Hey AN. You may or may not remember me. I used to be the guy that ran this place until the concept of AN sprouted into 300-plus other sites designed on this model.
I'm baaaaaaack. Well, at least for today because Nico is busy showing more A's around his school. Or something like that.
Any way, I wanted to write something today to ask a question that I kind of already know what the answer will be. But I'm persistent like that so I'm going to ask the question regardless. Should baseball finally jump into the 21st century and start using materials other than wooden bats?
Some of you know this already but I follow a few other sports as well. Baseball is a love and passion for me but I can't help but compare the sport to others and in some ways it just falls short. I love hockey. I love cycling. What do both of these sports have in common? For one thing they've shifted the materials in which the guys who play the sport perform with. In hockey, the sticks have evolved from wooden sticks to aluminum to everything from carbon fiber to titanium to kevlar. Does this make Bobby Orr's accomplishments any less remarkable compared to Niklas Lidstrom? In cycling, the bikes pro riders ride on have gone from steel bikes to aluminum to carbon fiber. Eddy Merckx will always remain the best bike rider ever. Even in sports like golf and tennis, the chosen weapon that the pros use. So in watching baseball and seeing how much the pitching has seemingly been dominating the hitting once again in 2011, post-steroid era, I was thinking a way to bring some fun and offense back to the ballpark might be to look at those splintering wood bats that MLB is still running out there.
Yes, yes, I know it's nuts to even suggest it because what happens to all those storied records that baseball has had for years and years. Wait, didn't the PED era in baseball kind of make a lot of those storied records moot any way? Nostalgia died when steroids first entered the sport. I mean, look, single season homers, career homers? They're all gone. McGwire, Sosa and Bonds saw to that. At least if the material of the bat were to change, the edge that these pros are playing with would be out in the open and not hidden with grown men shoving needles into their buttocks.
I love baseball history and think it's a great part of what makes baseball special. The nostalgia around the sport is second to none. We all long for the simpler times at the ballpark and yeah the crack of the bat changing to the ping of the bat isn't really ideal for keeping that nostalgia alive but remember it is really true that chicks dig the long ball. And so do casual fans who might not be as willing to slap down cash to come see a 1-0 pitching duel. I personally think that kind of game is thrilling but I know a good number of people who aren't baseball fans who think that kind of game is less exciting than a nil-nil soccer match (which I happen to also thoroughly enjoy as long as there are some great opportunities).
I don't really think that there is any chance that this will ever happen. Baseball is about as glacial as they come when it comes to change. And quite frankly, there's always been something a little off about watching a college baseball game. The crack of the bat is something that is sorely missed whenever the College World Series rolls around.
I love baseball as a sport but I'm always looking for ways to improve it as evidenced by the fact that I've written a few times here about the possibility of someday getting an automated strike zone (the inconsistent umpiring is still one of my least favorite aspects of baseball - I swear its contributed to more gray hair on my head than my kids). And sure I'm going to have almost everyone call me nuts. But hey, I do it out of love.
I'll be running the game thread today. The game starts at 12:35. See you then!