While watching the games, I notice that many of the bats are darkened about midway. What is the cause of this?
that would be pine tar. Used to make the hands grip the bat more. Keeps the bat from slipping out of hands and heading to the stands and hitting some little child who then proceeds to bleed all over the seats and has to be carted off on one of those emergency carts.
Pine tar, to enhance the grip. The handles are so narrow (to reduce weight) that they are hard to hold. Occasionally, they lose it entirely and the bat goes into the stands. They also break frequently, which used to be rare. It is said that Ty Cobb once used the same bat for an entire season–and he was no mean hitter.
Well, I know about pine tar (as well as that incident in 1983 over it), but this is stuff thats way beyond the area of gripping. It looks pine tar-ish, at that, but why is it needed way up near the sweet spot?
An MLB bat may be coated in pine tar or other such substance only up to 18" from the tip of the handle according to rule 1.10(b). George Brett ran afoul of ths rule in 1983 in what is now referred to as “The Pine Tar Incident”. The average length of a major league bat is around 33"-34", so pine tar could legally be applied to over half the bat.
I think they put tar way up so that they can get some on their hands without the gripping area being covered in it.
The top hand goes up there during bunting, so that may be a reasonable excuse.
Wasn’t the 18-inch rule modified somehow after the celebrated George Brett incident? (Brett’s home run was disallowed because his bat had a “foreign substance,” pine tar farther up his bat than 18 inches. Many bats now carry lines at that level.)
The pine tar gets so high up on the bat because of the way it is applied. Normally there is a large rag in the ondeck circle with pine tar on it. The batter then takes the rag and rubs the bat on it.
Precision isn’t a big deal in this.
The rule was changed so that a bat with pine tar too high up would just be removed from the game, but would not be cause to call someone out.