Baseball Cleats

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Without baseball cleats, players would have a much harder time negotiating base paths and grass, especially in treacherous conditions. Fields may be completely arid, mildly damp, or saturated--there's no telling what conditions await, especially in the junior ranks where umps and coaches are more likely to simply "let 'em play" no matter what. That's where baseball cleats offer a huge advantage.

Baseball cleats are almost identical to cleats worn in other sports and serve a similar function: namely, to grip the field and give players better traction. Cleats won't help a ballplayer to run faster or slide better (though some nasty players are known to turn up their cleats deliberately when heading feet-first into a base, a trick some umps will punish with ejection). They will, however, allow outfielders to get better jumps on fly balls, infielders to range to their rights and lefts with more confidence, and baserunners to accelerate better along the base paths.

The Skinny on Baseball Cleats

Baseball cleats range in materials and styles but generally consist of metal or molded pegs attached to the toe end of the shoe. This is somewhat different from the cleats worn in football, soccer, and other sports in which the individual cleats are longer and cover the entire sole of the shoe. Baseball cleats generally boast five or six sets of spikes that form a semi-circle from one side of the midsole to the other.

Why the difference? Well, for one thing, when conditions are truly horrid, such as in the middle of a torrential shower, any sane manager or ump will "call" the game. Not so in football, where players are expected to soldier on no matter what and therefore need more aggressive cleats. Additionally, baseball players are more likely to slide feet first than are their football-playing counterparts, which can raise the incidence of serious injury. Hence, the smaller spikes.

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