A quiet revolution has been unfolding in the batter’s box this spring, and I didn’t even realize it until just now.
The revolution involves a new bat design called the Axe, which is made by a company I’d never heard of before called Baden Sports. The bottom few inches of the Axe are slightly flattened, with an knobless off-center end, like an axe handle, which supposedly provides better bat control and leverage.
The Axe has been around for about two years now, and several articles have been written about it, but I didn’t learn about it until yesterday, when reader Jason Hillyer sent me this article about the Axe being used by the Marietta College baseball team in Ohio. It has lots of basic info on the Axe — recommended reading.
The article says Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins has been using the Axe “full time” this season, so I went looking for photos from the past few weeks. I did find two shots of him swing the Axe (that shot on the right, from a spring training game, shows him hitting the first professional home run ever hit with the Axe), but I also found several pics of him using conventional bat, plus a dugout shot of him carrying a bunch of standard-knobbed bats. So the “full time” Axe claim is apparently a bit of an exaggeration. (The article also says Matt Kemp of the Dodgers and Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox have “experimented” with the Axe, but that sounds like a needle/haystack situation, so I didn’t go hunting for photos of them.)
I also found this promotional video about the Axe, featuring ex-MLBer Jay Buhner:
Hmmm, between this and the rise of bat knob decals, the unassuming little end of the bat sure has been getting a lot of attention lately. Growing up, I remember a few players whose bats had no knob, or very truncated knobs. But this asymmetrical knob is something new. If it catches on, it could mark a major alteration to something that’s been basically unchanged for over a century.
ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday afternoon, my latest ESPN piece is about a guy who’s reluctantly selling some intriguing sports artifacts from his youth.
Uni Watch News Ticker: With Mo Rivera’s season apparently over, and maybe his career as well, we may have seen the last of No. 42 on the diamond, aside from April 15. … Whatever your thoughts on Chief Wahoo, I hope we all agree that this promotional material is in really poor taste (from Ray Barrington). … Jim Mullin has written a series of blog posts on the worst CFL uniforms. … This slideshow provides our first non-Photoshopped look at Peyton Manning in a Broncos uniform. … Ron Roza tipped me off to the new “guess the logos” iPhone app. … Here’s a weird one: When the Brooklyn Dodgers had their 1955 championship parade, it looks like they wore shower slippers (good spot by Greg Stamps). … Looks like Dexter Manley was wearing shinguards under his socks. As I’ve said before, I’m amazed more football players don’t do this (from Marc Mandin). … AC Milan’s new number and NOB font is pretty weird. “Also, it turns out the design between the black and red stripes is an Italian flag motif,” notes Jeremy Schneider. … “Here’s a pretty lengthy (16 minutes) video about Ole Miss’s indoor practice facility that has a lot of uniform and equipment info,” writes Michael Martin. “There’s one part toward the end where TE Jamal Mosley expresses a desire to wear the all-gray uniforms every game.” … Is UGA planning to wear pink helmets and/or uniforms this fall? Could be. … Another college baseball team wearing a tequila sunrise variant: Seton Hall (from Andy Hyman). … Also from Andy: We’ve all seen those Sears NFL bedsheets and blankets from the 1970s, but until now I’d never seen these pants. That sound you just heard in the background was Brinke Guthrie drooling. … Whoa, check this out: Some Little Leaguers in the Kansas City area wore 1918 throwbacks, complete with henley pullovers and hoop socks (big thanks to Brian McDavitt). … New away kit for Swansea City. “The red and green are for the Welsh flag,” says Jon Forbes. … Here’s what the USA weightlifters will be wearing in the Olympics. “They’re made by Risto Sports, a small custom weightlifting shoe and singlet maker,” says Kevin Mueller. … Here’s a photo of Andrew Luck wearing a blank Colts jersey for his head shot (from Todd Usher). … The L.A. Galaxy are inviting fans to design the team’s 2013-14 third kit (from David Lassen). … New uniforms on tap, including gold helmets and gold pants, for Southeastern Louisiana (from Christopher Mycoskie). … Mavs gave out blue T-shirts to everyone attending last night’s game against the Thunder. A nice gesture, except it made the crowd look like they were dressed in Thunder colors. “Drives me f’n crazy!” says a very entertainingly enraged Timothy P. Obrien.