Building a Better Bat - NYTimes.com
Geege Schuman stashed this in Baseball
"He had a major league player, Jack Hannahan, return a shipment of bats. He found that the grand old bat of baseball had been passed by as competitors introduced technological advances that would echo the aluminum and composite designs that players had grown used to seeing when they were younger.
“What our competitors were doing opened my eyes. Players wanted something new and something that used new technology,” Hillerich said.
So, three years ago, he set out to reinvent the Louisville Slugger. The new Louisville Slugger MLB Prime still relies on ash and maple from forests in New York and Pennsylvania, but the process of making it differs nearly every step of the way, although in many ways the new models rely on some of the same ideas competitors have been implementing for several years.
Some major leaguers — Buster Posey, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Evan Longoria — last year used bats that incorporated some of the changes, but the completely overhauled version made its debut Sunday.
In recent years, a surge in boutique manufacturers creating their own niches has taken bat making in two directions:a return to its roots, with an emphasis on craftsmanship over automated manufacturing, and a high-tech approach.
Louisville Slugger has taken both from Column A and Column B. One small company, New Jersey-based Akadema, was, if not the first business, one of the first to market Amish craftsmanship."
Having a super-hard finish is desirable, too. Read on:
It is amazing how much thought goes into the design of a baseball bat.
You can replace bat with surfboard and Louisville slugger with Clark foam and get the same exact story.
I imagine you could say the same thing for golf clubs, too.
But not Jai-Alai equipment.
The cesta, a Spanish word for basket, is made from reeds found exclusively in the Pyrenees Mountains and the frame is made from steam-bent chestnut.
The pelota is the hardest ball of any sport; it is roughly 3/4 the size of a baseball and is harder than a rock. The core consists of virgin de pola rubber, is layered with nylon and hand-stitched with two goat-skin covers.
Jai-alai is played on a special court called a "cancha". There are three walls, one made out of granite because it is the only material that can withstand the impact of the ball.
A fascinating sport with an even more interesting place of origin: Basque Country. Today in North America, it is played almost exclusively in Florida.
Okay, I have to ask. Why almost exclusively in Florida?
Didn't know myself! Had to look it up:
"In another parallel to horse racing, the sport survives in Florida only because of legislation that allows it to be subsidized by other forms of gambling"
Jai Alai is in steep decline.
"At this state of the game, however, its obvious that jai alai is merely a ‘means to an end’ under Florida gaming law. The historical and tourism significance of the state’s parimutual facilities—particularly horse racing and jai alai—was a means to placate social conservatives and religious fundamentalists who oppose more widespread gambling. For this reason alone, jai alai will survive in Florida for now but this reprieve is tenuous at best. With governments at all levels increasingly desperate for revenue and sociopolitical attitudes toward gambling changing (albeit gradually) more liberal laws governing casinos in the state might not be far off. Horse racing isn’t quite as vulnerable due to its larger fanbase and at least nominal coverage by the mainstream sports media, but a scenario where jai alai finally outlives its usefulness to gaming companies is not hard to envision.
"The sport will survive on some level, however, and there have been a number of amateur jai alai frontons to open up in Florida, Connecticut and elsewhere over the past few years. As a spectator sport—let alone one that professionals can make a living from—jai alai may soon go the way of velodrome bicycle racing."
I'm sure Jai Alai is the preferred sport of Florida Man.
Jai Alai athlete might even be his secret identity.