Friday, December 15, 2006

New Louisville Slugger Announced

This is probably of greater importance to baseball fans than to Moneylaw readers but bat technology has always fascinated me so I found it interesting that the Louisville Slugger Company has just announced a new model bat. This innovation is the result of years of research and development. The most important step was finding the right wood. Switching from the traditional ash, LSC found a strain of tree in North Georgia with exceptional qualities. According to the press release, the character of the wood -- strength, durability, balance, insight (I said it was special wood, right?) -- is as much the result of genetic characteristics as it is environmental conditions in the formative years of the tree's growth.

The wood is then seasoned for several years. In this process the wood is unique in its capacity to absorb those chemicals that strengthen it while repelling those that do not. This has been a problem in bat chemistry for years. The woods chosen often tended to absorb treatments that created only temporary and superficial strength. This why they often cracked when meeting a ball at any point other than the sweet spot. These fundamental structural problems have puzzled "bat techs" for years.

Nearly as important as the wood is the production process. The emphasis is on producing the most balanced bat possible. In the lathing process, it is necessary to cut against the grain at times. This is unheard of in the annals of batology. In fact, most bats are cut with care placed on never ever going against the grain.

Aside from balance, strength, durability, and insight, the bat is forgiving. Its large sweet spot rewards hard working players, not simply those who are puffed up as a result of steriod use.


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