Do you remember the line drive Tampa Bay Ray's Alex Cobb took to the head? You can watch the terrifying video HERE. It was scary for everyone involved. It was scary for me just watching it. Of course he isn't the only pitcher to have ever taken a line drive to the head. JA Happ of the Blue Jays took a pretty nasty line drive to the face that fractured his skull. It's extremely unsettling when it happens.
Last Saturday, Alex Torres became the first pitcher to wear the protective hat designed for pitchers. The cap that the MLB approved in January is designed to keep pitchers safe in case of a line drive come backer. Torres came in after Cobb on that day last year. He knows how terrifying it could be to watch your teammate go down, and wonder if he will be okay. He might look a little ridiculous, but after what he witnessed first hand, I cannot blame him at all.
The safety of professional athletes has become a major issue in in sports in recent years. In the MLB alone we have the new home plate collusion rule. With new information regarding the seriousness of the repercussions of concussion being released, along with a number of lawsuits by players against the NFL, pro-sports is taking player safety serious. These pitchers hats are just the next step. Of course they aren't mandatory yet. There is no telling when, or if they will become mandatory. This isn't the first change to head gear.
Batting helmets became mandatory incredibly late in the history of baseball. Even after the death of Ray Chapman, batting helmets had yet to be in use. The Dodgers used them in 1941 after two players were injured. In 1953 Don Zimmer took a pitch to the temple that knocked him unconscious. He had to undergo surgery, and remained unconscious for two weeks. Still they did not become mandatory until 1971.
I know some people take issue with these pitchers hats. But I'm sure there were people who took issue with batting helmets, catchers face mask, and chest plates, and a number of other protective measures. I understand that some fans, particularly older fans that are used to players without batting gloves, and pitchers going all 9 innings, believe that this softens the game. But I do hope that with time everyone will see this for what it is. A way to keep these players as safe as humanly possible without wrapping them in bubble wrap. My enjoyment of the game is not more important that the physical well being, and overall safety of these players. Again, it remains an option, it is not yet mandatory. There are some flaws in the hat that need to be perfected, but I think it is a great idea to implement these hats, and make them readily available for pitchers.
--Erica Morales BYB Senior Writer
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