Sports fans love excitement.
Sports fans love excitement.
Whether it is a home run in baseball, a high-scoring offensive game in any sport, big hits or touchdown plays in football, dunks and alley-oops in basketball and fights during hockey games. The fans pay their money for a ticket and they want to be rewarded for it.
So that made the decision by the Arkansas Activities Association to switch from aluminum bats to composite bats not exactly a favorable one, I imagine.
Composite bats are still metal bats, but they are designed with a smaller sweet spot and are supposed to act more like a wood bat. This move was caused by just how powerful aluminum bats have become. The regulations are becoming more lax, allowing the sweet spots to grow.
While this sounds like a more enjoyable baseball game with more balls being sent over the fence, it was also dangerous.
The ball was coming off the bat at such a ridiculous speed that it would even be dangerous to major-league players. Heck, a ball off a wooden bat can cause significant damage just 60 feet away on a hard-hit ground ball.
So players’ lives were being put at risk, not just at the pitcher’s mound, but also to the infielders and the coaches in the coaching box.
That is what caused the switch to composite bats, which is lower offensive numbers that do not come at a cost of injuries.
Midway through the high school baseball season, I followed up what coaches had to say about the new bats. Plain and simple, the four coaches I talked to all said the same thing — it was harder to score runs.
But they did not say it was a bad thing. They just said it changed the way they coached a little bit. It brought out more bunting and smarter baserunning. It also put an emphasis on quality pitching as well, something that was lost in the shuffle with the old aluminum bats.
The only problem some of the coaches had was the fact that they could only buy so many new bats because of budget constraints, and that some of the bats broke down a bit too early. Of course, they were able to send the bat back and get a refund or a new bat. Still, that takes time and the team is down a bat for that period, causing more wear and tear on the other bats.
But as a whole, I think the coaches were happy with the decision. The aluminum bats had gotten to the point where hitters could have a bad swing at a very good pitch and turn it into a double with how big the sweet spots were.
That is not baseball, that is a video game.
I liked what the bats did to the game this year. Granted I was not here for last year’s season, so I only have this year to go on. But I saw plenty of close, exciting games that kept me — and hopefully the fans – on the edge of their seats throughout the season, including an extra-inning championship game between Watson Chapel and White Hall.
The only concern now is how long until the manufacturers of the bats start to widen the sweet spot and make it a more offensive bat just like they did with the aluminum bats.
Justin Rust is a sports writer at The Commercial. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.