Baseball and softball season is in full swing and one of the hottest topics this year is the metal-versus-wood bat debate. I thought it was the end of the road for the debate a couple weeks ago when the New York City council overrode a mayoral veto of the bill to ban metal bats. However, the debate is far from over. In fact, it is moving from the field into the courtroom.
Sporting goods companies and organizations that sponsor high school baseball nationwide filed a lawsuit against New York City and its decision to ban metal baseball bats in high school games.
Proponents of the new law say metal bats increase the risk of injury because they cause balls to move faster and don’t allow young players enough time to react. An example of this that is often cited is when a 12-year-old boy in New Jersey went into cardiac arrest after he was struck in the chest by a ball. But an American Legion Baseball study in 2005 found no substantial scientific proof that wooden bats are safer than metal bats.
The Associated Press reported that, “The lawsuit says New York City's law would harm high school players, coaches, schools and bat manufacturers because it would increase costs for players and teams and would make high school baseball less enjoyable and less competitive.” It also contends that the law is unconstitutional because it discriminates against the use of metal and nonwood composite bats without any rational basis.
I can’t make myself believe that a baseball reacts the same off a wooden bat as it does off a metal one. Perhaps a different study would produce varying results. But even if it didn’t – what’s the harm in changing over to wooden bats all the way up? It is how the game was originally designed to be played. It has a pure quality about it. If it does happen to be safer for youth athletes, it’s a win-win situation.
What do you think – should metal bats be banned from baseball?