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Pine-tar advantage for Isotope slugger Brett Harper?

August 3, 2009

The rule on the use of pine tar in professional baseball is codified in 1.1o(c) but that apparently means nothing in professional minor league baseball. The rule states that the batters may apply pine tar only from the handle of the bat extending up for 18 inches.

The exact wording related to pine tar says:

The bat handle, for not more than 18 inches from its end, may be covered or treated with any material or substance to improve the grip.  Any such material or substance, which extends past the 18 inch limitation, shall cause the bat to be removed from the game.

NOTE: If the umpire discovers that the bat does not conform to (c) above until a time during or after which the bat has been used in play, it shall not be grounds for declaring the batter out, or ejected from the game.

When Isotope’s slugger Brett Harper came to bat in the 6th inning I noticed that his pine tar was way up on his bat.  I was sitting on the first row behind his dugout and it was clearly visible to me that the tar ran up past the brand mark. When he came up to bat again in the eighth I took some pictures.

DSCN2863.JPG by you.

DSCN2861.JPG by you.

Harper’s bat is clearly in violation of the rule.  First, the tar starts about 10-12 inches from the handle.  Second, it clearly surpasses the 18-inches because you can see the tar also covers the brand and even surpasses the brand mark.

I tried to bring it to the attention of the home plate umpire, and he seemed to even glance at Harper’s bat, but he ignored it.

A rule is a rule. The tar provides Harper no advantage for grip, unless he were to choke up 12 inches. Brett Harper’s pine tar is clearly meant to influence the ball hitting the bat.  That violates the rule and his bat should be removed and Brett should be ejected the next time at the plate.

This isn’t the first “Brett” to be involved in a pine-tar controversy. Just ask George Brett!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Scott permalink
    August 6, 2009 4:15 pm

    Actually, it is not designed to influence the way the ball hits the bat. If Harper hits it there, he has clearly gotten jammed. No… the pine tar is there so that he can get some more on his batting gloves while at the plate without having to go back to the on-deck circle. There is no pine tar on the barrel of the bat, which is the spirit of the rule. And even if the bat were ruled nonconforming, no, Harper should not have been ejected… your “Note” above clearly states that.

    • tellinghistory permalink*
      August 6, 2009 4:46 pm

      The rule states exactly where the pine tar must be on the bat. It doesn’t matter what Harper’s intent is. It’s a rule that is violated all the time and it is rarely called by an umpire. If it si not going to be enforced then it should be changed or eliminated. I’m not a “letter of the law” kinda guy but the rule is the rule.

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