Playing the Field: Baseball must do better job of protecting pitchers

Toronto pitcher J.A. Happ was taken off the field in a stretcher Tuesday night in Tampa after a line drive went off his head. (Getty Images)
Toronto pitcher J.A. Happ was taken off the field in a stretcher Tuesday night in Tampa after a line drive went off his head. (Getty Images)

Concussions in football have been a hot topic for several years now and, after endless stories of tragedy coming from former players and even Congressional hearings, something is being done about it. The rule changes in the NFL are an annoyance for the old school, take-no-prisoners sports fan. But if they help save one life going forward, to hell with those “back-in-my-day” perceived bad-asses.

It’s Major League Baseball’s turn to now get with the times. Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ was struck in the head with a line drive comebacker Tuesday night and he had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. For minutes he laid on the ground and it was hard to avoid that awful question that pops into a sports fan’s head from time-to-time, “is this the moment someone actually dies on a professional sports field?”

Pro sports leagues owe it to their fans to not have to deal with that thought.

In the case of baseball, there’s no concrete answer on how to go about protecting the pitcher better. He can’t wear a batter’s helmet. Way too clunky. But just a little added padding in the temples area could go a long way. They’d look goofy as all hell in baseball, but what about the return of the leather helmet from football’s infant days?

Of course, this issue will be discussed for a couple of hours today on SportsCenter and there will be plenty of buzz the next time Happ hopefully takes the mound for Toronto. But then it will be forgotten … until the next time someone gets plunked in the head.

The Happ incident will be forgotten just like the Matt Clement incident (Red Sox pitcher hit in the head in 2005. By 2007 his MLB career was finished), just like the Bryce Florie incident (Red Sox pitcher hit in the head in 2000. By 2002 his MLB career was finished), just like the Steven Domalewski incident (12-year-old New Jersey Little League pitcher hit in the chest by a line-drive off a metal bat in 2006. His heart stopped upon impact and he is now brain damaged from loss of oxygen to the brain) and just like the Brandon Patch incident (the 18-year-old Montana American Legion pitcher who died in 2003 due to a ball striking his head off a metal bat).

It’s hard to watch, yes, but if you think pitchers should just “nut up” and not think about the fact that their head and body is exposed to a 100 mph flying piece of rubber and leather, give the Happ video a viewing.

Follow Metro Boston sports editor and columnist Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS

 

 


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.

Local

The Boston Marathon: Step by step, the race…

For over a century, the Boston Marathon has been an event centered around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there’s no denying the face of the renowned race has been changed…

Local

Boston Marathon: Marathoners ready to run, honor victims

Scores of runners will cross the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton Monday and embark on a 26.2-mile journey to Boston in honor of the victims.

Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.