Enjoy the Game

My name is Dwight Malloy, I run a non-profit 501c3 youth organization that works with boys and girls from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. I would like to first thank Viper Bats for asking me to contribute to this blog.

I run the non-profit as a volunteer offering training at low cost or free to people from all types of backgrounds, ages and skill levels. I train players from 8 years old to players that I have worked with for years that are playing D1 college ball and in the minor leagues. I enjoy working with all of them, they all present different challenges and obstacles that they want to overcome to achieve their goals.

This post is about a young man that is a junior in high school. He attends one of the top academic high schools in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have only had the chance to work with this young man for just over a year and I do not hesitate to tell anyone, he is one of the most gifted and hardworking players I have ever had the chance to work with in the years I have been able to be blessed to do this type of training. This young man was offered and verbally accepted a very large baseball scholarship to Ohio State. He also has been scouted by pro teams quite prominently, but more than all of that the young man is just a quality person. Several weeks ago this young man was diagnosed with cancer the day after one of his best hitting sessions he had ever had with me. The treatment of chemo and other drugs has begun and the prognosis is very promising for this young man to have a full recovery, which has just been the greatest news since this happened.

This young man met this head on, never waivered and told me it was just another hurdle in life and he was going to overcome it. He has been nothing except positive and has provided strength to those around him while he was the one going through this battle with cancer.

I share this story because as a hitting instructor in the place I run I get the chance to work with people for extended periods. I develop great relationships with the players and their families. I am very fortunate to be able to do this, becuse of how the non-profit is run, players come in a lot. I don’t accept any pay for my services and I truly believe it is the reason Ihave the success rate I do. I do it because I love it, not for a paycheck. I take a different approach in that, I believe it is my failings as a teacher if the player does not understand the concepts I am teaching them. I believe this because if you spend any time learning about hitting, there are endless amount of ideas and techniques being taught. I believe that each player can be reached, as an instructor it is my job to find the way that they understand.

Anyway, the message that I wanted to send with the title of enjoy the game is this, regardless of what your involvement is in baseball be it a player, coach, instructor, parent, or just a fan of the game, I know that their is no time clock in baseball, but understand that the last inning, at bat, or pitch will happen to all of us at some point. As a player please ENJOY THE GAME every pitch, every sunflower seed, every rain delay, the friends you meet and make along the way, the hot streaks, the cold streaks, etc because when you stop playing you will miss all of it.

I read this quote and have it posted on a mirror at the indoor training facility and I will leave you with it. ” Look in the mirror everyday and ask yourself, how much of my life have I wasted to this point? Do you like the answer?”

Welcome to Arizona!

Hey everybody,

First off I have to apologize for not giving any kind of update for the last couple of weeks, between the travel and our hotel internet it has been a struggle.  That said, it’s time to catch you all up on what is going on down here.

I’ll backtrack a little here. Padres Mini Camp began on February 22 with our report day.  My first Spring Training experience began 5 days earlier when my mom, gramma and I set out on one of the most epic 5 day trips across the continent, leaving Toronto, crossing an international border and passing through (or stopping) in 10 states.  We saw a few really amazing country bands in Nashville, Tennessee, ate at a 4 time World Champion Barbeque restaurant in Horn Lake, Mississippi and encountered snow in, of all places, Arizona.  We put 3,600 plus miles on my Jeep but it was a very cool experience to see what we did, and visit places I had previously only known from country songs.  We arrived Thursday night in Peoria, Arizona ahead of my Friday report date.

I called up my buddy Max Fried, who like me was eager enough to get started that he arrived the night before as well.  We met up and went to a cool sports bar called Santisi Brothers to meet a few of the guys we knew who were here for Major League camp. We had wings and garlic knots, thanks to Austin Hedges recommendation. It was awesome to get back with the guys and have the older guys to get a little feedback from on how this whole thing works.

Friday was our report day and we figured we would just throw our stuff into our lockers and head to the team hotel.  We were wrong.  We ran into a group of pitchers and hitters and just like that we were right into the thick of things.  Max took off and went to throw and run with the pitchers and I split off with the hitters and spent the morning in the cage doing our usual tee work and front toss.  Again, it was great to be back with the boys and sharing in our favorite activity, batting practice.  I was happy to find Varo, our Dominican Summer League Coordinator in the cages with us because he was extremely helpful last year during my time in Arizona during Instructional League.  After our morning of work we checked into the hotel and I went back to the hotel my mom and gramma were at to have dinner with them.

Saturday was our first official workout.  Now in the interest of saving you all from a post that could cover 11 days and probably take 3 weeks to read I’ll go through Saturday in detail and then you can sort of project the other 10 days since they are all very similar.  We met on Field 5 at just before 10 am for our opening meeting with all the coaches and staff.  The meeting took forever, as they always do but it seemed to not bother anyone as we were all just excited to be back together on a baseball field (I’m sure this was less of a factor for some of the southern guys who probably had access to fields all winter, but for someone leaving a snowstorm behind it was AWESOME!)

We stretched, doing a completely new routine of exercises put together by our new strength and conditioning staff.  When we finished, the pitchers went to Field 4 to warm up their arms and we played pepper to loosen up our arms, swings and get a bit of time to chat it up and get to know the guys we didn’t know from last summer.  We then threw and got loose, I partnered up with Stephen Carmon who was the SS in Eugene last summer.  When we finished we broke into our IPS, a fancy way for us to sound really professional about doing our Individual Position Defense.  Jonesy, Eas and Deano took the infielders and we did an easy round of ground balls.  In the days since then we’ve covered everything from double plays to forehands and backhands to slow rollers and choppers.  Jonesy always keeps us doing different things so that when each situation presents itself in a game we are confident in our preparation.  After IPS we broke into our BP rotation groups and I was grouped with Travis Jankowski (my CF from Stony Brook), Cory Spangenberg and Luis Domoromo, a group we would later refer to as the Long Name Lefties. We started on Field 5 at “Bark’s School of Bunting” with Glen Barker, then headed to the cage to get loose.  Next was live bp on the field, followed by live defense (we go to our positions and play the batted ball from the live hitting group) and then base running.

Each day the routine is the same, but the drills and topics we cover change.  For example, each day we do base running at a different base.  We cover our lead offs, situational reads of when to run and when not to, our angles coming around the bags etc.  Our cage work changes from tee rounds to soft toss, from working on opposite field hitting to driving the ball into our pull gap.  We have been extremely lucky to get these couple of weeks to get really advanced coaching from our staff and to get the time to work 1 on 1 with guys who have played for 10 plus years in the big leagues.  One of the cool things that we have been tasked with doing every morning is for a group of players to give a quick presentation of a specific coach so we all get to know their playing background.  Each morning before stretch 3-5 players will get up and talk about one coach and discuss the coach’s stats in the big leagues, memorable baseball moments, favorite teammates etc.

It has so far been an awesome experience getting back into the swing of things and getting ready for this season.  I am enjoying every day, and trying to get as much as I can from everything we work on.  As Eas (Damion Easley) told me the other day “If you have something you can do in your sleep that’s great, but you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone every day and get better at those things you aren’t as confident in.” I have taken that to heart, and am using every day as an opportunity to get closer to my ultimate goal.  It may seem routine, and it may seem like Opening Day is still weeks away, but there will come a time when something I worked on down here will happen in a game and it will be the difference between a win and a loss.  I’m looking forward to those nights when my teammates and I can look back and say with 100% confidence that the work we put in in Arizona was the reason for our success.

I’ll be posting more regularly now that things have settled down a little and I know where the Starbucks closest to our complex is and I can get some quality internet access. Keep swinging, keep throwing and stay hungry!

 

Mini Camp

Hope everyone is having a good day and is ready for the start of baseball season. I’m currently out here in Peoria, Arizona participating in the Mariners mini-camp program. I arrived on February 15th and the camp runs until March 1. We then will have a couple days to recover and get ready for the start of Minor League Spring Training. The coaches have given each player here a couple things to work on and improve during the camp. They’ve been helping me a ton so far and i am excited for the start of Spring Training. They also have us on a strict throwing program and fielding program to prepare us. I will be posting weekly to keep everybody updated on how spring training is going and how i am preparing myself for the start of the season. I currently am working on getting some pictures of myself swinging my new Viper 244′s. I will also be posting things about Viper on twitter. I’ve already put up a picture of my shipments of bats. You can follow me @PatrickKivlehan if you want. Hope to hear from some of you soon. I’ll update you guys sometime next week. Have a good day everybody

Wrapping up the Off Season

Hey everyone, It’s finally that time of year again, baseball is back! Well, sort of. Pitchers and catchers have begun to report for all of our MLB teams marks the beginning of a long standing tradition, Spring Training.  2013 will be my first Spring Training, so I am extremely excited to get down to Peoria and get this season underway!

Hopefully this post will sort of tie up all the loose ends that are the off season and get everybody as excited for Spring Training as I am.  I’ve spent the winter splitting time between my desk job at Splash (see previous post) and my off season baseball job of hitting, throwing and working out. Throughout the process my trainer “Boots” has done all sorts of testing so we are able to establish how I’m progressing toward my goals.  Today was the biggest day for me, as we finally re-tested my sprints, the area of my game that absolutely needed the most work.  We are only able to run 30 yards at the Baseball Zone where I’ve been working out, maxing out the space by pulling all the batting cages out of the way.  When I started to work with Boots in November I ran my 40 in 4.11 seconds.  Today, I ran the same sprint in 3.88! I may not be the fastest guy in camp, but I am incredibly proud of the hard work I’ve put in in the last few months to get my times down.  Like I said in my post about off season workouts, there is nothing better than competing with yourself and trying to better your scores and times.  I know now that all of the hours I put in not only at the Baseball Zone, but at home stretching, foam rolling etc have paid off in a tangible way.  It all adds up to 0.23 seconds!

I’ve been feeling great lately in the cage, my swing is starting to really feel like its ready to go.  In the last week I’ve been able to stand in against some pitchers throwing bullpens, something I find incredibly helpful in getting my timing and my eye back.  Last Thursday I stood in and saw 30 pitch bullpens from my college teammate turned Chicago Cub Jas Rakkar, and two guys who I’ve become friends with over the off season, Jamie Richmond (Royals) and John Marriotti (Team Italy, WBC).  Over the weekend I was back practicing with my former high school elite team and was able to stand in against a whole bunch of 18U pitchers, both left and right handed.  Tomorrow will be a big day for me as I’m going to actually take live batting practice swings off Jas, Jamie and John.

In wrapping up my off season I decided to FINALLY break out a new bat.  Since I received my order of Vipers last fall at Instructional League (September 12, 2012)

I have used 1 bat exclusively, every single day.  Exactly 5 months have passed, 153 days of which I probably hit on 140. I finally managed to chip the barrel, nothing serious enough that it won’t continue to be my BP bat, but enough to know it was time to break out a new one. So, here it is, my fresh out of the plastic wrap M-320 maple.

New BatThis will be the first time I’m using Viper’s Maple. If it’s anywhere close to as good as the Birch I know it will last a long time, have serious pop, and if you ask me, it will look pretty sharp too!

Now we can all go back to counting down the days until Opening Day.  Keep working hard, keep swinging and let’s play some ball!

The Offseason, The Holiday Season and The New Year

Good Evening!!

It has been a while since I posted on here but I wanted to write for all of you and let you know what has been going on lately.  It has been a crazy month for me!  Unlike what a lot of people think (myself included when I was younger) minor league ball players normally have to have some sort of secondary job in the offseason.  In a world of small salaries, and paychecks that are only being earned through half the year we need to find a way to have a life when we’re at home.  Offseason jobs come in all sorts of different forms, teammates of mine from the Padres organization are doing everything from teaching at schools, and running baseball clinics to working in warehouses and offices.  I am doing the last of those things, and let me just throw it out there for any of the younger guys DESK JOBS SUCK when you have a regular job that includes taking ground balls and batting practice 6 days a week.

I am working at a marketing company here in Toronto called Splash, we import home decor and gift ware items from China and sell them all across the country. How does a minor league player get a job at a company like that? Connections definitely help!  A former teammate of mine’s dad owns the company, and in the past I have done various school projects about the business so when I got home I felt like it was natural to call him and see if I could pick up some warehouse work, it’s unglamorous, but its physical labor which I figured couldn’t be bad in addition to our workout program.  We agreed on a schedule and the next thing I knew I was back on the phone with him being told that I would be bored working in the warehouse and so I ended up in a “flex” position, one that has gotten me some work experience in everything from Accounts Receivable to being a secretary.

Lately, I have been firmly rooted in the Purchasing department, I even have my own company email address!  My job has been to prepare spreadsheets for my boss that show all of the different items any one of the factories produces along with all of the buying information.  He then chooses the items we would like samples of, and that’s when the fun begins.  I’ve been emailing back and forth with more than 50 different factories in China arranging for delivery of all of these items.  Every day I receive around 20 emails from different factories about the sample orders and I’ve had to keep track of all of them through FedEx’s website as well as on Excel Spreadsheets.  It has been a pretty cool experience to see the whole process unfold, as the emails slowly turn into a sample room filled with over 500 items!

You’re all probably thinking “this is a baseball blog where’s the baseball?” That is where the friendly boss comes into play.  He has allowed me to take Tuesday and Thursday as a half days which allows me to drive across the city to The Baseball Zone to hit, throw and work out!  Monday, Wednesday and Friday I work 8:45 am – 5 pm, but those precious Tuesdays and Thursdays have been critical in allowing me to continue to my training on a regular basis.  In addition, I am at The Baseball Zone Monday nights, and Saturday afternoons.  I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of friends who are back from Junior College who I’ve been able to hit and workout with which has made it far more enjoyable than doing it all alone.

In this video, my buddy Robert Grilli and I are going through a “functional” workout.  Its not necessarily your traditional dumbell/barbell workout, but its a series of exercises that really is tough to get through.  Our workout included:

  • Sled pulls
  • Battle Ropes (In video)
  • Tire Flips (In video)
  • Sled Pushes
  • Sledgehammer smashes
  • Russian Twists
  • Curl/Presses (In video)
  • Ab hang

Each day I am at The Zone I go through my tee work routine, starting with my one hand swing drills and moving on to normal tee work.  After a little while I move into front or side toss and work on keeping my bat path, my hand path and swing plane all correct.  I find that these “slower” drills allow me to better understand my swing and how it’s supposed to feel, so that when I’m in the heat of July facing a reliever throwing 98 I know exactly what I need to do to have success.  I finish off my day with some light throwing, and some defensive work.  I work with all my gloves so that whether I’m told to do drills at Spring Training as a 2nd baseman, 3rd baseman or 1st baseman I’ll be ready.  A scout once told me, the more gloves you have in your bag, the more valuable you are, so I continue to try and learn my non primary positions.

I’m working as hard as I ever have both at my job at Splash and on my body, my swing and my other baseball abilities and it’s a great feeling knowing that in a few short months I will get a chance to put all of my physical work on display at Spring Training.  I hate to be that guy, since last time I wrote I mentioned Halloween candy, but during the Christmas season we can do a lot of harm to our biggest asset, our bodies.  Lets all think twice before that extra piece of cake, those extra cookies or that extra dessert that grandma made. Its awesome, we all know how tempting it is, but the reward for not having it will far outweigh the delicious food.  Be smart during this holiday season, and let the other guy be the player that shows up next baseball season a step too slow, and a step behind the game.

Finally, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year filled with lots of hits, RBI’s and a few majestic home runs!  Enjoy your time off from school, or work and spend it with family and friends, but remember there are only 100 days until Opening Day.  Pitchers and catchers will be reporting soon, and our REAL lives will start up again.

My Viper Blog

Hello everybody my name is Patrick Kivlehan, Chris from Viper Bats approached me about doing a blog about my story and the life of a professional baseball player.  I look forward to sharing my stories and hearing back from you guys throughout the season. For my first blog I will just tell you guys my story and my unique path to professional baseball.

I was born and raised in West Nyack, New York.  It is about 20 minutes north of New York City.  I was a die hard Mets fan growing up and a big New York sports fan in general.  My two favorite sports growing up were baseball and football.  I played Little League baseball and Pop Warner football all the way up until it was time to go to high school.  I chose to go to a private all boys catholic high school called, St. Joseph Regional High School in New Jersey instead of my town high school in New York.  This decision was made so I could hopefully get more exposure to colleges than I coulde at my town high school.  I live right on the boarder of New York and New Jersey so it was only a 15 minute drive back and forth.

In High School i played football and baseball all four years and received All County and All State honors for both sports.  Heading into my senior year I knew the biggest question that needed to be answered was whether I was going to play baseball or football in college.  I spent my summers going to football camps instead of showcases for baseball so my name was not really out there for baseball scouts to find me.  I had a good senior football season and once the season was over took all my visits to colleges and on the night before the National Signing Day for football I received a full scholarship offer from Rutgers University to play defensive back. I had received some Divison 1AA scholarships but Rutgers was my only Division 1A scholarship.  The next morning I signed my name on the line to play football and defensive back at Rutgers. I knew this meant I would have to give up baseball but the full scholarship was impossible to pass up.  I played my senior season in baseball and put up really good numbers and had to hear it from my coaches all season that I should play baseball in college instead of football.  I knew they were right but there was nothing I could do at that point, I was already committed for football.

I attended Rutgers where i played football from 2008-2012. Lets just say my career did not go the way I had hoped it would.  I was mostly a back up with a few starts here and there and a special teams player.  After my senior season was complete I wanted to get back into baseball.  I approached the Rutgers baseball coach over the winter and asked him if I could try out for the team.  I made the team and with an injury occuring on the first day of practice I was now the starting 3rd baseman.  I ended up putting up good numbers this past college season and was named the Big East Player of the Year and was named a 3rd Team All American. I was the first person in Big East history to win the league Triple Crown.   All of a sudden there was talk of me getting drafted in the upcoming draft.

I was drafted in the 2012 draft by the Seattle Mariners in the 4th round and was sent to Everett, Washington to play for the Everett AquaSox (Mariners short season A team).  This is where I was introduced to Chris and the rest of the Viper Bats staff.  They gave me some models to try out and I loved them and ordered some for the rest of the season. Our team was eliminated in the 1st round of playoffs and I was named the Northwest League MVP.

It has been a crazy year to say the least but I am excited to be playing baseball again and cannot wait for spring training to come in March.  Right now I am just working out and hitting.  Mostly working on my hitting because being out of the game for as long as I was there are tons of things I need to work on and get better at. I am looking forward to updating you guys on my off season as the weeks go on and sharing some more stories.

If any of you have any questions about baseball, my story, or even football (if we have any football guys reading) feel free to ask.  I love talking sports especially baseball so don’t be afraid to ask!

Working Hard

Good Morning Everyone,

I hope everyone has had a good first half of the week, and for the younger guys on here a solid Halloween last night!! Helpful hint, pick out your favorite one or two types of candy, save them and get rid of the rest! We don’t need all that candy, it doesn’t help our bodies stay in top shape. The season is a lot closer than you think!  Speaking of which, I thought today would be a good day to write about just that, staying in shape and building for next season.

At the end of the season each Padres player was given an individual username and password to the online strength and conditioning website. We were called in to a meeting with Dan, our head Strength and Conditioning Coach during which we were given our log in information and a goal sheet to help guide our work through the off season. Dan explained to me that when I arrive at Spring Training in February that the club expects me to be lighter, quicker and leaner.  All three of these things were expected, and are necessary changes to help me to progress through the system.  I was told I need to get my weight down to around 200 pounds, while losing roughly 5% of my body fat.  These two changes to my body will in turn help me achieve my lifelong goal of being faster. Working toward a specific defined goal is extremely important because it allows me to create check points along the way and make sure I’m progressing.

Image

My workout binder. On the left is the active week, on the right my completed sheets. All of them come with our logo in the middle, which serves as a cool little motivator, reminding me what all the hours in the gym are for.

With that in mind, this week is considered Week 6. Our workout program is set up to work Monday through Friday and comes on a nicely set up worksheet. I’ve printed all of the workout sheets out and put them into a binder so that when I go to the gym every day I can track my weights, reps and any other notes about how I’m feeling during the workout.  This week is a long week because all of our sets are either 10 reps, or 8 reps.  Monday is the worst, we start the week off with a workout that gives us a sample of all the fun for the week.  We have a big leg section to kick it off, followed by chest and back and finishing off with a core program.  We cap off the day off with a half an hour of cardio and stretching to keep our bodies loose so we can pick up the next day.  Tuesday we have a conditioning circuit in addition to our lift, but the workout itself is just upper body so it isn’t as difficult as the full body Monday.  Wednesdays are the day that bring one of my favorite terms to life, recovery cardio.  Yes, you read that right. Recover by doing cardio.  It’s one of those terms that coaches use to make things sound a lot better than they actually are, recovery cardio, active rest, or cool down.  Sounds easy, but these can’t be neglected as they do serve an important purpose. Today is another long lift, a different set of full body exercises, a core series with the physioball and as always a half hour of cardio and stretch.  We finish the week with another upper body only workout on Friday and add on our core series and a program to strengthen our hips.  By Friday evening my entire body is sore, but that is a good thing, it means I’ve pushed myself yet again.

The most important thing for me is to make sure this all is done in as enjoyable a way as possible.  How do I do that, given that I’m throwing weights around 4 days a week, doing cardio every day and also making sure I hit as many times a week as I can?  I’m hyper competitive, so I try and make each week a game.  Each week I try to beat my previous best, I go for more weight, a longer distance during my cardio sessions and try to come out of it feeling better than the week before.  I know that if I continue to push myself to beat last week that by the time Spring Training rolls around I will be ready mentally and physically.  I will be ready to attack practices, lifts and games with the same mentality that I attack a 2-0 fastball! I can’t wait to get started, only 150 more days until Opening Day!

Get to work!

My Viper Bats Blog

Good Evening to everyone on the East Coast, and Good Afternoon to everyone on the West Coast!
My name is Maxx Tissenbaum, and Chris from Viper Bats recently contacted me about writing for the Viper Bats blog.  Why, you ask? Well we think that there is an interesting story to be told by a 21 year old person who has just completed his first season as a Minor League Baseball player.  So without much more of an introduction to this blog, I’d like to introduce myself so you all have an idea of who is writing about the crazy grind that is professional baseball.

I’m Maxx. I grew up in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and I’ve been a baseball player and fan for as long as I’ve been alive. My parents have told me that the first movie I ever actually requested to see was “Back 2 Back” a documentary about the Blue Jays 1992 and 1993 World Series Champion teams.  The story goes that I would sit in front of the tv for hours watching Robbie Alomar, John Olerud and of course Joe Carter while constantly trying to impersonate their swings, or the plays they made in the video.

I began playing competitively when I was 8 years old, playing on a team of 9 year old kids.  I spent my entire Rep career playing for the North York Blues before graduating to the Toronto Mets program.  While with the Mets I was lucky enough to play for two National Championship teams, get the opportunity to play for my province, and win another championship at the Baseball Canada Cup, and to play for the Canadian Junior National Team.

After my senior year at York Mills Collegiate I was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 43rd round, but opted to accept a scholarship to play baseball and take undergraduate classes at Stony Brook University.  Once again I was lucky enough to have a career defined by winning championships, as my Freshman and Junior year we won the America East Conference and went to NCAA Regionals. This past year, my Junior year at Stony Brook we, for the first time in school history, won a Regional, won a Super Regional and advanced to the College World Series. It was a magical season, one that brought with it personal successes for many of my teammates and I.  A school record 7 Seawolves were drafted in the 2012 MLB Draft, and we all chose to begin our Professional careers.

So here I am, one season into this new phase of my baseball career as a member of the San Diego Padres organization. I wrote a blog about that season, which you can check out at www.8maxx.blogspot.com, and it will give you insight into the world of a rookie in the Minors.

As for my connection to Viper Bats, I recently switched from a different bat company after meeting the guys while playing in Everett, Washington as a member of the visiting Eugene Emeralds.  I got to test out a Viper during that series and then decided to switch over during Instructional League. I currently swing a Viper B320 model which is a model we worked on together, based off of the standard 318.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully you’ll enjoy this journey with me!

Maxx
P.S. If you ever have any questions about things I don’t mention in this blog please feel free to leave a comment on the post and I will get back to you with as much insight as I can.  There is nothing I enjoy more than talking baseball, so please always know you can leave questions about anything and everything baseball related!

Youth and Little League Wood Bat Guide

This is a guide for parents so they can better educate themselves on what kind of wood bat to get for their child.  I get asked all of the below questions frequently, and hopefully this guide will help improve the knowledge base and wood bat buying process of parents everywhere.

FAQ

  • How long does it take to get a bat?
    The biggest thing I can tell parents is to plan ahead when it comes to getting a bat.  If you know of a tournament coming up, or if a child needs a bat for a league, try to purchase at least a month or so in advance so you don’t have to pay extra for express production and/or shipping fees.  One thing to keep in mind when buying a wood bat is that it’s typically not an in-stock purchase like a metal bat. Typical turnaround time is 1-4 weeks depending on the time of year. During busy season (spring) expect it to be closer to the 4 week mark.
  • What bat is the best for my kid?
    There isn’t going to be one bat that is “the best” or give them “more pop”.  The biggest thing to know is that birch, maple, and bamboo bats are going to be more forgiving and last longer on average than an ash bat.  With that said, most kids are used to swinging a very light metal bat so the closest alternative to that is the Birch Ultra Light’s or Ash Ultra Light’s.
  • What’s the difference between a Little League and Youth bat?
    This is a fairly important thing to know when it comes to buying a bat.  Little League bats can have a maximum 2.25” diameter barrel so anything bigger than that is not legal to use.  Youth bats are going to have a slightly larger barrel (~2.35”) and are usable in leagues that aren’t specifically “little league”.  The best way to find out which type is right for you is to ask your coach if it’s a “little league” tournament/league or if they can have a bigger barrel and go from there.

    Our little league bats all say LL on them and can be found here:    http://www.viperbats.com/littleleaguewoodbats.asp

    Our youth bats can be found here:
    http://www.viperbats.com/youthwoodbats.asp

  • What’s the difference between the LL271 and LL10?
    The knob is the only thing that’s different on these two models.  The LL271 is going to have a slightly flared knob while the LL10 is going to have a standard/conventional knob.  Typically the LL10 is a little closer to a metal bat profile.
  • What’s the difference between the Y73 and Y271?
    The knob on the 73 is going to be a large bell shaped knob that is going to work as a counterweight while the 271 is going to be a flared knob which is more common in wood bats.  Typically, if a player has never swung a Y73 I suggest they go with the Y271 because it’s going to be similar to what they’ve swung in metal bats.  The Y73 is a very popular model and a lot of people like it; I just don’t recommend it for someone who isn’t sure if they’re sold on the knob style.

Why did my bat break?

I get asked a lot the question of “why did my bat break?” or “my bat broke pre-maturely, is there some sort of warranty or can you guys replace it?” These questions are quite complex and are often hard to judge without seeing the actual use of the bat but you are still able to tell a lot from the bat itself and making sure they are used properly from the start to ensure a full life span. Wood bats are quite fragile if used improperly so being knowledgeable about them will not only help you as a hitter but also save you money.

The biggest thing that leads to premature breakage is hitting on the wrong side of the bat, often referred to as “logo up or logo down.” What this means is make sure contact with the ball is made on the edge grain of the bat versus the face grain of the bat which can be seen below.  Ash bats are much more susceptible to this type of breakage and you’ll typically see flaking of the barrel. One thing to keep in mind here is that some people swing with a “quarter roll”, so when they have the logo up or down they actually make contact on the face grain. This is a simple fix and the player needs to adjust the logo so it’s either facing towards the pitcher or away from the picture, basically they turned it a quarter roll in their hands when they start. The best way to test this is to grab your bat and take a couple of practice swings holding it up in the logo down or up position and stop the bat where you would make contact and see where you’re making contact. If you’re making contact on the edge grain you’re good to go, if you’re not simply turn the bat a quarter roll in your hands before you start and take another practice swing and you should see you are now making contact on the edge grain.

The other major cause of premature breakage is making contact on the “weak” spots of the bat. The big examples here are getting “jammed”, making contact in on the handle, on an inside pitch or hitting it off the end of the bat because you were “out in front” or ahead of the pitch and the end of the barrel made contact first instead of the barrel. The big thing to keep in mind here is that you might make contact in one of these weak spots but your bat doesn’t break. Usually when this happens you can feel on contact that something definitely wasn’t right, when this happens it weakens the wood and makes it more susceptible to breaking on future swings. Bad hits over time will weaken the bat and at times you will have what you think should have been a solid hit but your bat breaks and you’re thinking to yourself “wow there must be something wrong with the bat” but in reality it was caused by previous bad hits and was just the breaking point in what the wood could handle.

The last type of breakage we see is the ones due to faulty wood. It doesn’t happen often but we do see it from time to time. The big thing here is looking for the straightness of the grain. If you see a lot of wavy grain it makes the bat considerably weaker and often leads early breakage. Usually you can even tell the difference in the contact when you use a bat with really wavy grain compared to a straight grained bat as it won’t feel as solid when you make contact. This type of wood is most commonly found in your retail stores and often why they’re so much cheaper than your custom bat bought directly from a company.

If you have any questions or comment feel free to ask, hopefully with this information and tips you can make your next bat not only last longer but with more pop!