now use legal bats with thin handles and very light, hard wood that accomplish much the same thing as corking legally.

Yes, I would agree with what you said.

For some reason I think that it used to be illegal to have the end of the barrel of the bat be missing. Shoot I don't know how to describe this but you know how there are two types of woods bats, those with a solid top and those with a dip in it, where the tip has been removed.

For some reason I think that for a long time you could only have the solid bat, but they changed that too.

I could be entirely wrong though.

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And as far as what they did on Mythbsters, they used a previous "sword swinging" machine to swing a bat and they used an air pressure cannon to shoot a baseball.

They corked a bat and had a regular bat...both MLB bats, Louisville Sluggers. They had the ball going 80 MPH and when it hit the normal bat it came off at around 80 MPH on average, when it came off the corked bat it (on average) the ball left the bat at half the speed the ball was traveling (40 MPH).

This seems odd to me because I have always thought that the ball left the bat most of the time at a higher speed of that which the ball was thrown. But then again I've never played in a game with wooden bats, only metal/aluminum.

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I'm not sure what the exact wording of the rules in MLB state, but I would think that the rule would (or should) state that modifying/filling a wooden bat is illegal.

In other words, you shouldn't be allowed to drill a hole into the bat and hollow it out with the purpose of filling it with cork, those super bouncy rubber balls (I'm not sure what their actual name is), rubber, or any other material.

I don't think the point is to judge each individual filler to determine whether it actually helps to hit the ball with more efficiency and determine whether to legalize it or not.

If cork filler is legalized, then it might lead to wondering what other fillers should be legalized. Therefore, to me, it's better to simply state that bats should not be allowed to be hollowed out and/or filled with any other 'foreign' material.

Just because a corked bat may not lead to an advantage doesn't mean that it should be legalized.

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I'm not sure what the exact wording of the rules in MLB state, but I would think that the rule would (or should) state that modifying/filling a wooden bat is illegal.

In other words, you shouldn't be allowed to drill a hole into the bat and hollow it out with the purpose of filling it with cork, those super bouncy rubber balls (I'm not sure what their actual name is), rubber, or any other material.

I don't think the point is to judge each individual filler to determine whether it actually helps to hit the ball with more efficiency and determine whether to legalize it or not.

If cork filler is legalized, then it might lead to wondering what other fillers should be legalized. Therefore, to me, it's better to simply state that bats should not be allowed to be hollowed out and/or filled with any other 'foreign' material.

Just because a corked bat may not lead to an advantage doesn't mean that it should be legalized.

You're probably right that simplicity of the rules is a driver here. Easier to ban everything than some things.

I just want to remove the stigma associated with bat corkers. They're treated like that committed some horrific sin, when really they got no advantage.

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And as far as what they did on Mythbsters, they used a previous "sword swinging" machine to swing a bat and they used an air pressure cannon to shoot a baseball.

They corked a bat and had a regular bat...both MLB bats, Louisville Sluggers. They had the ball going 80 MPH and when it hit the normal bat it came off at around 80 MPH on average, when it came off the corked bat it (on average) the ball left the bat at half the speed the ball was traveling (40 MPH).

This seems odd to me because I have always thought that the ball left the bat most of the time at a higher speed of that which the ball was thrown. But then again I've never played in a game with wooden bats, only metal/aluminum.

Wow! Don't tell me you never hit a golf ball with a persimmon head. You really have to hit a baseball with a wooden bat one day - it is a totally different feel. The same holds true with hitting a golf ball - the relative softness of the wood is nice, imho. If distance is not a factor and control is, like a fairway wood off the tee, for example, the persimmon club still has worth.

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Wow! Don't tell me you never hit a golf ball with a persimmon head. You really have to hit a baseball with a wooden bat one day - it is a totally different feel. The same holds true with hitting a golf ball - the relative softness of the wood is nice, imho. If distance is not a factor and control is, like a fairway wood off the tee, for example, the persimmon club still has worth.

I've hit with a wooden bat, in fact every other day in high school we had to take batting practice with wood, but Ive never fielded a ball. I don't know what its like to have line drive come at me at Third off of a wooden bat.

And yes, the feeling is quite nice :D

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I've hit with a wooden bat, in fact every other day in high school we had to take batting practice with wood, but Ive never fielded a ball. I don't know what its like to have line drive come at me at Third off of a wooden bat.

And yes, the feeling is quite nice :D

I'm sure the velocity off a metal bat is much worse. I would imagine playing third base is pretty gruesome with metal bats being used.

Great! I've never hit a baseball with a metal bat and never plan to. ;)

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You're probably right that simplicity of the rules is a driver here. Easier to ban everything than some things.

I just want to remove the stigma associated with bat corkers. They're treated like that committed some horrific sin, when really they got no advantage.

Bat corkers might not have gotten an advantage but they were actively trying to circumvent a well known rule in order to gain an advantage, real or perceived. If they get caught and their public image takes a hit, then that was a risk that they were obviously willing to take. So, I don't really see the need to rush to a bat corker's defense.

Actually I'm not even sure how much grief bat corkers get in the long run. When people bring up Nettles, I hardly ever hear about his rubber ball bat incident. Instead I usually hear about his defense and sometimes about his hr standard for an AL third baseman. Ditto for Sosa and Belle. People often associate Sosa with steroids and bring up how he forgot English at the hearings, or they talk about his hr race with Mcgwire to set the season record, but I hardly hear anyone mention his corked bat incident. If someone mentions it, it's like, "Oh yeah. I had forgotten about that." Ditto with Belle. People always reference his temper/attitude and his hip condition that curtailed his career. I had completely forgotten about Sabo until I just googled corked bat.

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Bat corkers might not have gotten an advantage but they were actively trying to circumvent a well known rule in order to gain an advantage, real or perceived. If they get caught and their public image takes a hit, then that was a risk that they were obviously willing to take. So, I don't really see the need to rush to a bat corker's defense.

I'm more rushing to the defense of the records, not the person. I think they were dumb to break the rules, and even dumber to break the rules to gain a 0% advantage. But no one should go around saying Sammy Sosa hit some number of extra homers because of a corked bat - if anything he might have lost homers.

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