Originally Posted On Tomahawk Blog
Once again it looks as if Major League Baseball is going to wait until things get way out of hand before they decide to tackle an issue. Perhaps it will take a congressional investigation to get Bud Selig to take the appropriate action.
In the second inning of Tuesday nights game between the Rockies and Royals in Kansas City, plate umpire Brian O’Nora was struck in the head with a shattered piece of Miguel Olivo’s broken maple bat. With blood rushing down his face, O’Nora rushed to the Kansas City dugout where coaches and players used towels to stop the bleeding. O’Nora was then treated by Royals trainer Nick Swartz before being taken to St. Luke’s Hospital with a small cut on his forehead.
For years players, managers, coaches, broadcasters, and even umpires have expressed their concern that maple bats should be banned before a fan, player or umpire was injured. Well, guess what. Now it’s happened, and they waited too late to make a move.
This issue reminds me of the steroid issue. Most in baseball knew for years that there was a problem with steroids in the game, but they waited until it was too late to do something about it. Commissioner Selig could have done something about steroids long before baseball’s most prized records were tarnished, and he could have done something about maple bats long before somebody got hurt. The worst part of the story is that he still has not made the switch from maple to ash.
The maple bat issue is not a new one. Just last month Selig was quoted as saying that shattered maple bats are "a source of concern for me." The commissioner can’t ban maple bats unilaterally because their use is a term and condition of employment and subject to collective bargaining. However, there has been plenty of time for baseball to discuss the issue with the players union.
It’s doubtful that the union would object to a change. Many players are already making the switch to ash. Olivo made the switch immediately following the incident and used an ash bat for the remainder of the game.
"I’ve broke a lot of bats. I feel so bad for the umpire," Olivo said. "I saw the blood come out and they came out and put a towel on his head. I just worried a little bit."
Kansas City infielder Mike Aviles also said he switched from maple to ash for the rest of the game after O’Nora was hurt. However, Aviles isn’t sure if maple bats should be banned.
"I go back and forth," Aviles said. "Honestly, I don’t want them to get rid of it because I like using maple. I like the option of having both if I want to use it."
Many players like to use the maple bats because they feel like they are better for their numbers. So, perhaps a hitters numbers are more important than the life of an umpire or a 12 year old fan that could possibly take the next shattered bat in the head. Once again Selig is going to wait until something really bad happens before he does anything.
The league has announced that they are going to start running tests on the bats. Meanwhile there are going to be games played every night using the maple bats. There would be no harm in a temporary ban on the bats until these tests are concluded. If the tests reveal that the bats are not too dangerous then bring them back. Selig is taking a huge risk by allowing hitters to use maple bats in the meantime.
This is just another example of the incompetence of the worst commissioner in professional sports. He is more concerned with adding instant replay than he is with the safety of players, umpires, and more importantly, fans.