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

Drive charged in fatal hit and run, police…

The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for a fatal hit and run in Manhattan last weekend. Doohee Cho, 33, was hit…

Local

Mayor de Blasio raises minimum wage for some…

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more…

National

3 myths about the working poor

Linda Tirado works to debunk some common stereotypes about the working poor in her new book, "Hand to Mouth."

Money

Lawsuit funding advances: friend or foe?

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Many plaintiffs awaiting resolution of their lawsuit or legal claim often find themselves in a tricky financial…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

Entertainment

Interview: Metro chats with filmmaker Meir Kalmanson, man…

A New York filmmaker hands out smiles to its residents.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 30: 'Selfie,' 'Utopia'…

'Selfie' This modern day take on the "My Fair Lady" story stars John Cho in the Henry Higgins role. Perhaps instead of "the rain in…

Music

Can't-miss weekend events continue to attract the masses

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Earlier this summer, the Firefly Music Festival drew crowds of tens of thousands of people to Dover, Delaware.…

MLB

Mets 2014 report card

The Mets wrapped up their eight straight season without a playoff appearance last weekend. Needless to say, they fell a bit short of general manager…

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

Style

Products that support breast cancer awareness and research

Asics GT-1000, $100 Asics’ third pink collection in collaboration with Christina Applegate’s Right Action for Women includes this pink-accented version of its best-selling GT-1000 3…

Wellbeing

Bees' stingers hold new hope for cancer cure

A promising new lead in the search for a cancer cure has turned up in a place that most people naturally avoid. A team from…

Home

Emily Henderson on small space design

Design expert Emily Henderson shows us how to upgrade our cramped quarters.

Home

Emily Henderson's pet-friendly style tips

Design expert Emily Henderson shows us to live with pets in style.