Thursday, October 27, 2011

U.S. Federal Innovation 27: Better Baseball Bats 

Baseball Bats
As Major League Baseball (MLB) moves into tonight's World Series game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers, it's fitting to honor the U.S. Forest Service's recent role in helping produce safer bats. Up until 2008, when MLB began collaborating with the Forest Service, multiple-piece failures (MPFs) were a growing problem with the wooden bats used in baseball games. "Changes in bat geometry, wood species used to manufacture bats, and inconsistencies in the grain of the wood itself..." had led to growing MPFs in the MLB. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin began analyzing bats used in MLB games and videos of MPFs to determine the cause of the problem. The Forest Service's analysis identified several bat design issues, including the modern tendency to taper large barrels to thin handles, the corresponding use of lower density wood to meet weight limitations, and over-drying of the wood used to make bats. Based on the Forest Service's work, MLB implemented limits to bat geometry dimensions, wood density restrictions, and wood drying recommendations. The limits led to a 50% reduction in MPFs in the 2010 season.

Source: U.S. Forest Service

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