Tuesday, March 8, 2011

SMALLS TALK: Helmet for Pitchers?

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Say it ain't so, Baseball! A helmet for pitchers? This cannot happen. Nope, no way. I'll fight it for as long as I live.

Come to think of it, that's probably how traditionalists reacted when the first face mask was worn by a catcher, or when hitters started wearing helmets at the plate. Imagine if those changes didn't happen? It'd sure be a lot easier to tell if a guy was a catcher in his playing days, walking down the street looking like the UFC career record-holder for losses.

But still, it can't happen. I know there have been several scary incidents over the past few years, but the truth is, those injuries are freak accidents. Sure, they're a possibility on every single pitch of any game, but by no means do they happen regularly.

The pitcher is a fielder. As insensative as it may sound, he's responsible for fielding his position just like any other player behind him. Yes, he has less reaction time, and his delivery may put him in a vulnerable position, but once the ball is thrown, he is simply one of nine guys playing defense.

I like the steps the NCAA has taken to "deaden" their metal bats (especially since I've already graduated and my home run tallies are already in the books)- it's a responsible movement to get rid of that trampoline effect some bats were providing. If they want to make their bats as similar to wood as they can, I'm all for that. But that's where you stop.

As much as I wouldn't want my own kid out there 60 feet 6 inches away from a Josh Hamilton line drive, it's part of the game. There are collisions in the field, sprained wrists diving into bases, and separated shoulders for catchers trying to protect the plate- for a non-contact sport, there's plenty of risk. Standing out there on that mound is one of them.

I can't blame Easton for wanting to be the first in this market, and they will definitely have their supporters. There are a lot of people out there concerned about pitcher's safety, especially those who have gone through a traumatic incident of their own. Again, maybe this is insensative, but I just don't see it.

Can you picture Cliff Lee sporting one of these, or any pitcher hoping to be taken seriously, for that matter? There is only so much safety prevention you can concern yourself with- after that, you just have to let the boys play.

I don't wan't to be watching a game 20 years down the road and be looking at a mound visit wondering which one's the pitcher and which one's the catcher. This is Step One toward that direction.

Maybe I'm a traditionalist, or a modern traditionalist at least, but I would hate to see a pitcher's helmet sneak its way into the game.

But who knows, maybe I'll feel differently when it's my son out there on the mound. Let's hope he got his mother's arm.

Check out MLU's article on the ridiculous helmets worn in the Minors:
MiLB LIFE: New Helmets Issued, Players Respond "Are You Joking?"

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  1. they should start using the squishy baseballs we had in T-ball. It would really cut down on injuries. Ever caught a hardball in the palm of your glove? OUCH!!

    come to think of it, why did ever baseball that was made of that cheap plastic stuff and would be come all lopsided after one swing have "official league" written on them

  2. Is that Wes Welker sporting that lid?

    I had a buddy in high school who had to wear a similar helmet playing soccer. Looked like an absolute fool.

  3. Keep in mind, it's not about how often it happens, it about the seriousness of the injury. Players recover easily from broken wrists, hands, fingers from sliding, etc. Two days ago I had a 13 year hit by a hard hit ball. It was terrifying. The pitcher is in the most dangerous position on the field. It's not a big deal to protect his head.

    Can anyone make a good case why you shouldn't? What does it hurt to wear some head protection?

    The pros wear those leg guards and elbow guards. Are they wimps? Cop-outs? No, it just makes sense.