Dogs hope new bats are a hit

Now I’m just going to gloss over this because I haven’t looked at a bunch of data on it but Georgia has made a change its baseball players and coaches believe could make a huge difference.

The Bulldogs — who open the season Friday against Youngstown State — will be allowed to use Easton bats this year. To hear a lot of them talk about it, not having that luxury may have cost them the national championship against Easton-swinging Fresno State in the College World Series finals last June.

I talked to athletics director Damon Evans about the switch Wednesday night before the Georgia-Auburn basketball game. Clearly he’s not sold on the premise that Easton’s composite bats are markedly better than Nike’s bats. According to him, there is no scientific data to support that hypothesis. And the Bulldogs did hit 96 home runs last season with Nike bats, the second-most in school history. Personally I haven’t looked into it enough yet to have a strong opinion either way.

But coach David Perno and his players were passionate in their belief that they needed the technological advantages the Easton bats provide to remain ultra-competitive. That carried enough weight with Evans that he was willing to, well, go to bat for them.

Now keep in mind, this is a thorny issue. UGA is a Nike school. It gets paid millions of dollars by Nike to use it’s equipment exclusively, which the sporting goods giant provides generously for all 20 sports the Bulldogs field. So this wasn’t a little thing for Evans. It required some phone calls and some negotiating and more than a little research to find out who was doing what nationally.

In the end, Evans said, “Nike was kind enough to work with us on this.” So Georgia is using Easton bats, for now just for this one season. But it still has Nike bats, too, and it’s up to the players to decide which one they want to swing.

Word is it’s 10-to-1 Easton. If they want to keep them the Bulldogs best hit 100 homers.

Couple o’ links:

Hope you saw my report on Wednesday’s night Georgia-Auburn basketball game. Here’s the one from Charles Goldberg of the Birmingham News. . . .

Here’s a nice little story on former Bulldogs David Greene and Matt Stinchcomb visiting some older alums over in Augusta. . . .

The Sporting News unveiled an interesting ranking system designed to determine which schools do the most with the least amount of talent. Spoiler alert: Cincinnati was No. 1.

14 comments Add your comment

Ted Striker

February 19th, 2009
6:14 pm

I’m not athletic enough to tell the difference when swinging an Easton versus a Nike bat. However many top end baseball schools obviously prefer Easton. (As for the fact that UGA hit 96 HRs last year, I’ll give Damon that. However, I’ll also put forth the idea that Gordon Beckham was a unique talent and UGA had an incredible run. I’m not too worried about how Damon will handle Nike negotiations. He’s strong.

Chip, I appreciate how you filter through numerous links to include only the best — while still using your creative talents to originate salient stories and topics. Keep up the good work!

Chip Towers

February 20th, 2009
8:31 am

Thanks kindly, Ted Striker. Your continued presence here is greatly appreciated.

KornDawg

February 20th, 2009
8:58 am

Thanks for the blog, Chip. Do you think there will be a link to it on the AJC’s sports page? By the way , your picture at the top looks a lot like Hugh Downs (ha,ha)

bank walker

February 20th, 2009
11:22 am

I’m an ex-baseball player. I always liked the Easton bats over TPX. Nike came along after I retired the glove, so I never had a chance to swing them.

Hunk Erdown

February 20th, 2009
11:35 am

I had to move on from Easton versus Nike years ago. Now its Taylor made versus Calloway, but if bats are anything like drivers, it is a big deal in the hands of the player… even if 90% of it is half mental.

Stack1009

February 20th, 2009
11:37 am

Chip, thanks for the info on the baseball team.

Do you have any inside info on why David Greene’s career never took off in the NFL? I know he was on a couple of different teams’ practice squad and was often the 3rd-string QB. Did he not get a fair shot at winning the back-ups job or did his game just not translate to the pros well? Is he still under contract with a team?

Chip Towers

February 20th, 2009
1:22 pm

Stack1009: You know, I’ve always wondered that about David Greene myself. I’m going to give him a call and write a story in the coming weeks. Thanks.

Gary

February 20th, 2009
2:11 pm

Chip, great blog man. Glad to see we are getting a little talk about one of UGA’s better teams last year, the National Runner Up – Diamond Dawgs. Anyway, when I last played high school ball about 10 years ago, Easton was the way to go. Today when I play in some of the amatuer leagues, Easton is still preferred vs Nike or TPX. Better grip and easier swing in my opinion and hope this helps some of the guys on the team out.

Jason

February 20th, 2009
5:39 pm

UGA hit 96 home runs last year? What in the hell is the excuse for blaming the bats! Almost 100 home runs and the bats are inferior? If they used Easton bats, how many home runs should everyone have expected? 150? 200? This BS about the bats is laughable. UGA was one game away from winning the CWS, and now are looking pathetic for finding excuses for why they didn’t win. Revolting.

[...] Conference champion Diamond Dogs opened their spring slate at Foley Field on Friday evening, armed with Easton bats, and produced 17 hits and 15 runs in their biggest opening day scoring outburst since 2000. No [...]

Josh

February 21st, 2009
2:56 am

Wow, impressive. Youngstown State. Are they NAIA? A whopping 1 home run. BWHAHA. Nike is going to be furious. You better switch back to the Nike bats. Only 95 more home runs to go!!!!!!! 15 runs and only 1 home run. It must be the inferior Easton bats. Phil Knight will be calling Perno shortly. He definitely has some explaining to do.

Thomas Brown

February 23rd, 2009
5:18 am

Wonderful new format Chip. I love it that the Tech Nerds who logged on with all of our own handles, no longer can do that. Not without setting up an account as each one of us, and even then everything they say is accountable to that name. Hopefully, the names are unique.

We’ll see if they are unique.

Won’t we ?

David Greene’s NFL career never got off the ground because his passes were not crisp. He never threw a pass in the NFL. Not 1.

Matthew Stafford will.

But, neither were All America Quarterbacks at Georgia who has a slew of better quarterbacks than both of them.

The Best UGA QB All-Time ? I liked Charley Trippi, Fran Tarkenton, Johnny Rauch, Zeke Bratkowski, Eric Zeier, Larry Rakestraw, Preston Jones, Bill Hartman, Quincy Carter, DJ Shockley, and Matt Robinson all of whom had better NFL careers than David Greene (and Matthew Stafford so far.)

BobDog

February 23rd, 2009
5:14 pm

It ain’t the arrows, it’s the Indian!

[...] department hasn’t been adversarial, it’s still been troubling. The issue of the Nike bats imposed on the team was probably the most public example of the difficulties. Facilities also remain an issue: there [...]