It astonishes me that nobody thinks this is ridiculous, but before I get into the common sense reasoning behind why this is dumb, let's talk about batted ball speeds and bats.
The basic school of thought behind the "aluminum bats are bad" crowd is as follows:
- The bats allow players to hit the ball harder.
- The bats give the players more reaction time to hit the ball because they are lighter.
The average batted ball speed in major league baseball is 110 mph. Let's replace that with a metal bat, add 10 mph, and take a look at reaction times. It's 60'6" to home from the pitcher's mound.
110 mph ball: 161 ft/sec, .356 sec RT
120 mph ball: 176 ft/sec, .343 sec RT
What the anti-aluminum crowd is saying is that .013 second is the difference between life and death. In case you're wondering, a blink takes between .3 and .4 second.
13 milliseconds. 13 milliseconds between life and death, between getting hit in the head and diving out of the way. I don't think so.
All of this, of course, is math, and easy math, and proof that jurors are stupid, particularly when it comes to assigning blame to a company who makes a product explicitly designed to immediately reverse the direction of a projectile towards a group of humans. But this ignores the most important fact of all:
SPORTS ARE DANGEROUS.
I play hockey, and I play goalie. My job is to stop a frozen, 6 ounce rubber puck traveling between 90 and 130 mph. I play at the lowest level of competition and routinely find myself with bruises on my legs and arms despite wearing extremely protective modern equipment. This is a dangerous game. I accept the risks every time I put on my mask and skate onto the ice.
As such, any player who takes the field in any sport must understand and appreciate the very real risks surrounding him. Parents who allow their children to play baseball must understand and appreciate the very real risks surrounding their kids. 13 milliseconds would not have saved Brandon Patch's life.
As a species, we need to start understanding the difference between assumed risk and negligence. If aluminum bats sprayed line drives at 150 mph, then yes, I'd respect this lawsuit. But 13 milliseconds and 8 mph is not the difference between getting hit in the head and diving away. It's not even the difference between average batted ball speeds among players on a team. What it is, though, is $850,000 in psuedoscientific emotional verdicts.