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Friday, May 10, 2013

J.R. Gamble: Chill With The Pitcher’s Helmet Talk

Hey, take it easy…probably only Scott Radinsky and Jack McDowell ever discussed early Amphetamine Reptile sides.

The average pitcher is more likely to die in a car crash over his lifetime then get hit in the head by a line drive during his MLB career.

If this is where society is going, then we have a lot of other culprits to fix before we start imposing more safety legislation on baseball.

Let’s ban the X-games, where Snowmobiler Caleb Moore died in January, as a result of injuries he suffered. Let’s get rid of strongman contests, where guys get vicious hernias and vomit up intestines. Don’t forgetskydiving and NASCAR. Girls’ soccer is a concussion factory .

Former pitcher and ESPN analyst Curt Schilling is for the protective gear, citing the increased strength of today’s player and speed of the ball and how today’s baseballs are wound tighter like a pool ball.

He’s part of a contingent that believes Commissioner Bud Selig isn’t doing enough to prevent injuries like Happ’s.

It’s hard to expect a pitcher beyond the high school level to acknowledge protective head gear as anything but cumbersome and intrusive to the task.

...The expression, “no pain, no gain,” was made for world class athletes. That’s why Happ was back, chilling at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after suffering a skull fracture.

The public’s reverence and infatuation with pro athletes heavily lies in its belief that losing blood, sweat, tears, teeth and brain cells is part of the heroic and lucrative undertaking.

So while a pitcher might meet his death one day on the pitcher’s mound—or on the way to the store, hiking in the Himalayas, or planking, drunk on a skyscraper—it really is just part of the game.

Chill out and let the players do what they do.

Repoz Posted: May 10, 2013 at 05:32 AM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. Flynn Posted: May 10, 2013 at 06:40 AM (#4439291)
Pitchers dying isn't part of the game, but nobody's ever died. There's no evidence this is happening more often and pitchers themselves don't really want to wear helmets. Every incident where something dangerous happens in sports is not a crisis that involves radical change.
   2. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: May 10, 2013 at 06:59 AM (#4439292)
The average pitcher is more likely to die in a car crash over his lifetime then get hit in the head by a line drive during his MLB career.

And you are more likely to die of cancer, than in a car crash, so ### seatbelts and airbags, amirite?

Let’s ban the X-games, where Snowmobiler Caleb Moore died in January, as a result of injuries he suffered. Let’s get rid of strongman contests, where guys get vicious hernias and vomit up intestines. Don’t forgetskydiving and NASCAR. Girls’ soccer is a concussion factory .

Non sequitur. Nobody has suggested getting rid of baseball, or any of those events. They have suggest wearing a helmet. If you can take reasonable steps to making an activity safer, without fundamentally changing it, then there is really no reason not to.

Pitchers dying isn't part of the game, but nobody's ever died. There's no evidence this is happening more often and pitchers themselves don't really want to wear helmets. Every incident where something dangerous happens in sports is not a crisis that involves radical change.

It's not a "radical" change. It's a ##### helmet.
   3. Drexl Spivey Posted: May 10, 2013 at 07:05 AM (#4439293)
Pitchers dying isn't part of the game


Well of course pitchers dying their hair isn't part of the game.

(I can't resist using a modified Phil Hartman joke)
   4. John Northey Posted: May 10, 2013 at 08:03 AM (#4439310)
While we're at it lets remove batting helmets as players went without for a century with only one guy dying from it. Protective cups? C'mon, a player who can't protect himself shouldn't be in the majors, or at least not on the field. And so on.

Sigh. These macho guys who say any protection is a negative need a kick in the rear. I figure if during the offseason you gave pitchers the helmets and told them it was mandatory from now on then by the end of spring training they'd all be used to it. Hitters got used to helmets, I'm sure pitchers could too.
   5. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 10, 2013 at 08:50 AM (#4439337)
These "why do we worry about X when Y is still a problem" arguments are ridiculous. Just because people don't die doesn't mean they don't get seriously injured and have their careers and lives changed.

I'm fine with not going with a full helmet. That could be a balance and comfort issue that could make pitchers less effective and more importantly could put them in a position to be injured some other way. The plastic insert on a soft cap seems like a very reasonable thing though.

A couple of other things that MLB seems like it should do;

- enforce the on deck circle. How this wasn't done in the wake of the Juan Encarnacion situation is beyond me.

- steel toed shoes. Maybe not exactly steel toed but something a bit more protective for the top of a hitters foot seems reasonable.

- unpadded walls anywhere. I like the look of the brick at places like Camden Yards behind the plate but do we really need someone going face first into a brick wall to realize maybe it isn't the best idea?

- exposed and in play bullpens (e.g. Tampa). It is ridiculous that an outfielder potentially has to run over a mound and through players in the field of play to field a baseball (and yes, Tal's Hill should go too).

/end soap box rant
   6. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: May 10, 2013 at 09:09 AM (#4439350)
While we're at it lets remove batting helmets as players went without for a century with only one guy dying from it. Protective cups? C'mon, a player who can't protect himself shouldn't be in the majors, or at least not on the field. And so on.

Sigh. These macho guys who say any protection is a negative need a kick in the rear.

Well, if we have taken their cups awat, I say approach the kick from the other side...
   7. eddieot Posted: May 10, 2013 at 09:42 AM (#4439389)
I got a Repoz reference! I got a Repoz reference!

Sorry. I take great pleasure in small victories.
   8. SG Posted: May 10, 2013 at 10:03 AM (#4439416)
Haven't most of the pitchers that have been hit gotten hit in places where a helmet wouldn't have really helped all that much? If they really want to protect a pitcher's head they may need to go with a hockey-goalie style mask similar to the ones Charlie O'Brien helped design, no?
   9. ColonelTom Posted: May 10, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4439447)
There are frequently travel girls' softball games in the park next to my house. Most, if not all, of the pitchers and infielders wear masks. It does not fundamentally change the game.

Obviously there are design challenges in protecting baseball pitchers. In addition to comfort, peripheral vision is a major issue, as once you get to a level where leading is allowed, the pitcher must be able to hold baserunners. That's likely a solvable design issue, though, not something from which you simply throw up your hands and walk away.
   10. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 10, 2013 at 10:27 AM (#4439452)
Haven't most of the pitchers that have been hit gotten hit in places where a helmet wouldn't have really helped all that much? If they really want to protect a pitcher's head they may need to go with a hockey-goalie style mask similar to the ones Charlie O'Brien helped design, no?


Probably. One potential side benefit of having the protective helmet would be a designed way of getting to avoid being hit. Right now the only options are catch the ball or duck quickly. With the protective head gear one could have the third option of ducking into the ball so to speak. Sort of similar to the way BP pitchers just duck behind the screen.
   11. John Northey Posted: May 10, 2013 at 12:03 PM (#4439564)
A lot of the complaints are really baseless if you think about it. Look at hockey, goalies went without helmets into the 1970's (yes, some were playing early 70's without still) but top goalies today have amazing save percentages and can see side to side perfectly well. Same with players on the ice - most are still too 'macho' to wear a facemask but in junior leagues you still see amazing plays with the full mask. Hockey is a sport where speed and seeing stuff is far, far more vital than for a pitcher in baseball. If they can wear it, so can pitchers. As to weight and stuff, that is just a matter of getting used to it. Mandate it during an offseason and by the end of spring everyone would be used to it (or enough to endure it).
   12. Greg K Posted: May 10, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4439577)
Well, if we have taken their cups awat, I say approach the kick from the other side...

I freely admit to catching 10-15 games over the past year or two without a cup. Though that's more laziness and stupidity than machoness.

I'd also be all for some kind of mandatory protective insert measure to be taken for pitchers. I don't really see the downside.
   13. McCoy Posted: May 10, 2013 at 12:23 PM (#4439583)
Somehow I read machoness like majones and now I think that really should be a new phrase. The definition should be along the lines of "when you take chances with your testicles to prove you are a man" or something along those lines.
   14. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: May 10, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4439754)
With the protective head gear one could have the third option of ducking into the ball so to speak. Sort of similar to the way BP pitchers just duck behind the screen.


Basically, when a ball is hit that hard you don't have any options.

I'm not against some kind of unobtrusive cap liner, but there's no need to go overboard here.
   15. valuearbitrageur Posted: May 10, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4439991)
I freely admit to catching 10-15 games over the past year or two without a cup. Though that's more laziness and stupidity than machoness.


We always did the same thing on my teams.

Make the lazy and stupid play catcher, that is.

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