Says Easton, whose firm does manufacture a graphite composition bat, "A composition bat won't yet outperform aluminum, but it has the potential to be a lot better. Our tests show that our composition bat holds up very well. Graphite is an option, not a replacement for wood."
Such debates will only grow more heated as non-wood bats creep closer to the big leagues. For example, if aluminum bats are more potent, are pitchers endangered by shots back through the box? "If some of these major leaguers used aluminum, someone would get killed," says California Angel hitting instructor Deron Johnson. Easton spokesman Jim Darby counters by saying. "Incaviglia, Cory Snyder and all those guys used aluminum bats in college, and no one got killed."
What about a metallic assault on the game's sacred record books? "If aluminum gets to the majors," says Boston's Wade Boggs. "I'm certain there will be another .400 hitter." Says Easton, "Baseball is obsessed with records, and pro baseball people keep telling us that with the aluminum bat all records would be ruined. But what about the way records are changed by the differences in ballparks? How can you compare records of someone playing in Fenway Park and the Astrodome?"
Finally, will aluminum breed a new generation of artificial hitters, juiced up by a sweeter sweet spot? The Dodgers' Hines believes, to the contrary, that the aluminum bat has made for better hitters. "The first thing in hitting is having the confidence that you can hit," he says. "The aluminum bat gives you that. Kids now don't grow up with the fear of hurting their hands. It's made a tremendous difference, especially to kids living in the north. With a wooden bat, it's nearly impossible to hit on cold days until mid-May, and by then most college and high school seasons are over. With an aluminum bat, you can hit no matter what the temperature. Between the cost factor and the weather factor, aluminum bats are allowing a lot more kids to play. Isn't that good for the game?"
Ping. Get used to it.
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