MLB utilizing U.S. Forest Service to curb its broken bat problem

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Major League Baseball has had a broken bat problem for quite some time now, and it has quietly been taking steps to remedy the issue. The latest course of action is described in this PopSci article by Shaunacy Ferro:

More than half of all baseball bats sold to major-league teams last year were maple, and the MLB wants to make sure every batter stepping up to the plate isn’t wielding a ticking wooden time bomb, so they’ve teamed up with U.S. Forest Service scientists to figure out how to make maple bats safer.

The scientists found that the more the cut of the wood strayed from the original grain, the more likely the bat was to shatter, The New York Times reports. The baseball league altered regulations to require that the grain in the bat not deviate from the original grain of the wood by more than 3 percent, as well as adding minimum densities and weight-to-length ratios. Black ink was added to the wood to make the grain easier to follow.

The article adds that the new regulations have cut the broken bat rate in half. All of this is good news — broken bat shrapnel shards are potentially lethal.

Javier Baez, D.J. LeMahieu have disagreement about sign-stealing

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Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.

LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.

There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.

The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.