It’s a well-known book in the baseball world, and it’s been recommended to me multiple times. I’ve been a little disappointed in it so far (hence the “plodding through” as mentioned above), but that’s mainly because several of the characters Will spends so much time focusing on aren’t so impressive 20 years later (Orel Hersheiser, Greg Swindell, Jim Gott, Jose Canseco, Tim Raines, Wade Boggs, Dwight Gooden), and also because I’ve already heard his best anecdotes from his interviews on Ken Burns’ Baseball.
Nevertheless, Will does make some good points, and perhaps none of them better than his description of the insidious evil that is aluminum bats (which are, by the way, the main reason I don’t get into college baseball at all):
“And he was pitching to aluminum bats, which do not break. That fact is even more important than the fact that they put a few extra feet on fly balls and a few more miles per hour on line drives.So, aluminum bats actually contribute to the weakening of the Major League pitcher (which, if you look at pitch counts, complete games and win totals, has continued at a dramatic rate since Will’s book was published 20 years ago).
Because aluminum bats do not break, pitching inside becomes problematic, even futile. Jam a batter on his fists with a pitch that would shatter a wooden bat and he still may be able to put it in play or even over the infield for a hit. That is why college baseball games last so long and why college batting averages are so high—and why professional scouts have such a hard time judging college talent. Because of aluminum bats, college pitchers throw fewer fastballs than they otherwise would. They throw curves, sliders, split-fingers and other breaking balls, and they throw them away from the hitters.
This has three pernicious consequences: They do not develop the arm strength that comes from throwing fastballs; they jeopardize their arms with all the torque involved in throwing breaking balls; they do not learn to pitch inside.”
Plus, they make that terrible pinging noise when the ball is hit. I hate aluminum bats.
p.s. One time I broke an aluminum bat in half. This is quite possibly the only piece of evidence in existence that I possess any sort of strength.