A “Big Hit” for the Future of Baseball?

March Madness. We love it. We live it. We breathe it. We drive our families and friends crazy with talk of brackets and upsets. For three weeks in March, it’s the ONLY thing that matters, until it’s over. At that point, the annual, “Oh no, what now?” feeling kicks in.

What’s next is baseball. Spring training is already in full swing. Opening day of the regular baseball season is just two weeks away and it’s time to start planning your fantasy league and dreaming of that breakout offensive season that no one else picked.

This year, there might be a LOT of increased offensive production if what I’m hearing about a new baseball bat is true. Baden Sports–you may be more familiar with their basketballs–has recently introduced a new baseball bat called the Axe. This is the first major change to the shape of a bat in over a century.

I spoke with the company and one of the first things they told me was that Ted Williams says in his book, “The Science of Hitting,” that swinging a baseball bat is like swinging an axe. Apparently, an axe handle guides your hand into a proper position that fits flush at the bottom and increases leverage through the swing–something that a traditional baseball bat doesn’t do.

Baden says: “The Axe bat promotes an ergonomically correct grip, a better fit, a less restricted swing and greater bat speed through the hitting zone.”

Who’s using it and what are the results?

Rollins hit a deep solo home run over the left field fence with the new Axe baseball bat from Baden. (AP/Kathy Willens)

Since this is such a new bat, big league players are just being introduced to it. It’s been approved for use in MLB games in 2012, so the company is currently working with players at spring training. They can’t “name names,” but they will say that players from every club are taking at least practice swings and becoming familiar with the bat.

Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies hit a monster home run–his first of the season—on March 12 against the Pirates with the Axe bat. He’d been practicing with it, and his first time to the plate with the Axe someone from the dugout yelled, “Let loose with that bat, Jimmy!” He did, and hit it DEEP over the left field wall.

That was the first “official” home run, but I’ve done some digging and found a reliable report that among others, Oakland As first baseman Brandon Allen enjoyed his first outing with the Axe. On opening day of spring training, Allen hit a grand slam, a two-run double and drove in the go-ahead run in the 9th … all with the Axe. 7 RBIs. Not bad.

So maybe there’s something to this new Axe baseball bat. Time will tell, but since my basketball team didn’t even make March Madness this year, my tears are close to drying and I’m getting a jump start on putting a miserable basketball season behind me.

Baseball will fill my sports cravings over the next 6 months, and I’m paying close attention to what’s happening with the Axe bat.

MLB week of 4/12

Now that Major League Baseball is entering its second week of play, EJSIC can highlight three things to keep an eye on throughout the next 7 days.


1. Boston Red Sox vs Minnesota Twins – The Twins open their new stadium, Target Field, today on ESPN at 4 PM EST. But not only do you have those festivities to look forward to, it should be some great early-season baseball. Carl Pavano and Jon Lester will be dueling one another today. Is there any doubt who will be the first to homer at the new park? It has to be hometown boy Joe Mauer, right?

2. The .500 club – We all know no person is ever going to hit .500 for a season, but four players are at or above that mark after six games. It’s fun to see how long they can keep it going. The players include Martin Prado (Atlanta), Edgar Renteria (San Francisco), Miguel Cabrera (Detroit), and Vlad Guerrero (Texas). Placido Polanco for the Phillies is close with an average of .481.

3. Weekend series – Quite a few Friday-Saturday-Sunday series are intriguing this week. Tampa Bay travels to Boston for three games, Florida faces Philadelphia, the Mets take on the Cardinals on ESPN’s Sunday Night game, and the Braves host the Rockies over the weekend. All four series have potential for great baseball.

Baseball Admits Playoff Scheduling Part of Pity Marketing Strategy

Bud Selig tries desperately to ignore a question at today's announcement.

Bud Selig tries desperately to ignore a question at today's announcement.

In a shocking move today, Major League Baseball Interim Commissioner for life Bud Selig announced that the bizarre scheduling of this year’s Playoffs was not merely blatant ineptness as most observers believed, but part of a marketing strategy aimed at making NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman seem marginally less inept.

”Gary and I have been friends for a long time,” Selig said today. “We have had a number of long discussions about how frustrating it is running the most obscure ‘major’ sport in North America and this is sort of what we came up with.”

When discussions first arose between Selig and Bettman about how to make “America’s Pastime” more obscure than hockey, even Selig wasn’t sure it would be possible.

“It was right after 1998,” Selig said. “We had just had the big home run chase. People were flocking to ballparks. And everybody on Earth knew the names of our big stars. I told Gary I wanted to help, but that it might not be possible.”

The key to the plan, it turns out, was to OVER-expose the league. Major League Baseball managed to get six games a week on ESPN. It seemed baseball was about to boom, but exactly the opposite happened.

“Once people really saw how horrible our product was, especially when we had to clean up the steroids, the slide was almost inevitable,” Selig said.

But as fewer and fewer fans watched baseball on TV, the one part of the season that seemed difficult to kill was the Playoffs.

“It’s just like any other sport,” Selig explained, “especially ones like ours with an insufferably long, nearly meaningless regular season; people tend to tune back in for the Playoffs in big numbers. And with our ridiculous economic structure that ensures that the teams from the biggest cities make the Playoffs, we knew it would be hard to get people to quit watching.” Continue reading