Mythbusters 8/8/807: MLB Dictates Show Content?

On the August 8, 2007 episode of Mythbusters, they were discussing and testing the efficacy of corked bats. They don’t actually show how to cork a bat, saying “MLB didn’t want us to show how it’s done.”

Since when is Mythbusters accountable to Major League Baseball? :smack:

  1. I’m not aware that MLB’s anti-corking rules apply to the general public.

  2. There’s not a MLB player alive who doesn’t know how to cork a bat.

Am I missing something here?

I haven’t seen the episode, but did they get any kind of assistance from MLB? If so, it was probably with the caveat that they not show how to cork a bat. “Sure, we’ll give you technical assistance, but only if you agree to our terms.”

Right. Didn’t see it either, but if they used any video of MLB games, they’d need MLB permission to rebroadcast that, and MLB would be free to impose whatever conditions they like on that consent. MLB under the Selig regime has become pretty aggressive about defending its intelllectual property rights, so they may even have taken the stance that simply mentioning the names of MLB teams or players required MLB permission.

I doubt MLB could do much about them mentioning the names of teams or players. However, MLB might have a lot of control of whether a current player on the payroll of an MLB team appears on the show…

Gee. It’s not likely that anyone would type ‘how to cork a bat’ into google and and then find a link like this.

ETA: Oh crap! Does this mean I’m going to get a visit from the MLB enforcement squad? Think they’ll use corked bats?

What I want to know is what they determined about whether corking is effective. I missed the latter part of the show.

This is almost certainly due to the fact that they had one of MLB’s biggest stars on the show. Perhaps you missed him. A guy named Roger Clemens.

According to their tests, corking actually makes things worse. To paraphrase, the cork in the middle of a bat is supposed to act like a spring, but in fact acts like a force-absorbing sponge. Their tests showed the baseball coming off a corked bat at half the speed of a normal bat. Amazing. I did NOT expect that.

I knew that. BP or someone did a similar study several years ago that showed the advantage, even when they could find a material that gave one, was extremely marginal and that most materials (people have used more than cork…rubber balls, foam, whatever) were a hindrance.

This was one of the few times the Aussie production team really showed themselves. “[After getting caught was a corked bat] Sosa was suspended for five matches”. And they put up graphics with the words “slider ball”. (Sure, other pitches are called “curveball” and “fastball” but a slider is just a slider.

I was hoping that they’d cover whether or not it is faster to run through a base you can overrun, like first and home after proving it is always better to slide when you can’t overrun the base.

That was exactly my chain of thought, as well. I can understand how they don’t want to show us how to, say, make explosives… but why the hell would the MLB be worried about the general public knowing how to cork a bat (especially since the Mythbusters proved that it’s actually worse than a normal bat)?

Edited to add: Kari was looking especially cute in that episode.

What they could do, and what they might try to do, are two different things. Sports journalism talks about teams and players with impunity, as it’s considered to be news reporting. But the team names are considered trademarks of the clubs, and the clubs have assigned the administration of those rights to MLB, so MLB’s lawyers might take the position that use of those trademarks by another party in creating an entertainment product requires permission. Sort of like retailers who have to resort to circumlocutions like “be ready to watch the Big Sunday Game on your new 1000-inch hyperplasma TV” instead of saying “get yerself a new TV in time for the SuperBowl”. If there’s one thing the last 15 years have made clear, it’s that there’s no position so ridiculous or asinine that MLB’s management and lawyers won’t try to take it if they think it serves their purposes.

Like others, I can’t imagine what end they think they’re serving by discouraging disclosure of how to cork a bat (it’s information that’s potentially useful to fewer than about 10,000 people, since only the majors, minors, and a few summer amateur leagues use wooden bats), but I’m sure it has something to do with the “image” or “integrity” of baseball as perceived by Bob DuPuy and his minions.

They’d only need permission to the extent that their use was not fair use. A short clip of an illustration of a player using a corked bat would very likely constitute fair use. But, if the MLB is the only source of a copy of such a clip, they might be able to force Discovery Channel to accept such contractual terms.

A stance that has absolutely no basis in law and would be justifiably laughed at by the Discovery Channel.

Because here they’re free-riding on the goodwill of the NFL’s trademark in order to promote their goods. An equivalent for “Mythbusters” might be for the Discovery Channel to run ads saying, “Watch Mythbusters this week to see the Atlanta Braves demonstrate corked bats.”

I can see why you could overrun home base, but not why you can overrun first base but not second or third base.

Anyone else think that mythbusters was ‘paid’ to prove that corked bats don’t help?

just sayin’.


Nah. You can’t make a bat hit harder by removing mass. It just won’t work. To make the bat hit farther, you’d have to illegally increase the mass, for example by putting a metal rod inside.

What’s the big secret? Drill a hole in a bat, fill it with cork, cover it up?

This easily found article shows exactly how to do it, anyways.

The part in the above article stating that liquid mercury might be the best method is interesting, to say the least.

I thought the point of corking a bat was not to make it more massive, but to allow the batter to achieve increased bat speed by making the bat lighter. More speed=higher velocity with which to hit the ball. Did the MB take bat speed into account?

In your quote, they are not demanding anything, or bringing in lawyers or contracts. Maybe it’s just an agreement. Maybe Mythbusters thought there was no real reason not to do what MLB asked them to. That’s not dictacting content, unless you have a cite that you haven’t cited yet.