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City Council might have votes to override bat veto

NEW YORK -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday he'll veto a
bill passed last month to outlaw metal bats from high school
baseball in the nation's largest school system, which some believe
would make the game safer.

"I don't know whether aluminum bats are more dangerous or less
dangerous," Bloomberg said. "But I don't think it's the city's
business to regulate that."

It appeared, however, that the New York City Council would have
enough votes to override a veto. The bill passed last month 40-6,
so it likely has support for the necessary two-thirds majority. The
council is expected to take it up this month.

Sponsors of New York City's bill say that non-wood bats make
faster and harder hits, and that this can be dangerous for young
players in the path of the balls. Some say they can be injured
because they have less time to react.

Opponents of the City Council's measure, including Little League
Baseball and sporting goods makers, say there is no scientific
evidence proving metal bats pose more of a risk. They say the
anti-metal movement relies on emotional anecdotes over concrete
data, and some have indicated they will take the matter to court.

The question has been debated for about as long as metal bats
have been in use since the 1970s. In 2005, an American Legion
Baseball study found no substantial scientific proof to support the
argument that wooden bats are safer than metal bats.

Councilman Lewis Fidler, a co-sponsor of the measure, said
Monday that city officials "are responsible for the health and
safety of these kids."

"If not us, then who?" he said.

Bloomberg said the decision about which type of bats to use
should be left to those in charge of youth leagues, and not
lawmakers.

"There are risks in everything," he said. "We want to reduce
the risks as much as possible -- we don't want to destroy tradition
of the game, but that's up for the people running the sports."

He said professional players have called him and argued both
sides of the case.

While the measure was being considered by the council, former
New York Mets relief pitcher John Franco testified in support of
the ban, while Yankees starting pitcher Mike Mussina came out
against it.

Little League praised the mayor on Monday in a statement from
president and CEO Stephen D. Keener.

"We applaud Mayor Bloomberg for concluding that the governing
organizations of youth baseball should be the ones to assess safety
issues in their sport and govern accordingly," he said.