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In baseball, why do batters pound the plate with the bat?

Dear Cecil:

In baseball, why do batters always pound the plate with the bat when they step up to hit?

D.H., Chicago

Cecil replies:

Cecil replies:

If I put my mind to it, I imagine I could cook up some pop-anthropological explanation about how it’s an aggressiveness display, like bulls pawing the earth before charging. However, there’s a simpler explanation: you hit the plate with the bat to gauge the distance, the better to get yourself positioned properly.

Cecil Adams

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.