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Opinion: It's Time To Remove Metal Bats

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(Posted at hittingpic

Baseball is a great game.

The version that is played at the college level isn't.

That is not to take anything away from LSU's exciting run to a national championship. There is nothing wrong with LSU. It is the sport that is fatally flawed.

It is flawed by the use of metal bats.

Aluminum and exotic compounds that are used to make jet aircraft have no business being used to make baseball bats.

Some will argue that the metal bats bring "excitement" to baseball. What they mean is the bats bring offense.

Lots of offense.

Average number or runs scored in an LSU game this season: 12.2.

That's not unusual at any level of college baseball. An average of 14.5 runs were scored in Northwestern State -- a lower level of Division I -- games this season. In NCAA Division III, an average of 15.6 runs were scored in Louisiana College games. In NAIA, an average of 14.3 runs were scored in Louisiana State University at Alexandria games.

Heck, why not just eliminate pitching and toss the ball up there with a pitching machine?

The difference between the college game and the professional game -- where wooden bats are used at all levels -- is striking.

College baseball generally is considered equal to somewhere between Class A and Class AA in the minor leagues.

In the Class A Carolina League this season, there have been an average of 9.1 runs scored a game. That's a full three runs a game fewer than what was scored in LSU games.

In the Class AA Texas League -- considered a hitters' league -- an average of 9.9 runs has been scored a game. That's still two runs lower than in LSU games and nearly five runs a game less than scored in NSU games.

Wood bats were removed from the college game in the 1970s as a cost saving measure. Since metal bats don't break nearly as easily as wood bats, the new bats lasted longer and colleges saved money.

Lots of money.

Don Purvis was the baseball coach at Bowling Green State in Ohio when the transition was made. Years ago, he told me that the last year wooden bats were used, Bowling Green spent $5,000 bats. The next year, the school spent $500 on metal bats.
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Obviously the cost has gone up considerably since then, but the percentage of savings would be roughly the same.

That means it would cost a lot of money for colleges to switch back to wooden bats.

That doesn't mean it can't be done.

Sporting goods companies fall all over themselves to sign colleges to equipment contracts. Think any company would want to be known as the "official bat supplier of LSU baseball?"

Second, the major leagues could be approach. Major League Baseball already helps supply wooden bats to summer leagues. They should -- in the interest of more accurate scouting -- be willing to do the same with colleges.

Finally, it is hard for me to accept the argument that colleges are poor when baseball coaches are making around $500,000 a year. That's simply insane money -- far more than a Class AA or Class AAA manager makes in pro baseball.

Removing metal bats would simply make college baseball a better game.

The pro scouts would the grateful.

The pitchers would be beyond grateful.

We don't need inflated offensive stats to help the college game.

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