Update: If the video is unavailable for you, check out this Deadspin article. I’ll see what I can do about finding something embeddable.
I was driving around all afternoon yesterday, so I was nowhere near a computer when Tyler Colvin, trying to score from third on a ground-rule double by Welington Castillo, was impaled on the left side of his chest by the sharp end of the barrel of the bat after it shattered in Castillo’s hands. Luckily, the bat didn’t make too deep of an impact. As the AP report puts it:
Colvin, 25, was listed in stable condition at a Miami hospital. A tube was inserted into his chest to prevent a collapsed lung. He is expected to remain hospitalized for two or three days, and his promising rookie season reportedly is over.
The bat, as you can imagine, was no small thing. You can see it in the picture to the left. When a two-foot long, 2-pound piece of wood comes flying out of a batter’s hands at upwards of 90 mph (the swing, at least – I’m sure the bat moves slower than that once it leaves the hands) with a broken, jagged edge leading the strike, there may be no more dangerous single item in any major American sport. If a player is struck in the wrong way with one of those, there may not be a lot that can be done.
It may not have happened with Colvin, but, if something isn’t done about it soon, there is a very real chance that something terrible will happen. Of course, I’m not the only person to say this. With the seeming increase in broken bats in the last few years since maple bats became popular, there’s been quite the outcry about the epidemic. Jeff Passan wrote a great piece about the danger back in May. And my friend, Jason, over at It’s About the Money, Stupid!, has been talking about this for a while.
In fact, Jason has been trying to educate everybody about a fascinating product available called the Bat Glove. It’s a simple, cheap fix that can be applied to any bat that has shown to prevent 100% of bat shards from flying down the field. I highly recommend reading Jason’s post about it.
In the meantime, if you don’t believe that these broken bats are a major problem, I’ve compiled a video of about 20 different broken bat plays over the last two years. I’ve chosen these ones mainly because they’re easy to find, not because they’re extra-special. There are many, many more broken bat plays that I wasn’t able to find as easily that aren’t included here. If you can really believe, after watching this video, that broken bats pose no dangers to players, then you’re not watching close enough.
There are others around the web today who will offer their thoughts and possible solutions to this problem. I feel very strongly that Major League Baseball needs to look into this more thoroughly, and the ideas that Jason and the rest of the blogosphere are putting out there are worth exploring. If you have any ideas yourself, please feel free to include them. Let’s hope we don’t have to live through another Mike Coolbaugh incident (or Steve Yeager) before the Commissioner’s Office does something.