Should Major League Baseball Force Pitchers To Start Wearing A Protective Helmet On The Mound?
On Tuesday night, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ wound up for a pitch—just like he’s done thousands of times before—and fired it towards Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings. What happened next, though, was anything ordinary. Jennings hit a line drive in Happ’s direction and, before Happ had the chance to move out of the way, he was struck in the side of the head by the ball. His body crashed down to the ground and he held his hands over his face as he writhed around in obvious pain. Within minutes, paramedics were on the scene checking Happ out and, eventually, he had to be carted off the field on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital for overnight observation. He sustained a head bruise and a cut to his left ear as a result of the line drive.
The situation involving Happ has kicked off a debate amongst MLB fans. Some of them—actually, make that a lot of them—are wondering whether or not MLB should step in and force pitchers to wear a helmet of some kind during games. Although it doesn’t happen often, MLB pitchers are susceptible to taking line drives in the head and face every single time they step on the mound. So it’s only a matter of time before someone gets really hurt as a result of a line drive that comes flying in their direction. But a lot of them are hesitant to wear any kind of helmet or even something as simple as a fitted hat lined with Kevlar, because they claim that it could impact their pitching. They’re used to playing with the regular old fitted caps on their heads. So a helmet is obviously not ideal.
That said, MLB needs to do something in order to help pitchers stay safe on the mound. At the very least, they should start offering them the chance to wear something like a hat lined with Kevlar. If a pitcher doesn’t want to wear it, then that should be his choice and he should be obligated to put his decision in writing so that MLB isn’t liable if he gets hurt. If pitchers were forced to do that, they might give the idea of wearing a helmet a second chance.
What happened to J.A. Happ on Tuesday night is avoidable. MLB just needs to figure out the best way to implement a system to make everyone involved in the game happy. And they need to figure it out quickly, before someone else gets hurt.