IFOs (Identified Flying Objects)

Have you ever wondered if someone has been seriously injured from a piece of a broken bat flying at him during a baseball game?  I do every time a bat gets broken.  I was watching a game recently with my brother, Nick, where a bat broke and the barrel traveled directly at relief pitcher Javier Lopez.  Lopez had to jump over the bat to avoid it.  I asked Nick if he knew of anyone who was seriously injured by broken bat pieces.  Without hesitation, he said, “Google Steve Yeager.”  Yeager, a former Dodger, was playing in a game against the Padres in September 1976.  He was in the on-deck circle when the batter’s bat shattered.  A piece hit Yeager in the neck, piercing his esophagus.  He had to have nine pieces of wood surgically removed from his neck.  Because of his injuries, he invented the catcher’s throat protector that hangs down from a catcher’s mask (not all players use this, but they should, especially you, Eli!).  More recently, in September 2010, a broken bat piece struck Cubs outfielder Tyler Colvin in the left upper chest.  The splintered bat reportedly struck Colvin just inches from his heart and jugular vein. Geez!  That’s pretty scary stuff right there!  And players aren’t the only ones affected.  In August 2007, a fan was hit with broken bat debris in the face, receiving multiple facial fractures, including a broken palate.  These are just a few examples of substantial injuries from broken bat fragments.

Can anything be done to prevent bats from breaking?  A big part of the problem is that more people are using maple bats nowadays than the traditional ash bats.  This is partly due to the fact that Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s home run record using a maple bat, and guys decided that if Barry could do it with a maple bat, they could, too (silly guys).  Studies have shown that maple bats do not hit balls any further than ash bats, and an MLB committee found in 2008 that maple bats were three times as likely to break in multiple places than ash bats.  So outlawing maple bats might help.  However, baseball is extremely resistant to any type of enforced change, so this probably won’t happen any time soon.  Bat manufacturers are now required to track the breakage record of different types of bats.  They also put dots on the bats to show how straight the wood’s grain is.  The straighter the grain, the more durable the bat.  If I was a player, I would definitely be very selective when choosing a bat, both because balls don’t travel as far off of a broken bat, and I would hate to be responsible for causing serious injury to anyone, even accidentally.  Two guys trying to capitalize on this problem have come up with a process where you cryogenically freeze a bat and then bring it back to room temperature.  They claim that these bats are 26% stronger than regular bats.  Maybe someone needs to develop a new bat material that hits effectively but won’t break (any inventors out there who want to strike it rich??).

As far as protecting fans from bat debris (and stray balls), there have been suggestions of putting up more plexiglass shields or netting.  But MLB owners have been extremely resistant to changing the game-watching experience.  There have been fan lawsuits from injured fans that have been lost because owners site the fine print on your ticket that states, “Holder assumes all risk and danger incidental to the game of baseball.”  But should more be done to protect us?  What do you think?  Until stricter safety standards are enforced, my best advice right now would be pay attention to the action so that you don’t end up getting hurt.

Now, on a much lighter note, on to the spit counts.  I have three for you today:

August 15th

Giants:

–         Huff 2

–         Bumgarner 2

–         Sandoval 1

–         Schierholtz 1

–         Belt 1

–         Wilson 1

Braves:

–         Gonzalez 6

–         Constanza 5

–         Bourn 3

–         Hudson 2

–         Prado 1

–         Heyward 1

Game Spit Master General = Gonzalez at 6 spits

Huff and Bumgarner tied for the Giants with 2.

That’s a total of 26 spits during a 2 hour and 50 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 6.5 minutes (the lowest spit count average to date).

Gonzalez is another machine gun spitter.  He spat four times in rapid succession.  I’m wondering what led to the extremely low spit count for this game (about half of normal).  Was it because the score was so close and they were concentrating rather than spitting?  Did the stupid tomahawks and war song chants throw them all off their spitting game?  I forgot how much I hate that tomahawk chop and chant!!

August 16th

Giants:

–         Fontenot 5

–         Sandoval 4

–         Stewart 4

–         Casilla 3

–         J. Sanchez 2

–         Ross 1

–         Mota 1

–         Wotus 1

–         Bochy 1

–         Huff 1

Braves:

–         Bourn 11

–         Gonzalez 5

–         Uggla 2

–         Constanza 2

–         McCann 2

–         Prado 2

–         Delgado 1

–         Jones 1

–         Kimbrel 1

Misc.:

–         Umpire 1

Game Spit Master General = Bourn at 11

Fontenot led the Giants with 5.

That’s a total of 51 spits during a 3 hour game for an average of 1 spit every 3.5 minutes.

So we’re back to normal levels with the spit counts.  Guess they are getting used to that stupid chant.  Most of Fontenot’s spits were into his batting gloves (another souvenir I’d rather not touch).  One of Uggla’s spits was a huge brown solid wad that just kind of fell out of his mouth as he walked off the field.  Come on, guy.  Don’t you realize you are on camera and this is TOTALLY DISGUSTING??

August 17th

Giants:

–         Sandoval 10

–         Cain 6

–         Unidentified Trainer 2

–         Whiteside 2

–         Ross 2

–         Cabrera 1

–         Huff 1

–         Lincecum 1

–         Keppinger 1

–         Bat Boy 1

–         Bochy 1

–         Fontenot 1

–         Runzler 1

–         Affeldt 1

Braves:

–         Bourn 10

–         Constanza 3

–         Lugo 2

–         Jones 1

Misc.:

–         Umpire 1

Game Spit Master Generals = Sandoval and Bourn each at 10 spits

That’s a total of 47 spits during a 2 hour and 50 minute game for an average of more than 1 spit every 3.5 minutes.

Jair Jurrjens, the Braves pitcher, did not get caught spitting the entire game.  Hats off to him.  Please take note, spitting pitchers.  Several high-performing pitchers DO NOT SPIT!!  Note that in this game, Matt Cain spat less than half as much as he did in the August 12th game where he set the new record.  Why?  I have two theories on this.  August 12th was a day game, and it was much more hot and humid.  Maybe that causes him to spit more.  Also, Cain got a haircut (or more like a buzz job) between the two games.  Maybe short hair causes you to spit less?  I’ll have to study this one more closely.  Tim Lincecum does spit a lot after all (even when he’s not pitching).

I’ll end today with some closing comments on this Braves series.  Has anyone else almost had a heart attack the past three days??  The first two were soooooo close.  I’m really proud that my boys could stay that close to the Braves with all of the injuries they’ve had.  I was relieved to see Jonathan Sanchez perform so well before he got injured and taken out of the game on Tuesday.  Hopefully he’s back in good shape for us.  And yesterday, I was yelling so loud at the TV during the bottom of the ninth that I have a sore throat today!  They almost gave it away!  But thankfully, they held on.  Did any of you notice Constanza of the Braves lick his bat on two occasions this series?  What possible function could this provide?  Healing the bat’s wounds after it hit a ball foul?  It looked like he licked the bat specifically where the ball had hit it.  I’ve heard that some guys have a very close relationship with their bats, but this is just nutty!!  And my poor boy, Eli!  He did a face plant sliding into second base yesterday and ended up scraping up his beautiful face!  I’m sure the boys in the dugout gave him endless grief about that.  I hope he’s OK – he ended up leaving the game due to dizziness (I have to admit this fact made me giggle).  One last Braves game tonight with Timmy on the mound.  We have to win to even up the series (and to keep my 7-3 away prediction alive!).  You can do it, boys!  GO GIANTS!!

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