Our Daily Dread: Sounds like a broken (bat) record?

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AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
Albert Pujols breaks his bat on a ground out to second base during the fourth inning of Tuesday’s Cardinals-Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.

The headline was across the top of the USA Today sports section on Aug. 4: “Baseball is getting a grip on broken bats” (linked here).

The story contends that, according to MLB research, incidence of bats breaking into multiple pieces in 2009 is so far down 30 percent from last year.

“We’re still trying to reduce it even further and we are pleased with the results thus far based,” said Dan Halem, the MLB senior VP and general counsel. “We’re not done yet.”

Bats busting up like balsa wood aren’t done yet, either. You see the last two nights of Dodger games?

The photo above of what Albert Pujols did in Tuesday’s game. Later, when the Dodgers’ Orlando Hudson was grounding out to end the seventh inning, the ball went back to the pitcher, but his broken bat nearly took out second base umpire Adrian Johnson, who ran to avoid getting smacked. The shot on the TV screen before the commercial was of the barrel of the bat sitting in shallow center field.

On Wednesday, the Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez shattered his bat in at least five pieces as Cardinals reliever Ryan Franklin jammed him inside. The grounder to short became an adventure for Brendan Ryan, who first had to sidestep the spinning barrel, field the grounder, and throw Ramirez out at first — but miss a shot at trying to start a double play. He lost a chance of trying to get the far easier putout on Andre Either, which put the game’s tying run at second base. That, in effect, could have changed the outcome of the game (the next two hitters failed to bring him in and the game ended with a 3-2 loss).

In the same USA Today story above, it points out that the sale of maple bats has dropped from 52 percent to 45 percent this season, as far as Louisville Sluggers go. Braves catcher Brian McCann, who still uses maple, responded to the stat that broken bats are down 30 percent this year: “I disagree. They might be down, but I don’t know about being down 30 percent. There still seems to be a lot of bats flying around.”

Seems to be correct.

Seems like no matter what they’ve told players to do — put the label up, stop ordering sticks with thin handles, cut back on maple — it’s not that impressive of a decrease.

You’ve decreased, perhaps, the chances of someone getting seriously injured — again — by a flying shard. But you haven’t eliminated it.

And that seems unacceptable.

No, it is unacceptable.

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AP Photo/Ben Margot
The White Sox’s Paul Konerko shatters his bat on a pitch from Oakland Athletics’ Gio Gonzalez in the third inning of a game on Aug. 15.

== More stories recently:
== A sidebar to the USA Today on the bat manufacturers (linked here)
== Another USA Today piece on how bats are made according to player specs (linked here)
== Another follow up on the development of the Radial Bat (linked here)

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