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Metal vs. Wood: Consistency needed

Posted by Trish18 on May 17, 2007 6:34:10 AM


[]Toby Guillette is's Endurance Online Community Specialist. He is an outdoor-adventure-sports aficionado specializing in ultra-running.




In response to Trish's post, the New York City Council banned metal bats in high school baseball

because of a belief that such bats increase the risk of injury. The

decision to change the rules for one geographical location has

potential repercussions that may provide an unfair advantage to

athletes elsewhere who aren���t forced to use wooden bats. It is paramount that consistency is restored throughout the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSH) in order to preserve the integrity of the sport. 




In the endurance-sports world, competitors abide by the many rules and regulations set forth and enforced by larger governing bodies. The International Cycling Union (UCI), which sets industry standards governing the rules for competitive cycling,

enforces a rule relevant to the metal-versus-wooden bat debate. The UCI

does not have rules for which materials may be used for bicycles

because there is minimum mass limit of no less than 6.8 kg (~15 lbs).

With a baseline rule established for weight, a rider with greater

financial resources will not have a significant advantage over a rider

with inferior sponsorship. Thus the focus shifts to the individual

rider���s level of fitness, skill and team strategy.




In baseball, the NFSH has an equivalent role to the UCI. And similar

to bikes, bats have design restrictions too. In high school baseball in

the United States, the bat is not allowed to be more than 2 5/8

inches in diameter and 42 inches in length. The difference between

inches of length and ounces of weight must be no greater than 3. An

example of this is that a 34-inch bat must weigh at least 31 ounces.




With these restrictions in place, there is predictability in

performance allowing athletes to showcase their skills on a level

playing field. Thus, the high school athlete that has what it takes

will stand out to scouts and be recruited to play at the

college level. It has already been determined, by the recent court

ruling, that metal and composite bats produce faster, harder and longer

hits than wooden bats. If New York or only a few places ban metal bats,

then these players will be at a disadvantage. The resulting discrepancy

in performance across the nation will skew statistics and the integrity

of the sport will be diminished. There must be a uniform ruling -- if

this is going to happen in New York, it must also hold true for all of

high school baseball.



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