Since pitchers will never wear helmets on their own, its time to make the decision for them. Plus, Big Papi pastes the Donald, silly September call-ups are back and Seth Lugo spins his style into the Mets rotation
Its the nightmare scenario for pitchers: a blister line drive off the bat of a big leaguer, leaving no time for hurlers to move their head or swing the glove up for defense.
It doesnt happen often, but when it does, it builds for chilling video and it stimulates you wonder why, with just 60 feet and six inches of space between batter and pitcher, why only one of those players is wearing a helmet. When you consider that Statcast now informs of the triple-digit speeds a ball explosion off of a at-bat, it induces you wonder even more.
We dont have the cinema of Clevelands Herb Score being battered by Yankee batter Gil McDougald in 1957, but weve seen enough of Alex Cobb, Brandon McCarthy, and the five who were hit in the 2015 season to get the idea just how gruesome a scenario it is. Now weve witnessed the most recent pitcher to be victimized by a line drive, Matt Shoemaker, who was hit on Sunday by a Kyle Seager laser beam at a staggering 105 mph, fracturing his skull and forcing emergency surgery for subdural hematoma.
Yet, when you consider the slow moving history of headgear in baseball, its not surprising that despite the threats that pitchers face daily, exactly zero pitchers are wearing the most recent offering from Boombang, a California-based company working on a joint helmet development scheme along with MLB and the Players Association. Some 20 pitchers were offered the chance to try the carbon fiber caps in the spring , none of whom elected to wear them during the regular season. The Astros pitcher Collin McHugh wears a product that hasnt been tested or approved by MLB or the union, and it does not protect the ears.
In 1920, Indian shortstop Ray Chapman died after hard hit in the head by a ball from Yankees pitcher Carl Mays. Major League Baseball banned the spitball and ordered dirty balls to be replaced to keep them from darting unpredictably, yet the first plastic inserts didnt arrive until the 1950 s, and helmets werent even mandatory until 1971.
A single ear-covering flap wasnt criterion until 12 years later, and it wasnt until 2013 that we even had a batting helmet capable of withstanding speeds of 100mph. Giancarlo Stanton was among the first to don a helmet capable of blocking pitchings bound for the face after he was hit by Mike Fiers in 2014, but the custom construct hasnt caught on.
Sixty-odd years after helmets were introduced to hitters, adding on to what already exists represents an easier change. Pitchers are basically starting from ground zero theyve rarely worn anything but soft caps on their heads.
Even while first and third base coach-and-fours stand on the sidelines wearing head protection, even when dugouts have been reinforced with mesh fencing protecting children from line drives, even as teams begin to install more comprehensive netting to protect the fans from bats and balls flying into the stands, there is the pitcher standing solo on the mound, a sitting duck, unleashing a force that can come back at him even quicker than he can deliver it.
Pitchers will not stimulate the change on their own because pitchers have a one-track mind its not about their head, its not their face, its all about their arm. Tom Seaver stimulated his wife sleep on the left side of the bed so if she rolled over shed hit the left limb , not the right one which won three Cy Young Awards. Theyre worried about Tommy John surgery and shoulder issues. A line drive to the face? By their decisive inaction theyve shown that theyre willing to take their chances rather than add on equipment that changes routine and forces-out any adjustment.
Reliever Mark Melancon, then with the Pittsburgh Pirates and now with the Washington Nationals, experimented with the caps back at spring training.
It appears funny, Melancon told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in February. Just because of the lookings, it might not be something that I wear during the season. As shallow as that seems, and Im definitely not that guy I dont know. Im merely not there yet. Dedicate me a little time, and perhaps Ill get there.
Melancon never got there, and either did any other pitcher besides McHugh in 2016.
In the NFL there is no concussion-proof helmet. In cricket there is no 100% effective kind of protection, as we sadly insured when Australian batsman Phillip Hughes was tragically killed after being struck by a ball simply below the ear. Sports will never be 100% safe and all danger will never be eliminated.
However, when youre playing blackjack, if the dealer has a face card and you have 16, the book says to make, and thats because even though the odds are well against you, you must give yourself the best chance to win. A pitcher wearing a helmet gives them the best chance to save them from a fluke tragedy, one that could happen at any moment. And since it seems that pitchers will never voluntarily wear them en masse, Major League Baseball and the Players Union must now make the decision to save them from themselves.
Video of the week
Knocking the encompas off the ball is both a baseball expression and something we watched in The Natural. This week, it really did happen, thanks to the Mets Jose Reyes, albeit in less dramatic way 😛 TAGEND
Quote of the week
The fourth inning, I was still pitching good in the fourth inning…
Thats Arizona ace Zack Greinke, who told the truth on Monday after facing his old team, in his old stomping grounds for the first time since leaving LA.
Then Adrian Gonzalez went deep, and then Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal went yard in the fifth inning. Greinke, suffering through the worst season of his big-league life, proved he maintains warm impressions for his old ballclub, allowing a career worst five home run while the Dodgers compete for a playoff spot.
Whos closer to victory: Donald Trump or the Cubs?
By now we all know that the Cubs are who we thought they were, which is a dominant baseball franchise on their style to over 100 victories for the first time since they lost the World Series in 1935. Theoretically, Chicago could have the NL Central wrapped up early next week, leaving us a good chunk of September to come up with multiple hypothetical scenarios of how their title hopes will blow out of the Windy City for a 108 th consecutive season.
Theres no key September stretch run for the Cubbies, but Labor Day does mark the start of the sprint to the White House. Trump, busy touring while tweaking a lineup of offensive gestures and controversial remarks ahead of debate season, has been relatively quiet the coming week. However, David Ortiz did take time out of his retirement tour to address Trumps dealings with the Latino Community.
Latin people here in the United States are the sparking plug of the countrys economy, told Ortiz. Whoever resists that is going to lose. And not just Latin people, but immigrants. Im talking about people who come from Africa, from Asia, other places. All those people come here with one goal, to realize the American dream, and you have to include them in our group.
Getting smoked by Big Papi wont help you win anything, so the Cubbies get the edge this week.
How did the kids piss off Goose Gossage this week?
Goose Gossage got more than an earful the coming week from the Canadian agricultural community: the Hunter Brothers Farm in New Brunswick unveiled a corn labyrinth immortalizing the very same Jose Bautista ALDS bat flip that at least partially inspired Gooses spring time rant. The next Hunter Friend creation? A corn maze depicting geeky pencil necked baseball executives assessing data.
Nine supposes in order
1) Baseballs ridiculously bizarre system of 1 September roster expansion is back, once again allowing teams to test drive prospects and bring along reinforcements during the most important time of the season. Why baseball teams are abruptly playing by a different situate of personnel rules – the roster can swell from anywhere between 26 and 40 players – than those which governed the first five months remains a mystery, one that ranks up there with the NBA rule that allows a team to advance the ball to half court after a timeout with two minutes or less in video games.
If such a system is a must have, why not permit expanded rosters in April while squads continue to evaluate their rosters, as former director Bobby Valentine has suggested in the past. In an age of pitching restrictions, that would also permit a chance to go with six-man rotations for a month. Yes, wins in April count the same as they do in September, but its farcical to change the style of doing business during pennant races.
2) Baseball fans outside of Los Angeles and throughout the world have been feasting on Dodgers coverage, if merely to enjoys the iconic voice of Vin Scully during his final season of broadcasting. Some fans inside LA have been iced out of Scullys last season thanks to a long running struggle between SportsNet LA, the Dodger television network and Time Warner Cable, which has not carried the channel since 2014 due to contractual issues. Now, there is peace in our time, kind of: Charter Communications, the group operating Time Warner Cable after a merger, announced on Friday that it will broadcast the final six games of the season on KTLA, a free to air terrestrial channel, in order to make sure all in the area can hear Scully before he calls it quits.
3) Meanwhile, those regular season games may not be Vins final calls, if LA builds the playoffs and Scully elects to do radio during the post-season. The Dodger, already in a strong stance in the NL West, will get a boost after learning that Clayton Kershaw will return to the hill on Friday against the Marlins following a rehab stint. LAs ace posted a 1.79 ERA and 145 strikeouts in 121 innings in the first half of the 2016 season, and somewhat amazingly, the injury battered Dodgers survived well without him. Kershaw, who has been among the most durable arms in baseball, comes back with a guarantee:
Ill never get hurt again, said the three-time National League Cy Young Award winner on Sunday. Its awful.
4) The Pittsburgh Pirates are rapidly spiraling out of the playoff hunting. Their defeat on Tuesday after St Louis overcame a one-run ninth inning deficit courtesy of three rapid fire home runs. Despite such a frustrating stretch, the Buccos were seen dancing in the dugout this week.
Clint Hurdle either needs to dump the post-game spread or get Goose Gossage in to let the Buccos in on another unwritten rule: dancing in the dugout is dandy, as long as youre winning.
5) The Miami Marlins are another squad sliding out of the wild card race. Giancarlo Stanton, lost to injury since the beginning of August, returned ahead of schedule on Tuesday, but its likely too late. Thats because August pain also came in the form of a staggering 11 one-run losses. So far in September theyve lost just two, one-run games. Some of those losses came to the Padres, White Sox, Reds and Phillies, the kind of teams competitors feast on during the dog days of summer. With the Gathers fighting, Miami couldve divided themselves from their NL East contenders and focused on the Cardinal. Instead, these fish are fried and their fans are reflecting on injuries and deadline bargains for players such as Fernando Rodney and Andrew Cashner that went wrong rather than a chance at the playoffs.
6) Its another story in Detroit where the Tiger are in the thick of a tough AL playoff race. Theyve won 11 of their previous 16 games as Justin Upton sizzles: the outfielder who has posted an OPS of over 1.110 over the past two weeks is stimulating up for a lackluster start to the season while becoming a key piece to a deep lineup featuring Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, JD and Victor Martinez. Detroit ripped up the Royals, White Sox and Twins in fighting the Orioles, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Astros and Yankees in a crowded playoff race. Meanwhile, the pitching faculty has jumped from 13 th to second in AL team ERA since the All-Star break as Detroit head into the stretch running knowing they still have seven games remaining with the AL Central leading Indians, whom they trail by 5.5 games.
7) The Mets may not have pitchers Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and, for the time being, Jacob deGrom but they do have Seth Lugo. Mets fans who wondered who the pitcher wearing a spring develop number was just a few months back now count the hurler as one of the reasons for their sudden reversal of fortune. More specifically, its Lugos curveball that has Mets fans oggling, but theyre not alone: his hook is the darling of those curious enough to wonder what spin rate is, and Lugo has the highest rpm all of baseball since MLB.com introduced statcast.
Lugo was a 34 th round pick in 2011, but despite being rocked at Triple-A Las Vegas for over 70 innings this season, hes excelled on a big league level, posting a sub 1.00 WHIP and a 2.38 ERA in over 40 innings in Queens.
8) Are the Giant trying to lull us all into a false sense of security? San Francisco, who have won three titles in six seasons, all even years, are in danger of falling out of the playoff race in spite of the fact that 16 is divisible by two. The Giants looked like they were going to run away and hide before the All-Star break, enjoying a 6.5 game leading over the Dodgers on 10 July. Since then theyve gone 17 -3 1 during a season where their bullpen has blown some 23 games. Can they turn it around? Well, consider this: the 2014 Giants that beat Kansas City in seven games also backed into the playoffs, using a few hot months to reach the playoffs. That squad ran merely 45 -5 1 from 8 June on, stimulated the wild card with 88 wins, handed the ball to Madison Baumgarner and, well, the rest is history. So yes, marriage all be crazy to count out the Giant now, but they do need to start turning it around now, with the Dodger, Mets and Cardinals winning nearly every day.
9) And ultimately, Minnesotas Brian Dozier is on a career roll, making three home runs on Monday against the Royals:
Then on Tuesday he reached another against KC – his seventh in five games – which, well, is a lot. Dozier is up to 39 now, trailing Baltimores Mark Trumbo by two during a season in which hes eclipsed his career high by 11 explosions. From an organizational point of view, its astonishing to consider that, if and when Dozier reaches his 40 th home run, he will be the only player in the 116 year history of the franchise not named Harmon Killebrew to reach that total.
Read more: www.theguardian.com