In the world of baseball, maple baseball bats are the go-to choice for the top hitters in the professional leagues. Maple baseball bats became the bat of choice after the current MLB-career-home-run-leader Barry Bonds set his records using them.
Why Maple Baseball Bats Became Popular
Prior to Bonds making maple baseball bats the top bat in the MLB, most batters actually swung bats made of ash. While maple bats do have some controversy surround them, MLB players might not ever be able to go back to ash bats; with the invasive emerald ash borer devouring the insides of ash trees in Canada and in half of the United States.
Why Ash Bats are Dropping in Popularity
Unfortunately, the ash borer beetle was first found in Detroit over 10 years ago. The beetle is able to survive in cold climates and the beetle can quickly mature in ash trees that have been stressed by environmental conditions and droughts. The beetle is bright green, like an emerald and eats the tree beneath the bark. Before anyone knows it, the tree dies from the inside out.
When people bring firewood from cities to campsites, the emerald ash borer comes with it and this has caused the beetle to spread rapidly. Since the beetle made its American debut in Detroit, it has spread throughout the northern states, where bat companies like ours get ash for their bats.
Protecting Maple Trees
The possibility that ash bats could become a relic of the past makes maple baseball bats even more attractive. Unfortunately, there is an invasive species that likes to eat maple trees, the Asian longhorned beetle. It does seem that scientists will be able to stop the Asian longhorned beetle. Since the maple trees in the US are relatively safe, maple baseball bats are in no danger of becoming an instinct part of the traditional game.
There are efforts to get the emerald ash borer out of the precious ash trees. There have been attempts to kill the beetle. Currently, an insecticide is available, but it is not cost effective on a large scale. Homeowners could use it to treat the trees in their yards, but it does cost over $100 per tree. This is not a realistic way for ash tree farms to protect their commodities for baseball bat manufacturers.
Alternative Ways to Destroy the Ash Borer
A few years ago, there were Chinese wasps that were released in a few controlled areas, but wasps have not proven to be overly successful. Instead, foresters who manage ash tree populations have been baiting the emerald ash borer to infest trees and then destroy them. This has proven to be one way to get rid of a group of beetles rather quickly. In many cities, ash trees have been cut down and destroyed to remove the threat. They have been replaced with different species of trees.
The emerald ash borer may have sealed the fate of the maple baseball bat as the choice for the present and future. Without ash trees, ash bats will fade from the existence of the game. There will most likely be a time when no player will have experienced swinging an ash bat.
Keeping Maple Bats from Breaking
When it comes to the ability of maple baseball bats to stay in one piece, researchers have recognized that the manufacturing standards that were set for maple bats used ash wood standards. This has caused manufacturers like M^Powered to analyze the settings to reduce breakage. We strive to use maple that has reached a certain density and has straight fibers that are less likely to break under stress.
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