How safe are you on the mound?

by ANTHONY TAGLIAFERRO Staff Writer

Toronto Blue Jays ace pitcher J.A. Happ was struck by a batted ball between his left temple and ear at the Jays home field on Tuesday, May 7. He received a skull fracture behind his left ear.

How many times does an awful occurrence like this have to occur before someone does something to prevent it all?

To start, it is obvious that pitchers are vulnerable on the mound. They are only 60 inches at most away from the plate at big school to major league levels, and even closer through the youth age ball.

A perfect example of how dangerous being a pitcher at any level was shown during the grand stage of all Little League ball, the Little League World Series.

A 13-year-old boy may have escaped fatality when the straight bill of his cap cushioned a blow strong enough to knock him off his feet. The impact left an indentation the size of a human bite mark.

Any inch, up or down, could have been the difference between that boy throwing another pitch and taking another breath. So what has to happen until these players are protected?

The conversation whether pitchers should wear a type of helmet or mask is often brought up during the heat of baseball season because these types of situations still occur and players are continuously injured.

As part of a push to reduce brain injuries in youth sports, sporting goods giant Easton-Bell has developed a prototype helmet for baseball pitchers. Easton’s CEO introduced the product in March 2013.

The helmet is made of expanded polystyrene polycarbonate with a comfortable liner, and can shield pitchers “without sacrificing contact and performance,” the company says.

It is almost inevitable that people will say helmets or masks are necessary after an incident like what happened to Happ, but nothing is ever executed. A rule needs to be implemented, forcing players, especially children, to wear some sort of head gear.

Dan Marsh, senior pitcher at MTHS, said, “As a pitcher, it is hard to believe something like this can happen to me. Sure, I’ve had balls whiz pass my head, but I can never imagine being hit in the face like Happ did recently.”

People question the helmets or masks because they feel that they take away from America’s pastime. They would be surprised to see how stable and elaborate these model are.

Andrew Cohen, senior pitcher at MTHS, said, “I wouldn’t want to wear something that could possibly obstruct my vision or, in any sense, get in my way of throwing strikes. I wouldn’t want to be severely hurt, but it’s the way of the game.”

Sports enthusiasts all over have different opinions for a bunch of different reasons. Some believe the safe way is the best way, but others old style ball players and fans say that the way of Americas pastime should not be altered.

“I, for one, think it’s an awesome idea,” says Casey Chan at Gizmodo. The material is “super lightweight and good at absorbing energy.” Plus, the helmet actually looks cool — “like something you’d imagine future baseball players to wear.” Yes, “old-fogey baseball purists will probably disagree,” but pitcher helmets are a great idea.

Well now that both sides have told there stories, what’s your opinion? What ballplayer would have to die on the mound before something was done to protect pitchers? Is the great game of baseball safe?

#AnthonyTagliaferro #baseball #injury

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