Tone deaf

I’m a sportswriter.

I spent nearly 6 1/2 years of my life covering baseball for Sports Illustrated.

I am now a columnist for ESPN.com, where I do much baseball, too.

The statement—”The ball sounds different coming off of his bat.”—is garbage.

I have heard the sound of thousands upon thousands of baseball players hitting balls. Mark McGwire and Rafael Santana. Barry Bonds and Buddy Biancalana. Dave Winfield and Brandon Phillips. Some hit the ball with their bat a little harder, some a little softer. But, factually, there is not a unique sound that comes from, oh, the bat of Josh Hamilton or Ryan Howard. It is something sports broadcasters say because it slips into their minds very easily, and sounds good exiting their mouths. For example, I heard Joe Morgan talk about the sound of the ball leaving Hamilton’s bat, and how unique it is. Really? Different than how it sounded coming off the bats of Johnny Bench and Tony Perez and George Foster?

In sports, we tend to settle for cliches with reckless abandon. From this vantage point, there is no more egregious one. A bat hits a baseball. The sound goes ‘THONK!’ Maybe, if you’re extra strong or juicing or extra strong and juicing, it goes ‘THONKK!!’ But that’s about all.

THONK!

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