SportsEvents Magazine

OCT 2016

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Page 9 of 59

2017 Baseball/Softball Sourcebook 10 because it has been added back, will be more apt to support the growth of the game." New Bat Specifications While baseball is only guaranteed to be included in Tokyo, leaders throughout the baseball community obviously hope that the sport will manage to stay in past 2020 — especially if Los Angeles gets the bid to host the Summer Games in 2024. But the sport's leadership isn't resting on the potential impact of the Olympics. The baseball community is making strides at improving the game, especially at the youth level. One major change coming to baseball is a new youth bat performance specification from USA Baseball, which should impact the long-term integrity of the game. The new USA Baseball bat standard, which starts January 1, 2018, will require all non-wood bats to have a wood-like performance. All organizations under the USA Baseball umbrella have adopted the change, with all new approved bats bearing the USABat licensing mark if permissible for play. "Non-wooden bats have really impacted baseball and it's good for the sport that it's being addressed," said Charles Blackburn, executive director of the National Amateur Baseball Federation. "Current non-wooden bats have caused the bat speed to increase, which causes the impact on the ball to be significantly increased, and allows the batter to swing the bat around quicker. That lets them drive the ball faster. It also lets batters get a hit on the ball in spots like the handle or end of the bat, something they couldn't do with a wooden bat. Because of that, it gets into other potential problems like the pitch count, as players can only play so many innings. So it has had a real effect on baseball. This new specification implemented by USA Baseball should help improve the sport." New Programs and Initiatives USA Baseball also has teamed up with Ma- jor League Baseball (MLB) and Commis- sioner Rob Manfred to grow the game on the youth level. Their collaborative Pitch Smart initiative (, which is now in its second year, works to provide helpful, practical guidelines to parents, players and coaches about fostering long, healthy careers for pitchers and avoiding injuries. "We're hoping to share information like limiting pitches relative to the number of pitches, not only in a game but over a week and over time," Seiler said. "It's also about protecting the athlete and making sure the experience of playing baseball is a good one. Factors like that may appear small but they are impactful and really speak to the total experience an athlete will have in the sport." (See One-on-One on page 7) Play Ball is another collaborative effort with MLB that creates and provides free resources to parents, players and coaches on a range of relevant issues. "It's all free, and it's another huge initia- tive focused on and directed at the amateur community," Seiler said. "We can't stress enough how we want to make the baseball experience even better." Many of the individual baseball or- ganizations around the country are also doing all they can to improve their specific play. To compete with travel baseball, the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC) has altered its events and added USA Baseball

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