Monday, December 10, 2007

Nanny state update: Chicago legislator wants to ban aluminum bats for kids under 13

An article in this morning's Daily Herald gives horrifying details about a high school pitcher's facial injury that resulted from a line drive from a ball hit from a aluminum bat. The ballplayer was 17 at the time.

State legislator Robert Molaro (D-Chicago), wants a ban on aluminum bats for kids under 13--and the coaches or parents who ignore the ban "during a recreational baseball game" face a $500 fine.

Would this ban cover me? Several times last summer I lobbed some pitches to 11 year-old Little Marathon Pundit. She was using an aluminum bat. Would my homeowner's policy cover a $500 punishment?

Some believe that baseballs come off aluminum bats with more velocity. Possibly. What's for certain, is that little-leaguers 13 and under don't hit the ball with as much force--they're well, littler.

From the Daily Herald:

Several local little league directors, coaches and parents say such a ban is unnecessary and that there's no difference between the safety of a wood bat versus that of a metal bat.

But proponents say wood bats are safer because the ball doesn't come off as fast or go as far as those hit off metal bats. Wood bats also are better for teaching children the game, they say.

Phil Rizzo, who runs Little League District 13 -- covering 18 leagues in Bartlett, Hanover Park, Streamwood, South Elgin, Carpentersville and other suburbs -- wants coaches, players and their families to speak out against a state ban on metal bats.

"If we didn't believe it was safe, we would have gone to wooden bats a long time ago," Rizzo said.

A North Dakota high school organization bans the use of metal bats. Pennsylvania recently legislators rejected such a ban, but the New York City Council passed a bill prohibiting the use aluminum bats in high school games.

Interestingly, aluminum bats are used exclusively in NCAA college baseball, much to the frustration of Major League Baseball scouts, who are forced to ponder--"What kind of hitter is this guy going to be using a wooden bat?"

This is not Molaro's first brush with nanny-ism--Early this year he introduced a bill to ban the goose liver delicacy foie gras in Illinois.

For more on Nanny-ism, I recommend the book, Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children.

To comment on this post, or to vote in the Pajamas Media straw poll, click here.


Anonymous,  12:48 PM  

Since wooden bats can break and splinter, constituting a danger, perhaps we should just ban recreational baseball completely.

Let the little darlings sit on the couch. It will be safer, as long as they aren't fed too much and become obese. Can't have that either.

muon,  1:47 PM  

Illinois has one of the world experts on the science of baseball. Dr. Alan Nathan at UIUC has extensive documents including information on wood vs. aluminum bats. If you follow the many links, the science indicates that current legal aluminum bats do not present a significant additional hazard compared to wood bats.

Skeeter 3:38 PM  

The interesting this about this post is the abuse of the term "nanny state."
There is serious nanny state legislation out there. However, too often it is just a label that people toss on legislation that they don't like. Want to beat your kids? Child protection legislation is "nanny state." Want to pollute? Anti-pollution legislation is nanny state. Want to choose one kind of bat that might be dangerous? The legislation banning that bat is "nanny state."

This isn't nanny state legislation. This is child-protection legislation. It might be well founded or it might lack any foundation, but there is a massive difference between stuff like this and true "nanny state" legislation and labeling this as "nanny state" detracts from the appropriate use of the term.

When people apply that lable to "stuff they don't like" the weight of the term is gone. It goes from a legit criticism of a legislative practice and turns into nothing more than a buzz word.

47th Ward,  8:04 PM  

Well said Skeeter.

Gish,  8:04 AM  

Admittedly I find baseball bat legislation sad but I agree with Skeeter. Nanny-state should only really be applied to legislation that protects you from yourself. Since we consider children to lack any sort of legal standing to make responsible decisions then it is really as Skeeter says, child protection. On the other hand, banning aluminum bats altogether would qualify as 'Nanny State'.

John Ruberry 1:29 PM  

How dangerous is a line drive from a pre-teen? Or even a thirteen year old?

Skeeter 1:36 PM  

Maybe the bats are dangerous.
Maybe not.
I have no strong opinions.

However, there is a massive difference between true nanny state legislation -- things like the government deciding that cooking oil must be fat free -- and legislation designed to keep kids from hurting each other.

Real nanny-state legislation exists. But this isn't it.

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