Get with the old times

When fans attend a professional baseball game, one familiar sound all will hear is the crack of the wooden bat.  Often, when you hear older fans telling stories of their first experiences with the game, you hear them talk about the thrill of when they first heard the crack of the wooden bat.  Wooden bats were used when baseball came into existence and are still a staple in the sport today. Unfortunately, all players don’t get to use them. Players involved in Little Leagues, Babe Ruth Leagues, Sandy Koufax Leagues, Connie Mack Leagues, Mickey Mantle Leagues, American Legion, high schools and colleges, along with several other amateur organizations, still use aluminum bats.  We’ve all read or seen stories of the injuries that players, most specifically pitchers, have suffered because of the force of which the baseball comes off the aluminum bat.  I’ve gone into detail about them in this space before.  However, the previously mentioned leagues continue to look the other way.
The argument league officials continue to use is money.  Unquestionably, it costs more to use wooden bats because of the obvious fact that they break. In these leagues, players can buy a $250 aluminum bat and be set for the season.  But, how can you put a price on safety?  How pitchers dodge vicious line drives off aluminum bats is beyond me.  And some aren’t so lucky.  Sadly, it seems like more fatalities may be the only thing to force the banishment of these bats, or should I say weapons.
Then, there is the argument of the purity of the game.  Every time I switch over to a college game on the TV,  I swear the score is in the 16-11 range.  You know it’s not baseball when a ninth-place hitter is hitting opposite field home runs off the handle of their bats.  Covering the Twisters and the New England Collegiate Baseball League, it’s no surprise when a power hitter comes from college and can barely hit the ball with a wooden bat.  Too many players, I feel at least, get a false sense of security by using aluminum.  One league that has got it right is Tri-State Baseball, which switched over to wooden bats this season. This move has received nothing but rave reviews from all involved.  The games are quicker, with lower scoring and strategy.  Bunts, stolen bases, and moving runners over is more important than ever.  The sit-around-and-wait for the three-run homer doesn’t exist.  And, as an old school baseball fan, it’s a joy to see.  When I’m old and gray (hopefully, I make it that far), I’m not going to tell my grandchildren about hearing the ping, ding or cling of an aluminum bat.  I’ll reminisce about the crack of the wooden bat. The way baseball should be.  Winsted prevailed in the season-opener, 4-3, over Thomaston when Dave Lumpkin scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the fifth.  The game lasted only one hour and 30 minutes.  “I love (the new rule). It’s 100 percent better,” Winsted head coach D.J. Reese said. “The games are faster and it’s more natural baseball.  With metal bats, this game would probably have needed three hours to finish — a luxury we didn’t have because of the darkness.”  After several Tri-State teams raved about wooden bats after using them in the Stan Musial Tournament last season, the league decided eliminating aluminum bats was the way to go.  “The games are going to be more fun to watch,” Reese said.  “Before we would rarely hit and run or steal any bases.  Now we have to because runs are going to be harder to come by.”

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