Baseball is becoming hugely safety-conscious these days. It makes sense given all the discussion about head injuries and whether sports are safe for young kids. People are worried about this stuff more than ever, and anything you can do as a company to push a safety-first agenda, well that’s just good PR.
Some of these moves are mostly cosmetic in my eyes. Will removing home plate collisions really make much of a difference when it comes to injuries, particularly those to the head? It doesn’t seem so, given the rarity of such plays, and how seldom the head actually becomes involved.
One new rule though could have much more than a cosmetic impact, it could really remove some terrible injury possibilities from the game. This new rule would allow pitchers to wear helmets on the mound.
The scoop on this comes from a guy who has plenty of unfortunate experience with head injuries. Brandon McCarthy was struck in the head with a line-drive back in 2012 and suffered a serious concussion. McCarthy was speaking to Jimmy Traina on his podcast when the subject of protective headgear for pitchers came up.
“They’re coming,” McCarthy said. “From everything I know they’ll be available this year. I don’t believe they’re going to be mandatory. Actually, I’m almost certain they won’t be mandatory.
“I did get a chance to sit down with the head MLB doctor last year during spring training, who’s overseeing the whole thing, and it has been a high priority for them. It’s just that there has been very few answers. We both agreed on it not being mandatory at the time, there’s just no need to do that. But whatever gets proposed has to be correct or we’re not really doing too much.”
These helmets will not be traditional batting-style helmets but will look more like regular hats. McCarthy says that, had he possessed such headgear back in 2012, he would not have suffered the injury he suffered.
Pitching helmets may upset the purists, but I think it’s a good move. Unlike the home plate collision rule, this one actually touches on something that happens with a fair amount of frequency and has affected quite a few careers.
Of course head injuries can’t be totally removed from the game because a lot of it goes back to style of play. You can’t do much to protect the guys like Ryan Freel who just go out there like maniacs. But pitchers are helpless when the ball is coming back at their heads and it only makes sense to do as much as you can to reduce their risk. If batters get helmets, why not pitchers?