Stephen Baker

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If you buy a baseball bat in the UK, should the police be alerted?

September 27, 2013Hop Skip Go

If you buy a baseball bat in the United States, you're also likely to be in the market for balls and, perhaps, a glove. If you are buying a bat in the UK, one of the most common items is a balaclava. Amazon even offers them as a package (though without a discount).

This data comes from, the company's British Web site. The conclusion doesn't come from hooligans or prejudiced merchants. It is just the data talking: People who buy bats in the UK are also likely to buy masks. They also buy garden choppers, which in other cultures are known as machetes.

Based on this evidence, I would bet that the average customer for a baseball bat in the UK wouldn't know much about drag bunting, much less the infield fly rule. 

This raises important questions about correlation. Would police be justified in creating a registry of baseball bat buyers in the UK? If not, how many UK citizens would favor it? Think about it. Ninety-nine percent of us, with many nines after the decimal, would never dream of bombing an airplane, especially one we're riding in. And yet we're all treated as potential terrorists at the airport. And even to utter a joke at airport security is considered a pretty serious offense. And here the Brits could conceivably come up with a list of people who are likely to buy baseball bats, machetes and masks. Amazon has their names. Are they asking for them? Should they?

You could argue, of course, that the situation is more serious in the United States, where millions of people buy killing weapons and have a Constitutional right to do so. But the sample in the US is so large, and it includes a vast majority of people who buy them to defend themselves, to hunt, to go to target ranges. Millions of Americans believe that their guns defend them from violent people (which is one reason it's so hard to pass gun-control legislation). But is the same true of those who buy bats, masks and machetes in the UK?

As a special bonus, I'm hunted down the lyrics to Balaclava, by the Arctic Monkeys. (YouTube) They don't mention a baseball bat, but you can picture it as part of the violent mix:

Running off over next doors garden

Before the hour is done

It's more a question of feeling

Than it is a question of fun

The confidence is the balaclava

I'm sure you'll baffle 'em good

With the ending wreak of salty cheeks

And runny makeup alone

Oh, will blood run down the face

Of a boy bewildered and scorned

And you'll find yourself in a skirmish

Where you wish you'd never been born

You tie yourself to the tracks

And there isn't no going back

And it's wrong, wrong, wrong

But we'll do it anyway 'cause we love a bit of trouble

Are you pulling her from a burning building

Or throwing her to the sharks?

Can only hope that the ending is a pleasurable as the start

The confidence is the balaclava

I'm sure you baffle 'em straight

And it's wrong, wrong, wrong

She can hardly wait

That's right, he won't let her out his sight

Now the shaggers perform

And the daggers are drawn

Who's the crooks in this crime?


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