General Slowpitch Softball Forum Discuss slowpitch topics that don't fit in to other categories here!

Wall St. Journal Article on Doctored Bats


This is a discussion on Wall St. Journal Article on Doctored Bats within the General Slowpitch Softball Forum forums, part of the Softball Forums category!
I thought this deserved it's own thread. Even features Buggs in there. I'm sure he had a hardon when he ...




Sponsored Ads
Register to remove these ads.

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-20-2005, 07:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
Max Johnson
Guest

 
Posts: n/a
Default Wall St. Journal Article on Doctored Bats

I thought this deserved it's own thread. Even features Buggs in there. I'm sure he had a hardon when he got Evil Sports mentioned in there...good for him. He wasn't completely honest when he said "I didn't want to be associated with black-market stuff" as this post illustrates.

Anyway, thanks to Whateva for originally posting it over here...



Hard Questions

On America's Other Diamonds,
Players Try Doctored Bats;
How Bobby Buggs Got an Edge

By CONOR DOUGHERTY
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
May 20, 2005; Page W1

Above the country's ballparks, the cloud of scandal darkens. The biggest names on the diamond have been suspected of steroid use. Major-league ballplayers from Seattle to Tampa Bay have gotten 10-day suspensions for using banned substances. And in Georgia, Ronald Priester was slapped with one of the biggest suspensions of all -- a full year.

Ronald who?

Mr. Priester is an amateur softball player, and during a game last year in Lawrenceville, Ga., an umpire confronted him as he ran in from the outfield, saying he suspected one of the team's bats had been modified to make it hit balls farther. Such bats are illegal under the rules of the of the game's overseer, the United States Specialty Sports Association. Mr. Priester -- he says the bat wasn't his but took responsibility for it -- refused to turn it over to the ump for analysis, and was banned from association-sanctioned games.

"Everybody on the team was using it," says the 35-year-old former steelworker. "I just took the fall."

It turns out performance-boosters aren't limited to the big leagues. From weekend squads made up of hypercompetitive executives to ambitious travel teams sponsored by local merchants, some softball players are resorting to underhanded methods. They're mailing their bats and checks to small-time entrepreneurs with Internet aliases and machine shops -- so-called bat doctors. "It's amazing the lengths teams will go to win an $18 trophy," says Joe Morice, a player and manager of Cassie's Italian, a men's softball team in Fairfax, Va.

Bat doctors have devised various procedures to give players that age-old satisfaction of launching a ball over the outfield fence. One method, called "end loading," involves removing the cap on the end of the barrel and adding weight, shifting the bat's balance to give it more momentum when swung. Bat doctors may also use a lathe to shave the inside of a bat's barrel to make it springier, in effect giving the ball an extra boost on contact. Then there's the painting routine -- taking a high-performance bat that isn't allowed for league play and disguising it as a regulation model.

On a chilly May night at the Connecticut Sportsplex in North Branford, men with nicknames like Kookie, Mouse and Bump gathered for twilight games. Hit after hit soared more than 300 feet over the top of the outfield's 16-foot fence. Jim "Jimmy Dogs" Consiglio, the team's sponsor and its part-time catcher, guessed there were a half-dozen doctored bats in his game, though he wouldn't say who might have used them or from which dugout. "Do I care? No," says Mr. Consiglio, 53 years old, whose team lost the game. "It's hard to fault guys for being human."

Regulators and bat-makers are starting to play hardball. Manufacturer Easton Sports recently sent letters to about a dozen suspected bat doctors, telling them they could be held liable if a ball hit by a juiced bat hurts a player. This year, the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) will start on-field bat checks at big tournaments. (Officials will use a $2,500 machine that compresses the bat's barrel to measure the wall's stiffness.) The USSSA has posted the names of a handful of ex-bat doctors on its Web site, and it is threatening indefinite playing bans -- most bat doctors are also players -- for those who keep practicing.

Corked Bats

Bat doctoring is nearly as old as stealing second. Baseball and softball players have long attempted to give wood bats extra speed and pop by hollowing them out and filling them with a lighter substance, usually cork. In 2003, major-league slugger Sammy Sosa was found to be swinging a corked bat.

Softball-bat doctoring follows a different trajectory. As pro baseball players continue to use wood, most softball players have switched to aluminum or composite bats. For the past few decades, the drive to doctor these bats was limited: The bats generally hit farther than wood, and gear manufacturers catered to sluggers by making increasingly powerful models. By the beginning of this decade, though, softball bats had become too powerful -- often resulting in longer games with inning after inning of home runs. Last year, the ASA responded by telling makers to limit how fast a regulation softball could fly off their bats in a lab test -- its "98 mph rule." After years of better performance, bats were effectively dampened.

Players sought an edge from guys like Robert Russell. An entomologist by day -- in softball circles, he's known as Bobby Buggs -- Mr. Russell says he got into bat doctoring by accident a few years ago. Disappointed with the performance of a new $500 bat, he hit the garage, removed the bat's end cap and examined its innards. "I'm a very diagnostic individual," he says. He had the barrel shaved down at a machine shop, and discovered it hit balls farther than an unmodified bat did. He posted his findings on the Internet, and was "flooded with requests" to modify other players' bats.

At his height, Mr. Russell says he was getting orders from across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. (He wouldn't say how many bats he worked on or how much he charged, but other bat doctors say the biggest practitioners can fill as many as 30 orders a month at about $100 per bat.) The USSSA contacted him two months ago and told him to stop. He did, he says, and now he is focusing on his own softball and apparel line, Evil Sports. "I didn't want to be associated with black-market stuff," says Mr. Russell.

A broader bat-doctor crackdown may prove challenging. About 14 million people play slow-pitch softball, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, with one-third of those involved in informal pick-up games. The rest play in leagues that may be regulated by one of a number of bodies -- including the ASA, the USSSA, the National Softball Association and the Independent Softball Association. Each group sanctions bats and balls that others may not allow. Easton Sports, for example, makes eight bats that are legal for the USSSA and the ASA, and a ninth allowed for USSSA but not ASA play.

'Not Smoke and Mirrors'

While softball regulators and bat makers don't know how many doctored bats are out there, the problem has become serious enough that the ASA recently commissioned a study on it. Research by Washington State University, which is set to be presented to softball manufacturers on Sunday, showed that balls flew off modified bats from two to eight miles an hour faster, which roughly translates to an extra 15 feet to 55 feet of distance. "This is not smoke and mirrors," says the study's co-author, WSU engineering professor Lloyd Smith.

Many players find the whole idea baffling. In Brooklyn, N.Y., members of the co-ed Williamsburg Softball league can be seen wearing goofy uniforms -- on the Enid's bar team, it's pink shirts and socks -- and sometimes start drinking beer before the first pitch. The league has few equipment rules, and its commissioner, 28-year-old Brooklyn architect Joe Godsy, says he wouldn't think of seeking an edge with a tampered bat. "I figured that was for a complete lunatic," he says. Adds Mitch Torres, a 37-year-old UPS driver who plays for the league's Pourhouse team: "I'm a fanatic, but I wouldn't do anything extreme like that."

Umpires say bat doctoring is getting hard to detect, as bat doctors become increasingly sophisticated. For Brad Crerar, the ASA umpire who officiated Mr. Consiglio's game in Connecticut, the larger worry is that players will get hurt when balls are hit with extra velocity. "It puts everybody on the field at risk," he says. (Injury statistics are inconclusive: U.S. emergency rooms reported about 113,000 softball injuries in 2003, down more than 10% from 2001, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.)

At least some players are backing away. In Chehalis, Wash., Jeremy Witchey said he paid $60 to $90 to bat doctors in North Carolina, Washington and California. The sales manager at a truck-accessories company says he rarely used the bats in games, and says he sold his bats after seeing another hitter smack a line-drive into a pitcher's kneecap. Still, as a pitcher himself, Mr. Witchey says he sees how easy it is to rationalize using one of the bats. "I got to stand out there and get drilled" as opponents hit his pitches hard, he says. "It was kind of like, if I can't beat 'em, join 'em."




  Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-2005, 08:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
Max Johnson
Guest

 
Posts: n/a
Default

Incidentally, this was posted on the Old Scout board. Not sure if NY Times is doing a similar article or if this should have been referencing the WSJ but here it is.



Interview By NYC Times
Posted by Ron Priester on May 15, 2005, 3:41 am
70.34.186.20

I was interveiwed this week by the New York Times. It should come out this coming Friday edition. I was interveiwed because I was the only player that has been suspended for a Tampered bat ever in USSSA. The associations are cracking down on the bat doctors and the article covers all angles. Everyone in softball should try to read this and understand the epidemic involved in our sport. Please take a good look at all of the data the New York Times has accumulated on this subject.
Just to clear the record the event in question was a winter rules USSSA sanction tournament in Ga. We through together a National Caliber B Team to play for some swings that weekend. We all had not swung since early Fall and very few of us had our bats from our sponsors. Most of us shared a Old Miken Viper that was given to someone on the team from US Vinyl. The tournament was 2 HR and most of us were playing Super B in Georgia. We were in fact druming folks and were better than all teams in the tournament. A player from another team approached the umpire and suggested since we were passing the bat back it must be illegal. The tournament director not knowing the Miken Viper because of it's age was not sure whether it was tampered or not. Since I was the spokesperson of the team it came down to my decision on letting them send the bat to Miken. Instead we packed our stuff and left. I did swing the bat along with 17 other individuals including a USSSA director playing on our pick up team. In the end I received a suspension letter from USSSA three weeks later for a 1 year period. I have since then served this suspension and have played again in Ga. I still feel like I was railroaded because I run Elite Softball Association and compete for business with USSSA. Since no other player on my team or no other player borrowing the bat on other teams was not disciplined. I was not seen swinging the bat nor did I own the bat.

During my 12 year career I have not been an angel and I have done several things to help me play at the National B and A level. I have won several World and National Tournaments and have enjoyed all aspects of the game. I started my own association to help prevent the monopolizing of USSSA in Ga and I have ran a 501 C3 Softball Club and have generated well over $50000 to give to teams not fortunate enough to raise the funds. Please do not think I am a total jerk for explaining this in such detail and I am once again saying I have not always been natural in all aspects of my game but I was just writing this for people to know the real story from my side in case the journalist from NYC gets carried away.

I tried to explain my case to every board member in the State of Georgia and in the National Office when the incident occurred. No one would ever talk to me. I had lawyers contact them on my behalf without response. Finally I just traveled outside of the state with the Cherokee Brick softball team and played everything except USSSA. My teammates were the only support in the end.

Anyhow enough BS from me. Check out the article it is supposed to carry alot of good info.

Ron Priester #21
Elite Softball Club/Association

As if any upper level softball player wouldn't know that the Miken Viper he's swinging and passing down the line might not be the same bat as the Miken Viper log that they released years ago before they struck gold with the Velocite. Expecting us to believe that is just a slap in the face. Not to mention "very few of us had our bats from our sponsors"...what softball player doesn't have another bat in their bag to use that they would all pass down a Miken Viper. 'Oh well...all 10 of us forgot our bat bags so I guess we all have to use this piece of crap Miken Viper'.
  Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-2005, 09:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
msc942
Guest

 
Posts: n/a
Default

That is the one thing I never got about painted bats. Why would you paint your Ultra to be a Viper or a Velocite 2? I mean everyone knows they aren't great bats and they aren't even close to an Ultra. The original Velocite has a thicker taper than the Ultra's so those aren't tough to figure out. Every painted OG Freak I've seen has had the color in the work Freak be slightly off. I've seem some dead on Freak 98's but the sound should give it away immediately.
  Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-2005, 09:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
sparky
Guest

 
Posts: n/a
Default today's edition of wall street journal...5/20/05

got mine...doubt i'll read anything else in it...
  Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-2005, 09:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
Max Johnson
Guest

 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: today's edition of wall street journal...5/20/05

By the way...since when did an exterminator become an entomologist? If I step on a cockroach does that make me a scientist?
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-24-2005, 06:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
Max Johnson
Guest

 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: today's edition of wall street journal...5/20/05

Another link for the article

The article is discussed here
  Reply With Quote
Old 01-21-2008, 03:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
SFZ Legend
 
sparky's Avatar

 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Name: sparky
Location: double wide
Posts: 16,161
Default here it is...

i been looking for this article... i was pitching for dogs when this article came out... ;o]


On America's Other Diamonds,
Players Try Doctored Bats;
How Bobby Buggs Got an Edge
By CONOR DOUGHERTY
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
May 20, 2005; Page W1

Above the country's ballparks, the cloud of scandal darkens. The biggest names on the diamond have been suspected of steroid use. Major-league ballplayers from Seattle to Tampa Bay have gotten 10-day suspensions for using banned substances. And in Georgia, Ronald Priester was slapped with one of the biggest suspensions of all -- a full year.

Ronald who?

Mr. Priester is an amateur softball player, and during a game last year in Lawrenceville, Ga., an umpire confronted him as he ran in from the outfield, saying he suspected one of the team's bats had been modified to make it hit balls farther. Such bats are illegal under the rules of the of the game's overseer, the United States Specialty Sports Association. Mr. Priester -- he says the bat wasn't his but took responsibility for it -- refused to turn it over to the ump for analysis, and was banned from association-sanctioned games.

"Everybody on the team was using it," says the 35-year-old former steelworker. "I just took the fall."

It turns out performance-boosters aren't limited to the big leagues. From weekend squads made up of hypercompetitive executives to ambitious travel teams sponsored by local merchants, some softball players are resorting to underhanded methods. They're mailing their bats and checks to small-time entrepreneurs with Internet aliases and machine shops -- so-called bat doctors. "It's amazing the lengths teams will go to win an $18 trophy," says Joe Morice, a player and manager of Cassie's Italian, a men's softball team in Fairfax, Va.

Bat doctors have devised various procedures to give players that age-old satisfaction of launching a ball over the outfield fence. One method, called "end loading," involves removing the cap on the end of the barrel and adding weight, shifting the bat's balance to give it more momentum when swung. Bat doctors may also use a lathe to shave the inside of a bat's barrel to make it springier, in effect giving the ball an extra boost on contact. Then there's the painting routine -- taking a high-performance bat that isn't allowed for league play and disguising it as a regulation model.

On a chilly May night at the Connecticut Sportsplex in North Branford, men with nicknames like Kookie, Mouse and Bump gathered for twilight games. Hit after hit soared more than 300 feet over the top of the outfield's 16-foot fence. Jim "Jimmy Dogs" Consiglio, the team's sponsor and its part-time catcher, guessed there were a half-dozen doctored bats in his game, though he wouldn't say who might have used them or from which dugout. "Do I care? No," says Mr. Consiglio, 53 years old, whose team lost the game. "It's hard to fault guys for being human."

Regulators and bat-makers are starting to play hardball. Manufacturer Easton Sports recently sent letters to about a dozen suspected bat doctors, telling them they could be held liable if a ball hit by a juiced bat hurts a player. This year, the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) will start on-field bat checks at big tournaments. (Officials will use a $2,500 machine that compresses the bat's barrel to measure the wall's stiffness.) The USSSA has posted the names of a handful of ex-bat doctors on its Web site, and it is threatening indefinite playing bans -- most bat doctors are also players -- for those who keep practicing.

Corked Bats

Bat doctoring is nearly as old as stealing second. Baseball and softball players have long attempted to give wood bats extra speed and pop by hollowing them out and filling them with a lighter substance, usually cork. In 2003, major-league slugger Sammy Sosa was found to be swinging a corked bat.

Softball-bat doctoring follows a different trajectory. As pro baseball players continue to use wood, most softball players have switched to aluminum or composite bats. For the past few decades, the drive to doctor these bats was limited: The bats generally hit farther than wood, and gear manufacturers catered to sluggers by making increasingly powerful models. By the beginning of this decade, though, softball bats had become too powerful -- often resulting in longer games with inning after inning of home runs. Last year, the ASA responded by telling makers to limit how fast a regulation softball could fly off their bats in a lab test -- its "98 mph rule." After years of better performance, bats were effectively dampened.

Players sought an edge from guys like Robert Russell. An entomologist by day -- in softball circles, he's known as Bobby Buggs -- Mr. Russell says he got into bat doctoring by accident a few years ago. Disappointed with the performance of a new $500 bat, he hit the garage, removed the bat's end cap and examined its innards. "I'm a very diagnostic individual," he says. He had the barrel shaved down at a machine shop, and discovered it hit balls farther than an unmodified bat did. He posted his findings on the Internet, and was "flooded with requests" to modify other players' bats.

At his height, Mr. Russell says he was getting orders from across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. (He wouldn't say how many bats he worked on or how much he charged, but other bat doctors say the biggest practitioners can fill as many as 30 orders a month at about $100 per bat.) The USSSA contacted him two months ago and told him to stop. He did, he says, and now he is focusing on his own softball and apparel line, Evil Sports. "I didn't want to be associated with black-market stuff," says Mr. Russell.

A broader bat-doctor crackdown may prove challenging. About 14 million people play slow-pitch softball, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, with one-third of those involved in informal pick-up games. The rest play in leagues that may be regulated by one of a number of bodies -- including the ASA, the USSSA, the National Softball Association and the Independent Softball Association. Each group sanctions bats and balls that others may not allow. Easton Sports, for example, makes eight bats that are legal for the USSSA and the ASA, and a ninth allowed for USSSA but not ASA play.

'Not Smoke and Mirrors'

While softball regulators and bat makers don't know how many doctored bats are out there, the problem has become serious enough that the ASA recently commissioned a study on it. Research by Washington State University, which is set to be presented to softball manufacturers on Sunday, showed that balls flew off modified bats from two to eight miles an hour faster, which roughly translates to an extra 15 feet to 55 feet of distance. "This is not smoke and mirrors," says the study's co-author, WSU engineering professor Lloyd Smith.

Many players find the whole idea baffling. In Brooklyn, N.Y., members of the co-ed Williamsburg Softball league can be seen wearing goofy uniforms -- on the Enid's bar team, it's pink shirts and socks -- and sometimes start drinking beer before the first pitch. The league has few equipment rules, and its commissioner, 28-year-old Brooklyn architect Joe Godsy, says he wouldn't think of seeking an edge with a tampered bat. "I figured that was for a complete lunatic," he says. Adds Mitch Torres, a 37-year-old UPS driver who plays for the league's Pourhouse team: "I'm a fanatic, but I wouldn't do anything extreme like that."

Umpires say bat doctoring is getting hard to detect, as bat doctors become increasingly sophisticated. For Brad Crerar, the ASA umpire who officiated Mr. Consiglio's game in Connecticut, the larger worry is that players will get hurt when balls are hit with extra velocity. "It puts everybody on the field at risk," he says. (Injury statistics are inconclusive: U.S. emergency rooms reported about 113,000 softball injuries in 2003, down more than 10% from 2001, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.)

At least some players are backing away. In Chehalis, Wash., Jeremy Witchey said he paid $60 to $90 to bat doctors in North Carolina, Washington and California. The sales manager at a truck-accessories company says he rarely used the bats in games, and says he sold his bats after seeing another hitter smack a line-drive into a pitcher's kneecap. Still, as a pitcher himself, Mr. Witchey says he sees how easy it is to rationalize using one of the bats. "I got to stand out there and get drilled" as opponents hit his pitches hard, he says. "It was kind of like, if I can't beat 'em, join 'em."
sparky is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-21-2008, 05:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
Member

 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 74
Default

kinda like can't beat them join them I HATE THAT THINKING!!! It does not make it right.
Juice9 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-21-2008, 05:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
Star Player

 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Name: Jeff
Location: Wherever the fuck i wanna be
Posts: 6,793
Default

Originally Posted by Juice9
kinda like can't beat them join them I HATE THAT THINKING!!! It does not make it right.

I kind of like the inconclusive part of the article - until you I see hard facts (stats) to show more injuries or more deaths, I will just assume it's not a huge factor in the outcome or nature of the game.

Sure the ball goes faster, as it does in Tennis today and farther in Golf - we justr have to adjust
jeff Mets Fan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-21-2008, 06:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
Member
 
sbnut73's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 218
Default

Originally Posted by jeff Mets Fan
I kind of like the inconclusive part of the article - until you I see hard facts (stats) to show more injuries or more deaths, I will just assume it's not a huge factor in the outcome or nature of the game.

Sure the ball goes faster, as it does in Tennis today and farther in Golf - we justr have to adjust
no no no. this is about the ball going faster because of illegally doctoring bats. way way different issue

and it is almost three years old now. BB posted on softballfans.com yesterday or today, someone took offense and brought this out to slap him in the face with it.

I guess if Britney spreads them going in and out of her car again, I'd look at the picture, but still this is old news.
__________________
"Men are going to get killed today, Sue, and Iím going to kill them. Do you understand that?"
sbnut73 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT. The time now is 05:05 AM.