Aluminum V. Wooden Baseball Bats

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Kelly Thomer
Sports History
Why Aluminum Bats should be Banned from the NCAA

Crack! That was the sound of our nation's pastime in the early days of baseball. For nearly 125, years the wooden bat was used in every level of baseball. In Tom's River, New Jersey, the little league World Series is held every summer. Ping! This is the only sound that a spectator will hear during one of those baseball games. What happened to the old-fashioned crack of the bat? The wooden bat has been used in professional baseball since the game's establishment in 1864. An aluminum bat is more dangerous than a wooden bat due to the advanced technology of the aluminum bat, but offers a greater impact to a ball than a wooden bat could. For college ball players hoping to make it to the majors, they should be using the equipment required by the MLB in order to be the most prepared. Also, it makes it harder for scouts to determine how a player will perform under different conditions. This is why I believe the NCAA should play with the same standards as the MLB. The baseball bat controversy has been lingering over amateur baseball since the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) allowed the use of aluminum bats for the first time in 1974 (Adelson). Every year there is another injury to a pitcher as a result of the aluminum bat due to its exit velocity. The exit velocity of a ball plays a key role in determining the level of risk of injury. It is defined as the speed of the ball off the bat. The standard exit velocity of an aluminum bat at the sweet spot is nearly 105 mph. That is nearly fifteen mph faster than any wooden bat. "Andrew Sanchez, a Cal State Northridge pitcher had his skull fractured by a ball hit by an aluminum bat" (Adelson 5). Sanchez later sued the NCAA and Louisville Slugger, one of the two makers of the high-powered aluminum bat. Louisville Slugger remarked, "Sanchez should have known that the high-powered bats increased the risk of injuries to pitchers" (Adelson 5). Although the aluminum bat increases the risk of injury, all sports have some level of risk. In an observation by Baum Bat research, within the lapsed time of .1332 seconds, a pitcher could not move fast enough to duck one inch, raise his glove four inches, or even move his shoulder four inches. This pitcher only suffered a broken jaw and a concussion (Research 16). Baum research also shows that sixty percent of balls hit by aluminum bats arrive in less than .375 seconds, while only five percent of balls hit by wooden bats get to the pitcher's mound in the same amount of time. There are two key factors that contribute to a more powerful bat; balance point and weight. Obviously, the lighter the bat, the faster it can be swung. "Since a bat acts as a lever when swung in a game, a balance point closer to the knob allows hitters to move the barrel of the bat faster through the swing" (Adelson). The balance point of a wooden bat cannot be adjusted because it is not hollow. On the contrary, an aluminum bat is hollow and the balance point can be manipulated by the manufacturer resulting in a more powerful bat. The aluminum bat has also played a role in injury to the pitcher's arm. Young pitchers are starting to develop curve balls and other breaking pitches for the reason that the aluminum bat makes it easier for the batter to hit a fastball. Their bodies are not developed enough to begin throwing pitches that involve a snap in a wrist or elbow. These young players think that the regular straight fastball is not enough, because the hitters are capable of hitting the fastball with the high-powered aluminum bat. This fact is the direct result of many injuries in young pitchers arms that could be career ending. "Aluminum bats eliminate talented yet underdeveloped pitchers from the system" (Research 9). Researchers in Japan have observed an additional problem with the aluminum bat. The resounding ping of the aluminum bat in Japan is actually...
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