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October 30, 2022

World Series: FOX Sports casually drops that Astros' Martín Maldonado had an illegal bat in Game 1

So, pretty bizarre revelation by the FOX broadcast team during Game 2 of the World Series Saturday night.

As Astros catcher Martín Maldonado stepped into the batter's box in the bottom of the second inning, field reporter Tom Verducci casually dropped that Maldonado was using an illegal bat in Game 1. 

No punishment though. Major League Baseball apparently just told him to change it. 

Verducci's segment on the FOX broadcast Saturday night, via Crossing Broad:

"Yeah, Martín Maldonado was using a different bat today here in Game 2. He found out from MLB today that the bat he used last night was not a legal bat. It was a model he had obtained from Albert Pujols, and he used it because he thought it was very similar in size and weight to his own model. The barrel, he said, was slightly bigger. He also thought it was a way to honor the baseball legend who is, of course, retiring with the close of this season. 

"But here's the catch to it, guys. In 2010, Major League Baseball changed the bat specifications, and that bat, that Pujols model, was no longer legal except if you were playing prior to 2010, it was grandfathered in. So Albert Pujols can use that bat, but Maldonado, who began his Major League career in 2011, was not legally able to use that bat." [FOX Sports / Crossing Broad]


I'm sorry, what?

Maldonado went 1-3 in Game 1 with an RBI single in the second. The Phillies ultimately won, 6-5, after 10 innings, so the easy argument that it didn't actually matter is there. 

The thing is, when it's a Houston Astro involved, it kind of becomes a way bigger concern by default because of the 2017 sign-stealing scandal, a dark, trash-can shaped cloud over the franchise that it may never fully escape. 

Commentators Joe Davis and John Smoltz weirdly just laughed off the story.

The defining of and potential punishment for an illegal bat, according to last season's edition of the MLB rulebook:

He uses or attempts to use a bat that, in the umpire’s judgment, has been altered or tampered with in such a way to improve the distance factor or cause an unusual reaction on the baseball. This includes bats that are filled, flat-surfaced, nailed, hollowed, grooved or covered with a substance such as paraffin, wax, etc.

(1) No advancement on the bases will be allowed (except advancements that are not caused by the use of an illegal bat, e,g., stolen base, balk, wild pitch, passed ball), and any out or outs made during a play shall stand. In addition to being called out, the player shall be ejected from the game and may be subject to additional penalties as determined by the Office of the Commissioner.

*Rule 6.03(a)(5) Comment: A batter shall be deemed to have used or attempted to use an illegal bat if he brings such a bat into the batter’s box. [2021 MLB Rulebook]

Maldonado was never called out nor ejected, just asked to switch bats. As of this writing, he's 0-2 with a strikeout in Game 2.

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