Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tyler Colvin: Inches from Death

There was a scary moment today during the Cubs-Marlins game. While running down the third base line, Tyler Colvin was stabbed in the chest by a flying broken bat.

If the bat had stabbed Tyler Colvin in his jugular, then he might not have made it off the field alive. That bat was also  rather close to his eyes.

The bat in question was made of maple wood, which is more likely to splinter than an ash bat. I did some digging online and found this Yahoo sports article, "Baseball at breaking point over maple bats," written by Jeff Passan a while back. It starts:

Someone’s going to die at a baseball stadium soon.

Might be a player. Could be an umpire. Possibly even a fan.
It almost was a coach.
The scar on Don Long’s left cheek still puffs around the edges, fresh enough that it looks like a misplaced zipper instead of the mark of someone who lived too hard. Like every scar, this one has a story, and it involves a piece of shattered wood, about two pounds heavy, that tomahawked 30 feet before slicing through his face.

Passan's article compared ash and maple bats in terms of safety and performance. It basically found that their performance is similar but ash has a big advantage in terms of safety. But if you're thinking it's a good idea to ban maple bats, that won't be easy. Here's another excerpt from Passan's article:
So when in 2006 MLB broached the issue of maple bats during the collective-bargaining negotiations, it did not go well. The union wasn’t receptive to a unilateral ban and didn’t budge at the thought of at least imposing specifications to lessen the likelihood of breakage.
Here's hoping the MLB bans maple bats before they injure another person.

UPDATE 9/20: As of this writing, MLB continues to let maple bats be used, but they have shut down every YouTube video of this incident. Glad to see MLB has their priorities in order.


lisa :) said...

If they can't ban maple bats, you would think they could at least put some guidelines on how narrow the handles can be or have some set ratio of barrel to handle width. I imagine part of the reason we're seeing more and more bat explosions is because the physics involved with how narrow the hitters like the handles to be.

I was watching that game and it was really scary to see - hope Colvin recovers okay and hope MLB decides to do something about the issue sooner rather than later. It's frustrating that the organization is quick to jump on changing things like the height of the pitcher's mound but won't take action against a serious safety concern.

Greg McConnell said...

Yeah, it seems like a no-brainer that the MLB and players' union should get together and come up with a solution. But unfortunately it seems that this story has already been moved to the back burner. Maybe they'll address it in the offseason?