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Remember that talk about pitcher helmets last year?

Sep 10, 2012, 2:34 PM EDT

First, an update on Brandon McCarthy, via his wife:

Jeez, Brandon. Walking right out of the gate? POUND THE ZONE!

Seriously: great news that all of the parts seem to be working properly.

Anyway, on to an article from this morning from Dustin Parkes about pitcher helmets, which reminds us that (a) technology exists that can help protect pitchers from traumatic injury via comebackers; but (b) the way people and sports work often means that such advances come slowly, albeit understandably so given the way the market works and human nature operates.

Most of us first heard about the pitcher helmets in the spring of 2011.  I wrote about it then. At the time I said that it would work an awful lot like those larger batting helmets worked a couple of years ago. And regular batting helmets before that. And every other safety measure in most walks of life: a pattern in which we begin with mockery, then move on to outrage, denial, grudging acceptance, and then finally acceptance.

Ultimately, all that will matter is if pitchers’ mechanics are the same with it and without it.  If so, players will be wearing them soon enough. If not, they’ll go on to the next thing.

UPDATE: Will Carroll talks about helmets in his latest column, just out today. He has another potential solution that may be more workable than helmets.

  1. stex52 - Sep 10, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Got to be a good step forward. All the best to the McCarthy’s.

  2. tjg25 - Sep 10, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Why is allowing a pitcher to wear a helmet any different than allowing elbow guards for hitters?

    • clydeserra - Sep 10, 2012 at 3:06 PM

      I don’t think “allowing” is going to be the problem.

      Getting people like Rob dibble to not only wear one, but not mock those that do is going to be the problem

      • ThisIsBaseball - Sep 10, 2012 at 4:39 PM

        Simple: You mock it, you’re fired. End of story.

    • scatterbrian - Sep 10, 2012 at 5:58 PM

      Apologies if you are being sarcastic, but it’s the same as allowing batters to wear helmets.

  3. bengalsfan19 - Sep 10, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    stop it with pitchers helmet…just stop it

    • clydeserra - Sep 10, 2012 at 3:07 PM


    • tigertigerwoodsyall - Sep 10, 2012 at 9:21 PM

      This coming from a person who proudly supports a team with orange and black stripes on their helmets and uniforms.

  4. The Dangerous Mabry - Sep 10, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Let’s get it over with….

    He looks ridiculous! What is this, Tron?!

    I can’t believe our society is such a bunch of sissies as to do something like this! In my day even hitters didn’t wear helmets!

    There’s no way this is ever going to catch on. Never. Ever.

    I guess in this case, this guy, with his history. Ok, fine.

    What’s wrong with pitcher’s helmets? It’s just the way it is, nothing to see here.

    Process complete.

    • djpostl - Sep 10, 2012 at 3:48 PM

      Are soldiers “sissies” because they now wear Kevlar helmets and body armor? Are cops “sissies” because they wear bullet proof vests?

      The line drives can KILL PEOPLE you idiot.

      • Tim's Neighbor - Sep 10, 2012 at 4:41 PM

        I think you missed the point of the comment above. He’s going through the cycle Craig described above.

        Unless your statement was also satire…

        /mind blown

      • Alex K - Sep 10, 2012 at 4:43 PM

        I think you missed the point.

      • ramrene - Sep 10, 2012 at 4:55 PM

        How about spending time teaching pitchers proper balancing. If you throw the ball over the middle of the plate there’s only one direction that ball is going to go coming hot and that’s up the middle. Once you release the pitch and you realize you left it over the middle try setting up quickly for the comebacker.

        Floppers beware!

    • cur68 - Sep 10, 2012 at 4:50 PM

      Danger, next time us Sarcasm Font™, available from me for the low, low cost of $69.69. Avoids all these downthumbs you’ve harvested for you hard work putting to e-ink Craig’s Stages Of Baseball Getting Used To Stuff™…he might want $69.69 too for the use of his Stages. Better check with him.

      • natstowngreg - Sep 10, 2012 at 5:55 PM

        Is that $69.69 in American or Canadian Dollars?

      • cur68 - Sep 10, 2012 at 6:02 PM

        I love to be able to say that I accept all currency impartially & without favouritism. Of course that would be madness. That’ll be in Beaver Bucks, please.

    • wizzrdofaz - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      That’s what they said about helmets in hockey. chance. Now look. It’s a matter of saving oneself from serious hurt by wearing a simple protective device. My only concern, how to protect the face without impairing vision and peripheral vision.

  5. thefalcon123 - Sep 10, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Is it just me, or does it seem like a lot more pitchers get hit in the *face* with comebackers…in a place where the helmet won’t protect you. I have stats on this, just my perception.

    Are incidents like this occuring more often? In the past few years we’ve had this incident, Luis Salazar losing an eye, Juan Encarnacion getting his face shattered and ending his career, Juan Nicasio’s broken neck, Coolbaugh’s death…

    • clydeserra - Sep 10, 2012 at 3:08 PM

      I don’t know about where they get hit. I would imagine people tend to turn away from rapidly approaching objects

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 10, 2012 at 3:27 PM

      It should read ” I have *don’t* stats on this, just my perception.”

    • indaburg - Sep 10, 2012 at 4:51 PM

      I don’t know the stats either but I do know that McCarthy was hit on the side/back of the head. A helmet could have minimized damage. Maybe he would have “just” suffered a concussion.

      The more I think about it, the more it makes some sense. Sure, it’s a little funny looking, but it’s because we’re not accustomed to it. Why does a batter wear a helmet? To protect his head from a ball being thrown from a hand 60 feet 6 inches away. That ball is traveling at top speed from a great fastballer at about 100 mph, correct? A ball hit off a wooden bat travels at about the same velocity (100 mph) towards an unprotected pitcher also 60 feet 6 inches away. The difference is that the pitcher is aiming in the direction of the batter, whereas the batter is not aiming at the pitcher. That greatly lowers the likelihood of the pitcher’s head injury, but makes it no less potentially catastrophic.

  6. number42is1 - Sep 10, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    “Seriously: great news that all of the parts seem to be working properly.”

    that’s her next tweet

  7. jsto9 - Sep 10, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    People who use the “back in my day” line of crap need to be punched in the face. Seriously. Just STFU.

    • saints97 - Sep 10, 2012 at 3:43 PM

      Sarcasm detector malfunction.

  8. card0109 - Sep 10, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    Even though these helmets look goofy, if it’s going to mean the difference between playing for another ten years or someone’s career ending with a badly placed hit, I’m all for it. As for mechanics of pitching, sure, it may change how the pitcher pitches. But if a safety measure like this needs to be implemented, let’s start at the lowest levels. Demand that Little Leagues use them, force high schools to start protecting their pitchers. If you start developing a population of up and coming pitchers who are used to wearing them, the push back from enforcing these helmets at a professional level will be much less.

    • teaspoon1731 - Sep 10, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      Agreed. Hockey players didn’t use to wear helmets at all, let alone any kind of face protection and now more and more players are wearing visors. Football players used to wear nothing, and now you see more and more with the bobble helmet to protect from concussions. I realize those are contact sports and thus it’s different, but the games change and the protection required to be safe while playing them changes too.

  9. bostonhasrealhockey - Sep 10, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Make them optional

  10. e5again - Sep 10, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    A helmet like John Olerud wore wouldn’t be so ugly. I’m guessing there would be issues with it staying in place when they release the ball. I would think manufacturers wouldn’t be so far off from being able to make something lightweight that looks like a normal hat. That thing in the picture is ridiculous.

  11. mook1987 - Sep 10, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    ur all lame losers. retard helmets for everyone!!! always!!!tm sarcasm….stfu

    everyone pitch



  12. Glenn - Sep 10, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    How about making pitchers where preventative tampons, just in case they turn into a girl and get their period or something.

    • The Common Man - Sep 10, 2012 at 6:56 PM

      Assuming Glenn is trying to be sarcastic here, I would like to nominate this comment for some kind of award.

  13. jackdaniels1 - Sep 10, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    Forget the helmet, put up a batting practice net in front of the pitcher

  14. ndnut - Sep 10, 2012 at 11:34 PM

    I watched the Twins Legends Game from a year or two ago, and noticed Corey Koskie wore a helmet at bat and in the field while everyone else wore hats at bay and in the field. This is why helmets are needed! Nobody should need it for essentially a pickup game, but injuries at the pro level can force that.

  15. kellyb9 - Sep 11, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    Simple question of etiquette. Do you remove your helmet for a fight?… I miss hockey.

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