There's no cryogenics in baseball! Icy technique seen strengthening wooden bats

on Wednesday, August 10, 2011

There's no cryogenics in baseball! Icy technique seen strengthening wooden bats  Over the past few decades, companies have shifted how they manufacture bats, resulting in an uptick in the number of splintered wooden bats in professional games. According to a published report, two entrepreneurs are working to fortify wooden bats as they endeavor to reduce the number of breaks that occur during Major League Baseball games.

Splintered wooden bats are a common casualty in many of today's MLB games. While it may seem like an insignificant problem, splintered bats often fly onto baseball fields and into stands where fans are seated, potentially endangering both players and game attendees. 

The rise in splintered bats did not go unnoticed by MLB officials, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. 

MLB officials have been working with scientists at a lab in Madison, Wisconsin, since late 2008, according to the news provider. Scientists at the Forest Service Laboratory have studied the cause of the broken bats, using more than 2,000 bats broken during MLB games to ascertain what is causing them to splinter so frequently. 

Forest Service researcher Dave Kretschmann asserts that a manufacturing defect called slope of grain is at fault. Kretschmann and his colleagues contend that the grains on bats' handles are not straight. Though slope of grain issues are supposed to be caught during inspections, they have gone unnoticed, he said.

Nevertheless, two MLB fans, Jim Cortez and Greg Kendra, have developed a method they affirm can help fortify wooden bats. Cortez, a Chicago-based entrepreneur, and Kendra, a real estate agent who lives in Denver, use icy temperatures to help strengthen wooden bats.

Cortez and Kendra came up with the method after watching countless MLB games, noting how splintered bats seemed to become an increasingly common occurrence. Wooden bats are cryogenically frozen at minus-310 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 24 hours; they are then allowed to slowly return to room temperature. The duo asserts that the method can help make bats more than 25 percent stronger than untreated ones.

Their results have been corroborated by an independent, university-affiliated laboratory. In a patent filing, Cortez and Kendra peg their cryogenically-treated bats as 26 percent stronger than standard models. 

They have filed paperwork with the MLB to have the bats certified for use, but they have not heard back from officials, they told the WSJ.

Professional hitters have become stronger over the past few decades - though performance-enhancing drugs are often cited for that increased strength. Lance Berkman of the St. Louis Cardinals currently leads the National League with 28 homers this season, while the Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista leads all American League players with 33 home runs, according to ESPN. 

 

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