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Thread: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

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    Plays The Right Way Hap's Avatar
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    Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    http://www.editorandpublisher.com/ea..._id=1003621797

    Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?


    By Michael Witte

    Published: August 06, 2007 10:45 AM

    NEW YORK (Commentary) Beyond his alleged steroid use, Barry Bonds is guilty of the use of something that confers extraordinarily unfair mechanical advantage: the “armor” that he wears on his right elbow. Amid the press frenzy over Bonds’ unnatural bulk, the true role of the object on his right arm has simply gone unnoticed.

    This is unfortunate, because by my estimate, Bonds’ front arm “armor” may have contributed no fewer than 75 to 100 home runs to his already steroid-questionable total.
    Bonds tied Henry Aaron’s home run record of 755 on Saturday night and will go for the new standard this week back at home in San Francisco.

    As a student of baseball – and currently a mechanics consultant to a major league baseball team -- I believe I have insight into the Bonds "achievement." I have studied his swing countless times on video and examined the mechanical gear closely through photographs.

    For years, sportswriters remarked that his massive "protective" gear – unequaled in all of baseball -- permits Bonds to lean over the plate without fear of being hit by a pitch. Thus situated, Bonds can handle the outside pitch (where most pitchers live) unusually well. This is unfair advantage enough, but no longer controversial. However, it is only one of at least seven (largely unexplored) advantages conferred by the apparatus.

    The other six:

    1) The apparatus is hinged at the elbow. It is a literal "hitting machine" that allows Bonds to release his front arm on the same plane during every swing. It largely accounts for the seemingly magical consistency of every Bonds stroke.

    2) The apparatus locks at the elbow when the lead arm is fully elongated because of a small flap at the top of the bottom section that fits into a groove in the bottom of the top section. The locked arm forms a rigid front arm fulcrum that allows extraordinary, maximally efficient explosion of the levers of Bonds' wrists. Bonds hands are quicker than those of average hitters because of his mechanical "assistant."

    3) When Bonds swings, the weight of the apparatus helps to seal his inner upper arm to his torso at impact. Thus "connected," he automatically hits the ball with the weight of his entire body - not just his arms - as average hitters ("extending") tend to do.

    4) Bonds has performed less well in Home Run Derbies than one might expect because he has no excuse to wear a "protector" facing a batting practice pitcher. As he tires, his front arm elbow tends to lift and he swings under the ball, producing towering pop flies or topspin liners that stay in the park. When the apparatus is worn, its weight keeps his elbow down and he drives the ball with backspin.

    5) Bonds enjoys quicker access to the inside pitch than average hitters because his "assistant" - counter-intuitively - allows him to turn more rapidly. Everyone understands that skaters accelerate their spins by pulling their arms into their torsos, closer to their axes of rotation. When Bonds is confronted with an inside pitch, he spins like a skater because his upper front arm is "assistant"-sealed tightly against the side of his chest.

    6) At impact, Bonds has additional mass (the weight of his "assistant") not available to the average hitter. The combined weight of "assistant" and bat is probably equal to the weight of the lumber wielded by Babe Ruth but with more manageable weight distribution.

    At the moment, Bonds' apparatus enjoys "grandfathered" status. Similar devices are presently denied to average
    major leaguers, who must present evidence of injury before receiving an exemption.

    Bonds has worn some sort of front arm protection since 1992. In '94, a one-piece forearm guard was replaced by a jointed, two piece elbow model. In ‘95 it got bigger and a small "cap" on the elbow was replaced by a "flap" that overlapped the upper piece and locked the two pieces together when the arm was elongated. In '96, the "apparatus" grew even larger and so did the "flap."

    It seems to have remained relatively the same until -- interestingly— 2001, the year of his record 73 home runs, when an advanced model appeared made (apparently) of a new material. It had softer edges and a groove for the flap to slip into automatically at full arm elongation. More important, the upper half of the machine was sculpted to conform more comfortably to the contours of Bonds' upper arm. Since 2001, the apparatus seems to have remained relatively unchanged.

    Several years back, baseball was rightfully scandalized by the revelation that Sammy Sosa had "corked" his bat. The advantages conferred by the Bonds "hitting machine," however, far exceed anything supplied by cork. Ultimately, it appears the Bonds "achievement” must be regarded as partly the product of “double duplicity" -- steroidal and mechanical.
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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    Very interesting. I always thought the armor was an unfair advantage but I didn't realize that it could actually help with his swing.
    Last edited by Chip R; 08-06-2007 at 07:44 PM.
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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    BS- it's only an advantage if it's illegal or no one else has access.

    I dislike Bonds as much as the next ordinary guy does. But this is getting out of hand. The guy is the best hitter I have ever seen in my life, steroids or no. I never got a chance to see Ted Williams hit, but he may have been the only other pure hitter to compare to Bonds since the days of Ruth and Gehrig.

    And Ruth and Gehrig had the advantage of facing vastly inferior pitching, IMO.

    Again, I am not a Bonds fan, I think it's pretty clear he took steroids, and he's certainly one of the biggest jerks around in pro sports.

    But I have a certain amount of respect for what he has done on the field. I know legion here will disagree with me, and even flame me. But he did not do what he did in a vacuum, he did it in an era where many, many ballplayers did it. That's no excuse, and I am no fan of his, but I have a degree of respect for the numbers he has posted. I have not watched his chase on TV at all, like I did in the late 90's with McGwire and Bonds himself 3 years later.

    His "elbow armor" has nothing at all to do with this. IIRC, everyone's hero, Craig Biggio, wears similar armor.
    Last edited by Always Red; 08-06-2007 at 07:47 PM.

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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    Personally, I think Barry Bonds' HR record is tainted by his genes and access to guys like McCovey, Mays as a child.....
    "This isn’t stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Always Red View Post
    BS- it's only an advantage if it's illegal or no one else has access.

    I dislike Bonds as much as the next ordinary guy does. But this is getting out of hand. The guy is the best hitter I have ever seen in my life, steroids or no. I never got a chance to see Ted Williams hit, but he may have been the only other pure hitter to compare to Bonds since the days of Ruth and Gehrig.

    And Ruth and Gehrig had the advantage of facing vastly inferior pitching, IMO.

    Again, I am not a Bonds fan, I think it's pretty clear he took steroids, and he's certainly one of the biggest jerks around in pro sports.

    But I have a certain amount of respect for what he has done on the field. I know legion here will disagree with me, and even flame me. But he did not do what he did in a vacuum, he did it in an era where many, many ballplayers did it. That's no excuse, and I am no fan of his, but I have a degree of respect for the numbers he has posted. I have not watched his chase on TV at all, like I did in the late 90's with McGwire and Bonds himself 3 years later.

    His "elbow armor" has nothing at all to do with this. IIRC, everyone's hero, Craig Biggio, wears similar armor.
    Just because everyone else has been doing it or has access to it don't make it right.

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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hap View Post
    http://www.editorandpublisher.com/ea..._id=1003621797

    Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?


    By Michael Witte

    Published: August 06, 2007 10:45 AM

    NEW YORK (Commentary) Beyond his alleged steroid use, Barry Bonds is guilty of the use of something that confers extraordinarily unfair mechanical advantage: the “armor” that he wears on his right elbow. Amid the press frenzy over Bonds’ unnatural bulk, the true role of the object on his right arm has simply gone unnoticed.

    This is unfortunate, because by my estimate, Bonds’ front arm “armor” may have contributed no fewer than 75 to 100 home runs to his already steroid-questionable total.
    Bonds tied Henry Aaron’s home run record of 755 on Saturday night and will go for the new standard this week back at home in San Francisco.

    As a student of baseball – and currently a mechanics consultant to a major league baseball team -- I believe I have insight into the Bonds "achievement." I have studied his swing countless times on video and examined the mechanical gear closely through photographs.

    For years, sportswriters remarked that his massive "protective" gear – unequaled in all of baseball -- permits Bonds to lean over the plate without fear of being hit by a pitch. Thus situated, Bonds can handle the outside pitch (where most pitchers live) unusually well. This is unfair advantage enough, but no longer controversial. However, it is only one of at least seven (largely unexplored) advantages conferred by the apparatus.

    The other six:

    1) The apparatus is hinged at the elbow. It is a literal "hitting machine" that allows Bonds to release his front arm on the same plane during every swing. It largely accounts for the seemingly magical consistency of every Bonds stroke.

    2) The apparatus locks at the elbow when the lead arm is fully elongated because of a small flap at the top of the bottom section that fits into a groove in the bottom of the top section. The locked arm forms a rigid front arm fulcrum that allows extraordinary, maximally efficient explosion of the levers of Bonds' wrists. Bonds hands are quicker than those of average hitters because of his mechanical "assistant."

    3) When Bonds swings, the weight of the apparatus helps to seal his inner upper arm to his torso at impact. Thus "connected," he automatically hits the ball with the weight of his entire body - not just his arms - as average hitters ("extending") tend to do.

    4) Bonds has performed less well in Home Run Derbies than one might expect because he has no excuse to wear a "protector" facing a batting practice pitcher. As he tires, his front arm elbow tends to lift and he swings under the ball, producing towering pop flies or topspin liners that stay in the park. When the apparatus is worn, its weight keeps his elbow down and he drives the ball with backspin.

    5) Bonds enjoys quicker access to the inside pitch than average hitters because his "assistant" - counter-intuitively - allows him to turn more rapidly. Everyone understands that skaters accelerate their spins by pulling their arms into their torsos, closer to their axes of rotation. When Bonds is confronted with an inside pitch, he spins like a skater because his upper front arm is "assistant"-sealed tightly against the side of his chest.

    6) At impact, Bonds has additional mass (the weight of his "assistant") not available to the average hitter. The combined weight of "assistant" and bat is probably equal to the weight of the lumber wielded by Babe Ruth but with more manageable weight distribution.

    At the moment, Bonds' apparatus enjoys "grandfathered" status. Similar devices are presently denied to average
    major leaguers, who must present evidence of injury before receiving an exemption.

    Bonds has worn some sort of front arm protection since 1992. In '94, a one-piece forearm guard was replaced by a jointed, two piece elbow model. In ‘95 it got bigger and a small "cap" on the elbow was replaced by a "flap" that overlapped the upper piece and locked the two pieces together when the arm was elongated. In '96, the "apparatus" grew even larger and so did the "flap."

    It seems to have remained relatively the same until -- interestingly— 2001, the year of his record 73 home runs, when an advanced model appeared made (apparently) of a new material. It had softer edges and a groove for the flap to slip into automatically at full arm elongation. More important, the upper half of the machine was sculpted to conform more comfortably to the contours of Bonds' upper arm. Since 2001, the apparatus seems to have remained relatively unchanged.

    Several years back, baseball was rightfully scandalized by the revelation that Sammy Sosa had "corked" his bat. The advantages conferred by the Bonds "hitting machine," however, far exceed anything supplied by cork. Ultimately, it appears the Bonds "achievement” must be regarded as partly the product of “double duplicity" -- steroidal and mechanical.
    Thanks for that post, Hap. That is some fascinating stuff, particularly after reading so many books on the mechanics of hitting.
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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    Yes, it's very interesting. I think it'd be unfair only in that players in the past could not have had access to anything like this.

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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Always Red View Post
    BS- it's only an advantage if it's illegal or no one else has access.

    I dislike Bonds as much as the next ordinary guy does. But this is getting out of hand. The guy is the best hitter I have ever seen in my life, steroids or no. I never got a chance to see Ted Williams hit, but he may have been the only other pure hitter to compare to Bonds since the days of Ruth and Gehrig.

    And Ruth and Gehrig had the advantage of facing vastly inferior pitching, IMO.

    Again, I am not a Bonds fan, I think it's pretty clear he took steroids, and he's certainly one of the biggest jerks around in pro sports.

    But I have a certain amount of respect for what he has done on the field. I know legion here will disagree with me, and even flame me. But he did not do what he did in a vacuum, he did it in an era where many, many ballplayers did it. That's no excuse, and I am no fan of his, but I have a degree of respect for the numbers he has posted. I have not watched his chase on TV at all, like I did in the late 90's with McGwire and Bonds himself 3 years later.

    His "elbow armor" has nothing at all to do with this. IIRC, everyone's hero, Craig Biggio, wears similar armor.
    It is illegal to everyone else unless you get special permission from the comis. Even then it would be a scaled down model from what Bonds uses his has been grandfathered. His should have been out lawed as soon as his arm had healed. If allows him to maintain his mechanics in his swing other than protect his arm it should be illegal by baseball rules.

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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    Brilliant.

    Hank Aaron's record shouldn't count either, because he got to wear a helmet. That must have given him more confidence than Ruth, right?

    Body armor is a good thing. It keeps players from getting hurt. MLB could easily counteract the advantage to the hitter by instructing umpires not to award a hitter first base if he is hit on or near his body armor.
    How, then, are those people of the future—who are taking steroids every day—going to look back on baseball players who used steroids? They're going to look back on them as pioneers. They're going to look back at it and say "So what?" - Bill James, Cooperstown and the 'Roids

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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    Quote Originally Posted by cincinnati chili View Post
    Brilliant.

    Hank Aaron's record shouldn't count either, because he got to wear a helmet. That must have given him more confidence than Ruth, right?

    Body armor is a good thing. It keeps players from getting hurt. MLB could easily counteract the advantage to the hitter by instructing umpires not to award a hitter first base if he is hit on or near his body armor.
    It appears you totally missed a major point in the article. The "body armor" helps Bonds' swing.

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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    I'm not buying it. It's allowd by baseball to me this doesn't taint anything. Same as steroids. Everyone did it and just because of the record and the type of person Bonds is creates all this. I just want it to be over. Bonds is a great player and is still hitting HRs and they test him all the time now. Haven't they been testing since 2002?
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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    from Will Carroll at Baseball Prospectus:

    This article is so ludicrous that I can only read it if I hear it in Mike Tyson’s voice.

    Seriously, I’ve had so many emails today asking me what I thought of it — quick answer: very little — that I feel it easier to address here than waiting for tomorrow’s UTK. Let’s stomp out this emerging meme before it gains any more traction.

    Simply put, this is incorrect. Bonds wears a customized brace, but one that is within the standards. (NOTE: This previously stated that Bonds wore a Franklin brace. While Bonds endorses Franklin products, he does not actually wear them. My error.) The brace is worn to protect Bonds’ surgically repaired elbow and meets all conditions and regulations put forth by MLB and has since he wore it.

    The contortions people will go to in order to discredit Bonds makes me want to order one of these, to protect me when I beat my head against the wall in frustration.
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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    The guy is the best hitter I have ever seen in my life, steroids or no.
    I don't think Bonds was the best hitter you've ever seen in your life before 2000.

    So "steroids or no" doesn't jive with the comment. The 'roids helped or he wouldn't have taken them.
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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    Seems like I read he took the roids to feel stronger. Alot like many players take speed to wake them up. It's just accepted and at that time in baseball everyone was doing it. The fact is he hasn't been taking them for a long time and we don't even know how much he did, but you still have to get the sweet spot on the bat and hit it out. I still think the babe has the true record. Bigger ballparks, soft ball, etc. He had more HRs himself then whole teams. The true power hitter was the BABE.
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    Re: Commentary: Barry Bonds' HR Record Tainted by Elbow 'Armor'?

    Seems like I read he took the roids to feel stronger.
    Yeah, they provide a mental edge. All those years before he won the MVP, Ken Caminiti just didn't "feel strong."

    Alot like many players take speed to wake them up.
    Speed caused many baseball records to fall over the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

    It's just accepted and at that time in baseball everyone was doing it.
    Maybe if enough of these guys get bionic arms implanted, that can be accepted, too. As long as "they're all doing it."

    The fact is he hasn't been taking them for a long time and we don't even know how much he did,
    So we don't know how much he did, but we know he hasn't been taking them for a long time.

    but you still have to get the sweet spot on the bat and hit it out
    And I guess it would certainly help if you had some extra help when that bat hits the spot.
    If you're watchin' a parade, make sure you stand in one spot, don't follow it, it never changes. And if the parade is boring, run in the opposite direction, you will fast-foward the parade. --Mitch Hedberg


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