Updated: July 3, 2024

The Permanent “Temporary” Suspension of the Hype Fire

Bat Banning Drama and the Weird Around the Hype Fire Banning

This isn't the first time The Perfect Game has banned a bat still approved by USSSA. But it is the first time they banned a popular bat while simultaneously parterning with a competing bat company that, by all accounts, doesn't perform much differently.

The Perfect Game banned the Drop 5 Hype Fire bat on April 8th, 2024, citing “safety and integrity.” Easton, the bat’s maker, claims they didn’t know about the ban until it was announced, although Batdigest heard about it the day before. Easton pointed out that the bat is still legal under USSSA rules and questioned why PG didn’t inform them first. Despite promising updates, none have been provided for almost three months, making the ban seem permanent.

The Perfect Game has unilaterally banned bats before, even those still approved by USSSA. But in a suspicious twist of marketing fate, around the time PG was (not) informing Easton their bat was to be banned, The Perfect Game also announced they had teamed up with an Easton rival company, Soldier Sports, to push a bat that compares similarly with the Hype. In a self-regulated industry backed by a billion-dollar industry, these kinds of coincidences seem all too familiar.

Time Line of Events

April 7th, 2024

On Sunday, April 7th of this year, a source informed us that The Perfect Game would ban the drop 5 Hype Fire on April 8th. The following day, PG announced the ban, citing “safety and integrity” as major factors. The Hype Fire was suspended from all PG events until further notice.

April 8th, 2024

PG sent out this email:

April 12th, 2024

Easton stated they “became aware on Monday” (a day after we did) of PG’s decision to suspend the Hype Fire drop 5. They emphasized that PG’s announcement was made without prior discussion or notification to them and pointed out that the bat remains USSSA legal, with the ban only affecting The Perfect Game events.

It seems odd that Easton was left in the dark until after us. Even stranger is that PG unilaterally banned a bat that is still perfectly legal under USSSA rules.

April 20th, 2024

a week after Easton announced they were unaware, they committed to providing updates on PG’s “temporary suspension” of the Hype Fire -5. However, nearly three months have passed without any updates, and the ban appears to be more than temporary.

Adding to the intrigue, The Perfect Game entered into an “exclusive” partnership with Soldier Sports, a relatively unknown company that produced a USSSA bat. In a press release earlier this year, PG stated: “We found a partner in Soldier Sports that doesn’t settle for their products being anything less than the best, and the Soldier TANK bat exemplifies their commitment to excellence.”

Given that the Easton Hype Fire is banned only at PG events but remains a legal USSSA bat (clearly the best legal performer in their minds), it seems questionable to suggest that the Tank was chosen solely for its superior quality. That sentiment has made more than a few wonder if the integrity of the agreement between PG and Soldier Sports had more sway than the integrity of the game.

In any case, the banning of the Hype Fire, and the subsequent silence from pretty much everyone on the topic, adds to an ever-growing list of oddities in the industry. Of course, we’ll likely never know, but we assume more than a few attorneys between The Perfect Game and Rawlings Inc. (who owns Easton) have shared correspondence.