Mike Bianco’s passion for wood vs. metal isn’t nearly as strong as his passion for interest in college baseball vs. apathy.
The Ole Miss coach is concerned that too much tweaking to the college game could lessen the immense popularity into which it’s blossomed.
“You look and see that Ole Miss has averaged 7,000 a game for two years in a row now. Why would you want to change that?” Bianco asked.
Metal bats were introduced to the college game in 1974 as a cost-saving measure. Some who help govern college baseball have expressed concerns over the length of games and believe metal bats, which lead to more offense and run-scoring than wood bats, are the culprit there.
College baseball won’t change to wood bats next season – and may not ever – but an NCAA rules committee has decided to modify metal bats to make them less lively. That’s not the first time that’s been done.
“We seem to talk out of both sides of our mouth,” Bianco said. “In one breath we talk about what a great game college baseball is and how it’s grown. We talk about the facilities, the attendance records and the games on TV.
“Then you have the baseball purists, who say there are too many runs being scored. To me it’s a no-brainer. You’ve got to use aluminum bats.”
Another popular argument for wood bats is that it would make college players more prepared when they make the jump to professional baseball.
Wood bats are used at the pro level and haven’t negatively impacted scoring, some say.
“The major leagues have the best players in the world from ages 20-40,” Bianco said. “My guys go on to be engineers, school teachers and insurance salesmen. They’re not the best players in the world. Put a wood bat in their hands, and they’re not going to score like the major leagues. They’re not the same people.”
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal