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Sunday, October 28, 2012

MLB looks to protect pitchers from line drives - ESPN

A liner I can see. I helmet seems a bit much.

Baseball mandated batting helmets for big leaguers starting in 1971. Players already in the majors could opt not to wear them, and Boston backup catcher Bob Montgomery played until 1979 without one, instead putting a protective plastic lining inside his cap.

Fox broadcaster Tim McCarver watched the replay of the Fister ball and said he thought baseball might need to “resort to helmets for pitchers.”

Philadelphia pitcher Vance Worley heard that remark and tweeted: “Pitchers….wearing helmets….really?”

Last year, Washington shortstop Ian Desmond hit a liner that struck Colorado pitcher Juan Nicasio in the head. Knocked off his feet, Nicasio broke his neck when he fell on the mound.

Desmond also heard McCarver’s suggestion.

“Helmets for pitchers??? Really,” Desmond tweeted.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 28, 2012 at 09:35 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mlb

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   1. Bob Tufts Posted: October 28, 2012 at 10:38 AM (#4285811)
Solutions:

Teach pitchers to follow through properly and not to merely try to throw 100mph and fall off the mound in a defenseless position


Or....

Remove all body armor from batters.

Contract new MLB uniforms to a medieval jousting group

Stop putting fans at risk by selling merchandise, serving food and beverages (especially beer) and distracting them from the imminent danger of foul balls coming their way.

Put up nets like the NHL did and watch players tease fans that want souveniers by throwing the balls against the net.

   2. Mayor Blomberg Posted: October 28, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4285822)
It's obviously not as high-risk as being an NHL goaltender, though had twitter been around the same sort of reaction would have greeted the mandatory mask. I remember the resistance from goalies. We've had a couple of very fortunate pitchers this season; all things considered, Brandon McCarthy was very lucky.
   3. Morton's Fork Posted: October 28, 2012 at 11:49 AM (#4285860)
Really? Helmets on pitchers?
   4. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: October 28, 2012 at 11:55 AM (#4285867)
Put up nets like the NHL did and watch players tease fans that want souveniers by throwing the balls against the net.


I like the supposition that fans would never, ever understand it.
   5. OsunaSakata Posted: October 28, 2012 at 12:27 PM (#4285896)
I was in favor of helmets on base coaches because they are older guys with slower reflexes and may be watching something else like the pitcher or a fielder. As far as protecting pitchers, I'd rather bats don't explode when they break.
   6. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 28, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4285900)
I think Jim's intro makes sense. A liner seems too logical not to be done. I think a helmet is overkill but a liner seems reasonable.
   7. hokieneer Posted: October 28, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4285901)
As far as protecting pitchers, I'd rather bats don't explode when they break.


Yeah it seems like sharp bat shrapnel, which is harder to see and pitchers aren't accustomed to looking for, is much more dangerous than a line drive.
   8. BDC Posted: October 28, 2012 at 12:48 PM (#4285912)
The list of concussed pitchers seems to be growing and the rate increasing: or is that my imagination? This Houston Chronicle story lists Herb Score, and then 40 years till Billy Wagner, and then in the past 15 years Bryce Florie, Matt Clement, and now McCarthy (with Fister being a lucky escape). I think Bob's suggestion in #1 that pitchers are coming off the mound defenselessly might have a lot to do with this, if it's indeed a growing trend and not just growing attention to a problem. The most famously line-drived pitcher before Score was probably Dizzy Dean, though Dean was hit on the foot, and there's a limit to how much you can protect a pitcher against such weird stuff. At least if it hits your foot you'll live.

In Dean's day and still in Score's, if a pitcher came off the mound unready to field a bunt, batters would bunt the daylights out of him – at least many would; not Mel Ott or Ted Williams, but the average schlob looking for a gift base hit. So the Darwinian tendency was probably for the pitcher to stay alert, which in turn prepared him better when the batter hit away. But anymore, batters will not just swing away but swing as hard as they can on every pitch – and that has not had the countervailing effect of forcing the pitchers to land better after a pitch, since as Bob says they have to try to throw 100 to neutralize the hard swings.

I remember watching Jim Kaat pitch in the 1970s, when he wasn't throwing hard at all, just sort of gliding it in and then popping up in the Platonic ideal of a fielding position. But I also remember Steve Carlton on those same teams, throwing very hard, and keeping himself pretty much upright on the followthrough, methodically ready for anything. Carlton was a particular fanatic about form, but I don't think his style was that unusual for hard throwers 35 years ago.
   9. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 28, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4285940)
The list of concussed pitchers seems to be growing and the rate increasing: or is that my imagination


Like so many things I think technology is the answer. Part of it is that with TV we see ALL of these incidents. If the 1935 version of Bryce Florie were hit very few people would have known about it or realized the severity of it. Also we simply recognize concussions more today than we ever did before. The concept of "getting your bell rung" is lost (for the better).
   10. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: October 28, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4285945)
The list of concussed pitchers seems to be growing and the rate increasing: or is that my imagination?


While Paul Maholm was still in the minors, he got hit in the face by a line drive from Casey Rogowski, and broke his orbital bone. Not sure whether anyone outside of Pittsburgh noticed that one or not.

A hat liner obviously wouldn't do much to prevent damage to the face
   11. zachtoma Posted: October 28, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4286060)
A hat liner obviously wouldn't do much to prevent damage to the face


That's why pitchers need to start wearing face masks too. The fans might not like it at first, but they'll get used to it. Come to think of it, maybe Miguel Cabrera should wear a mask when he plays third base too.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: October 28, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4286084)
Yeah it seems like sharp bat shrapnel, which is harder to see and pitchers aren't accustomed to looking for, is much more dangerous than a line drive.

Has any pitcher been seriously hurt (or hurt at all) by a broken bat? I don't recall any.

And something will happen. I caught 5 seconds of rodeo the other day and those guys are wearing goalie masks now. If tough rodeo cowboys can give up the Stetson for a goalie mask, I fail to see the absurdity of a pitcher doing it. (not equating the risk of head injury between the two professions).
   13. The Ghost is getting a Woody Posted: October 28, 2012 at 04:06 PM (#4286085)
A hat liner obviously wouldn't do much to prevent damage to the face


Yes, and Florie got hit in the face, too. However, it would work for some of the incidents, so that's good enough for me. Require a liner. It's a start.

The coach who was killed, Mike Coolbaugh, was struck in the neck, severing an artery. He would not have been saved with anything short of goal mask coverage.

This year, Franklin Guttierez was hit by a pickoff throw, and ended up on the DL with a concussion.
   14. The Ghost is getting a Woody Posted: October 28, 2012 at 04:08 PM (#4286087)
I caught 5 seconds of rodeo the other day and those guys are wearing goalie masks now. If tough rodeo cowboys can give up the Stetson for a goalie mask, I fail to see the absurdity of a pitcher doing it. (not equating the risk of head injury between the two professions).


Finally? Good for them. I thought those guys were the craziest ones. Happy that they came around. Their events probably couldn't get insurance any more without this.
   15. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 28, 2012 at 04:19 PM (#4286097)
Has any pitcher been seriously hurt (or hurt at all) by a broken bat? I don't recall any.

It happened to Joba Chamberlain like two week ago. He came out of the game because of major pain and swelling but I guess it was just a bruise.
   16. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 28, 2012 at 04:59 PM (#4286126)
The article linked to in #8 doesn't have a complete list by any means. Mike Mussina took one in the face that received a lot of publicity.
   17. Bourbon Samurai Posted: October 28, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4286135)
Mike Mussina took one in the face that received a lot of publicity.


That was the scariest one I've ever seen live. I thought he'd lost his eye.
   18. BDC Posted: October 28, 2012 at 05:31 PM (#4286154)
The article linked to in #8 doesn't have a complete list by any means

Interesting. Naturally I'd be more interested in earlier examples, to see whether the trend is indeed accelerating. As Jose says in #9, it's entirely possible that Rube Marquard or somebody used to get hit in the head all the time and John McGraw would just yell at him to rub some dirt on it.
   19. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 28, 2012 at 05:40 PM (#4286162)
It's hard to imagine a form of protection that would be comprehensive. Pitchers just need to dive out of the way more often.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: October 29, 2012 at 02:05 AM (#4287105)
It's hard to imagine a form of protection that would be comprehensive.

Batting practice screen. If the ball hits the screen, the batter's out. Or the batter's safe. Or we let hit/FX measure the speed and trajectory of the ball, calculate the probability it would have been a hit (controlling for Field/FX's placement of the fielder and the 2B/SS fielding metrics) and award hits/outs based on those probabilities.

Or robot pitchers but hopefully not as lifelike as Rivera -- I don't want to see any dangling mechanical eyeballs or anything.

Or Dune-like personal forcefields that only let slow-moving balls (and daggers and bat shards) through.

Or they just switch to Wiffleball as God intended it (Deuteronomy 7:14)
   21. Rants Mulliniks Posted: October 29, 2012 at 07:54 AM (#4287148)
Scutaro had a stylish liner under his hat last night!
   22. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: October 29, 2012 at 08:32 AM (#4287163)
And right on cue, Colon gets hit in the mouth by a line drive in winter ball.
   23. Downtown Bookie Posted: October 29, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4287234)
The article linked to in #8 doesn't have a complete list by any means. Mike Mussina took one in the face that received a lot of publicity.


Indeed. I can still remember Jon Matlack getting knocked out from a line drive off his noggin in a 1973 game.

I think it's an issue deserving of study. Whether or not helmets are the solution, I don't know; but I do think that safety concerns warrant at the least a careful examination of all options available to increase the players' safety, before relexively signing on to the first proposal as the cure-all and considering the problem solved.

DB
   24. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 29, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4287238)
Put up nets like the NHL did and watch players tease fans that want souveniers by throwing the balls against the net.


Some minor league ballparks already do this.

-- MWE
   25. McCoy Posted: October 29, 2012 at 11:53 AM (#4287290)
Move the mound to just in front of second base. Problem solved, next.
   26. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: October 29, 2012 at 12:49 PM (#4287361)
And now, ladies and gentlemen, it's time to meet your starting pitcher for Game 1 of the 2021 World Series.

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