As odd as it sounds, how about using a pitching screen? They are used in BP for a reason. Just change the bunting rule so the ball has to go farther then the screen to be fair…..or we could get rid of bunting. It is not fun or productive.
Comment by GilaMonster — September 7, 2012 @ 4:42 pm
I think the problem with any barrier is that it’s going to obstruct plays like throwing runners out at second or home. And I think it would be seen as too drastic a change to the game. Not agreeing or disagreeing with the second point, just an issue that people would raise.
Comment by You are correct — September 7, 2012 @ 4:51 pm
Great post. I feel terrible for McCarthy. I am happy he is ok, but feel bad that he has to go through this, miss out on what was an exciting season with a lot of potential, and likely lose out on a few million dollars in his next contract. Lucky or not, this is probably pretty devastating for him. I know it is for us A’s fans as he has become the face of the team and certainly the most entertaining player off the field (apologies to Josh Reddick and his pies). With how well we have gotten to know him and his wife through twitter and local broadcasts, it was like watching a friend go down.
I have to correct one thing… Aybar did not reach base. He was thrown out by Donaldson off the ricochet.
I feel for McCarthy. While this never happened to me, a couple near misses caused me to quit playing men’s slow-pitch softball at the state tournament level. The race to make the best bats left the pitchers in the lurch.
My understanding is the bat verification standards have now forced the “hotness” of the bats way down, making things safer. But, nine or ten years ago, it was a dangerous time to be on a slow-pitch mound.
and that’s why you gotta use the screens in u-trip leagues
Comment by Delirium Nocturnum — September 7, 2012 @ 5:36 pm
To help out Jeff here, for a great article and people often catching mistakes on this site, he did say Aybar DIDN’T reach base under number (2) last sentence in paragraph 2. I know contractions are tricky but they go way back to grade school.
Comment by StatsNut83 — September 7, 2012 @ 5:39 pm
I was originally wrong, and I edited the post later.
Given where the ball hit McCarthy, I’m not even sure that thing would’ve helped. Needs padding in the back too, not just a strap.
Comment by CaliforniaJag — September 7, 2012 @ 5:45 pm
Protecting pitchers would require an equipment change. Protecting catchers from horrific collisions requires a rule change (and a change in mentality of some staunch old-timers). Both changes are necessary to protect not only the sizable investments teams have in players, but also the safety and livelihoods of players.
I actually like this idea, but I do think it would probably be very difficult to create something that doesn’t a) interfere with the pitching motion, and b) cause additional heat and discomfort to the pitcher.
Comment by More on that — September 7, 2012 @ 7:00 pm
While I think it would fundamentally change the game (probably for worse), and I disagree with its implementation, I am glad you brought it up. Considering what the NFL is going to have to do in the future to protect their players, it is not outlandish to think that something like this would be done.
Comment by MetsFan212 — September 7, 2012 @ 7:08 pm
That wouldn’t work very well for the same reason that hard-shell phone cases aren’t very effective. Reducing impact force is all about increasing the distance over which the force is applied, since obviously you can’t reduce the incoming kinetic energy (i.e. make the ball go slower) and delta energy equals force times distance. This is why helmets are padded. If a ball were to hit a metal cap, the cap would still fail to increase the distance over which the force is applied, and the hit would feel just as hard (albeit spread out over more of the head than a straight shot).
Comment by ThirteenOfTwo — September 7, 2012 @ 7:40 pm
That really is a fascinating piece of technology.
But what’s with homeboy making a goddamn Fellini art film about it? good god just show me the helmet already, dude.
Comment by DavidCEisen — September 7, 2012 @ 10:28 pm
I think it’s a bit premature to say he’s going to be in “great shape”. Head trauma may cause diffuse axonal injury which cannot be detected on CT or most MRIs. Diffuse axonal injury can cause cognitive problems. While you say he did not have an intraparenchymal hemorrhage, he does have a “contusion”. This is not a medical term, however probably means that there has been some damage to his brain (ie a small intraparenchymal hemorrhage). He may be as fine as all the vets coming home with traumatic brain injuries from IEDs, which is not very fine.
Comment by Billy Beane — September 7, 2012 @ 11:32 pm
I liked your post. It was very feeling and well thought out.
But your last point is a pet peeve of mine. Just because there was a freak injury (granted that will likely happen again at some point), doesn’t mean we have to do things to change things in some radical way. There is a >0% chance you will walk outside and get hit by lightning. Should we start wearing devices to protect us from lightning strikes? There is a >0% chance you will go to the store and be shot. Should we wear bullet proof vests wherever we go? Life is, necessarily, going to incur some small risks and liners to a pitchers face/head are just one that we have to accept.
>liners to a pitchers face/head are just one that we have to accept.
Comment by ataraxia_ — September 8, 2012 @ 12:38 am
I absolutely hate to pitch in a slow pitch game and try to avoid it whenever possible for this reason.
Comment by cobradc23 — September 8, 2012 @ 1:01 am
Jeff, have you written before more in depth about your incident being hit on the head? I would like to read that.
Comment by TheSinators — September 8, 2012 @ 1:30 am
I’m not sure smug is the correct terminology you’re going for here. If being okay with miniscual mistakes is being smug than call me guilty as charged. However, I don’t think being okay with this is being complacent. I think some people may just be bored. While it’s inconsequential to point out the mistake, so would be not pointing it out. Please show some restraint. I’ve now waisted to much time on an inconsequential point that someone with to much time on their hands made, which I realize was my prerogative. So, in summary, why? What greater purpose did you have in this? Besides belittling others and bringing yourself some sort of satisfaction? So, sir, who is being smug?
You’re not all geniuses because you’ve realized the value in this site.
Comment by StatsNut83 — September 8, 2012 @ 1:34 am
Agreed. I’ve been reading lookout landing for about 3 years now and haven’t heard of it in the slightest.
Also thank you for mentioning the aybar point of view. I was in a very serious unpreventable car wreck in which my passenger sustained a scar which would take serious surgery to lessen. Through the whole process i felt nothing but guilt and being villified in the process made it much worse. Its a really tough feeling to have causing harm to someone unintentionally. I really hope his friends are there for him during this time as its something you have to manage. (sorry if this reposts)
Comment by illtakebothdakotas — September 8, 2012 @ 1:46 am
I think Jon is saying in life there are risks to stepping outside your front door, we accept these risks as being satisfactory to the reward. As do pitchers. There may be solutions that haven’t been reached that are superior to our current acceptance of the norm, but there is no need to rush to solve a problem with a mediocre solution that may not be better than what we currently have. In the modern era (as defined by Paul Swydan in another post) no one has ever been killed by a line drive. Correct me if I’m wrong. Things are imperfect, only in modern times have come to find this unacceptable.
Comment by StatsNut83 — September 8, 2012 @ 1:50 am
You guys don’t realize what McCarthey is going through. I for one have an idea, because last July, I suffered a very similar injury. I’m a college student and last July while I was attending a party, I was pushed/shoved while I was intoxicated, I lost my balance and tripped backwards onto a piece of concrete. Part of my skull was removed to subside the swelling and I was put into a coma for 8 days. I don’t know if any of McCarthey’s skull was removed, but I would assume that it is currently out bcuz of any possible swelling. He is a very lucky person that he was not hurt any worse, just like I am lucky to not have any permanent brain damage, but sadly Brandon doesn’t know yet the obstacles that this will cause him, that being brain damage or any loss of fine motor skills. I tend to agree with the thoughts of Aybar and what he is going through. When I was pushed, it was by someone who I consider a close friend and I knew before he said a word to me after I came out of the coma that he had been suffering the entire time I was in the hospital. I don’t know what McCarthey and Aybars relationship was, but I know as MLB players that they share a connection and are in a type of fraternity that builds unique relationships.
I realize that my accident was just purely a bad case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time and that it could have happened to anyone at that party and for that matter anyone at any party. Some would say its my friends’ fault I had four separate brain surgeries and had the injuries, but some would also say it was my fault that I was intoxicated and that I was at that party. Is it McCarthey’s fault that Aybar hit him or Aybar’s fault that the ball came off his bat and hit McCarthey? No, they were both just doing their job and trying to do their jobs.
Really, we should look at the lower levels of baseball and consider if there should be a change. Most all MLB players hit the ball hard, two players who are in the top of this category are Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton. Harper is 19, Stanton is 22. Both players are mearly a few years out of high school and could be playing college ball, using metal bats. I don’t even want to think about the pain they could cause to a pitcher if either of them were using a metal bat. I don’t know if the Easton helmet is viable, but I do believe something needs to be done. I know wood bats are expensive and break easily and that’s why colleges and high schools stick with metal bats, but this is also why metal bats are constantly changing so the ball comes off the bat at slower speeds.
Either way, this was a good article and I pray for Brandon and his family. I also pray for Aybar and all MLB players that they never have to go through anything like this.
In slow pitch leagues, I would release the ball then take about 5 steps off the back of the mound. Scary..
Comment by fergie348 — September 8, 2012 @ 2:27 am
@StatsNut83 “miniscual,” “waisted,” “to much time?” I know spelling is tricky but it goes way back to grade school
Comment by dmacinsac — September 8, 2012 @ 2:29 am
the thing with brain injuries is that they can mess with coordination long term. I suffered a subdural hematoma a few years ago, luckily it didn’t require surgery, just a lot of rehab. Vision and coordination has mostly returned to normal but it took a while.
Comment by Antonio Bananas — September 8, 2012 @ 3:29 am
Those are some awful spelling errors that I can agree are worth correcting. Thanks. Hope the late Friday night rant was at least slightly entertaining.
Comment by StatsNut83 — September 8, 2012 @ 8:30 am
I couldn’t watch the video of Brandon McCarthy getting hit, because the image of Juan Nicasio breaking his neck in Colorado is still vivid. Ian Desmond hit that comebacker. I think of it often, and of Hamilton’s throw to the stands. Sometimes people ask me why they don’t shoot t-shirts into the stands anymore, and I say they stopped doing that the day after the guy got killed in Texas–and sometimes they remember, and sometimes they say, “What guy?”
What is the effect on Aybar, on Desi, on Hamilton?
All of us who haven’t gone through that kind of traumatic brain injury do have SOME idea–we just watched Gabby Giffords say the pledge of allegiance. She’s a hero, but it’s not an easy road, no, nothing easy.
That’s a fantastic piece of technology, and obviously every advancement serves to help future advancements in many arenas. However, the key to this invisible bike helmet is that it detects sudden motions (much like a car detects impact) to determine a crash is occurring.
This sort of device would have no way to determine that a ball is about to strike a pitcher. A pitcher too regularly makes extreme movement and has the ball batted near him in a non-dangerous manner to make senors a reliable option, and obviously it’s too late at the point of contact. I think it will have to be a fully passive piece of equipment that can provide the necessary protection without interfering with the pitcher’s play.
In almost a century of the live ball era no pitcher has been killed at any professional level-which will no doubt some day not be so–but of course we must hear from the nanny state types who would REQUIRE the wearing of headgear. Not going to help Bryce Florrie, or Herb Score, but somebody will feel better about himself, girls.
I know two people, Div 1 and AA, who quit the game after getting nailed with comebackers. And a dozen who didn’t. It’s a man’s game, and it’s called hardball. The soft can’t stick. No pitcher has to overcome with such regularity what hitters must overcome every day. This is an intimidating game. Pastoral is for the fans.
Comment by james wilson — September 8, 2012 @ 12:11 pm
Why don’t some pitchers where helmets? I was never a pitcher when I played basebal but it seems like a pitcher could wear a helmet and it wouldn’t change his performance.
Ridiculous comment, James Wilson. The severity of the injury is what’s important, and a player’s ability to return after a comebacker or HBP probably has more to do with the nature of the injury and not whether he’s “soft” or not.
Kirby Puckett’s career was effectively ended by a Denny Martinez fastball. Did he suddenly turn “soft” or lose his manhood because of the pitch that hit him? Not likely, because he showed up for spring training the following year. But he did break a jaw and later lose his eyesight because of it.
You can’t compare the two people who you know who left the game to those who continued to play unless their injuries were on the same plane. It’s not always about toughness and manhood — it can be about the physical effects, too.
In fairness I think your missing the difference between a critique of the conclusion and one of the argument in defense of the conclusion.
I never sensed that jon was against protecting pitchers. He was simply pointing out that the >0% argument isn’t particularly compelling. And if you’re a fan of protecting pitcher’s (which it seems you are) you should think about welcoming any ideas that might help make convincing others of its necessity that much easier.
I would be curious to hear peoples’ explanations for why they are down-voting GilaMonster’s pitching screen suggestion. I don’t think it’s the most practical suggestion, but it seems to have been a sincere one motivated out of the desire to protect pitchers, and so for me, it’s worth at least giving a fair hearing. Usually something downvoted that much is because the poster was being deliberately offensive or needlessly combative…
Comment by Transmission — September 8, 2012 @ 6:15 pm
ataraxia, there have been ~600,000 pitches thrown this season. one resulted in this. that’s why you don’t rush to rearrange the rules and equipment of an entire sport. 1 in 600,000.
Minor correction: an epidural hematoma is not bleeding within the brain. The dura surrounds the brain and central nervous system like a thick leather cover. Epidural means outside the dura. Subdural is under the dura. Both are devastating bleeds potentially, though the epidural has higher risk in the immediate because the high pressure middle meningeal artery is what ruptures from the skull fracture and it bleeds fast and squeezes the brain.
Sounds like he had a brain contusion on top of that, which is essentially a brain bruise. Neurons have an amazing ability to repair themselves, so the likelihood for a complete or near complete recovery here is quite high. That said, we’re talking about elite athletes, so the loss of 1% could be significant.
My thoughts exactly. It wasn’t some jerk or troll comment or even some fanboy comment like “I think the Red Sox should trade Aviles, Melancon, and Lavarnway for Mike Trout.” Yeah, I think it’s an impractical idea, but I don’t think it deserves thumbs down like that.
Comment by Mcneildon — September 8, 2012 @ 11:04 pm
Glad to see you graduated from the university of the internet. Your first paragraph is good. The second is drivel.
1) “brain bruise” is not a medical term, just like “brain contusion” is not a medical term
2) neurons are the worst cells in the body when it comes to repairing themselves
Comment by Billy Beane — September 8, 2012 @ 11:08 pm
Just your normal 1-5-3 ground out.
Comment by Big Jared — September 9, 2012 @ 7:14 am
Actually, I am a physician and helped take care of kids with craniofacial anomalies for many years. So, while I am not a neurologist, many of my colleagues are. We actually do have active discussions about these topics. I was merely trying to correct something and frame the injury a little differently. Seems like you have some other issues. Good luck.
Would cerebral contusion suffice? Would you like a treatise on this?
And yes, intracellularly, brain cells do a fair amount of self-repair. They are not like other cells of the body (like liver cells that can actually regenerate), and they are not stem cells, but they are not Sid Fernandez-like in their abilities.
If every pitcher would grow their hair like Pedro Martinez, and apply similar amounts of soul-glow, my understanding of the physics/chemistry of these scenarios would result in the ball breaking apart into harmless bits upon impact.
My bad, thought the retirement was related to the HPB. Only meant to make a point about how difficult it is to assign motives to someone who doesn’t return after an injury.
Comment by BookWorm — September 10, 2012 @ 11:17 am
For a quick partial fix while they develop something else, why not require pitchers to wear the style helmet John Olereud used to wear at first, I beleive as a direct result of taking a liner to the head as a pitcher in college? It’s small enough not to be in the way, but at least would give better protection than now until something more comprehensive could be developed.
Bookworm: “Only meant to make a point about how difficult it is to assign motives to someone who doesn’t return after an injury.” Except that you didn’t make the point.
It’s not difficult at all to determine a motive when they frankly tell you why they left the game. Pitch and flinch is a game changer. Most, maybe all, pitchers who have made it to the Big Leagues will get past a ball to the head. Hitters too. That is not true at lower levels, where intimidation is still separating them out.
Anyone who knows them, including relatives, will tell you that Big League players are not like other people. Since high school they have made it through an 88% attrition rate at five different levels before they play in the show.
Anyway, the point of my post was that no one has any business imposting something on pitchers that they can already do voluntarily themsleves. Which they obviosly don’t want to do. When hitters were required to wear helmuts back in the day, they actually wanted to do it, but they didn’t want to be seen as the only one. Pitchers clearly don’t want it. Hell, Adrian Beltre won’t wear a cup. Let the wagging fingers go try their luck on that one.
Comment by james wilson — September 10, 2012 @ 12:58 pm
Olerud had had a brain aneurysm. People just assumed he’d been beaned.
Also, I think a major issue with a lot of the proposed helmets is the violence inherent to the pitching motion. Henderson Alvarez pitches with goggles, but at least once a game he’ll throw a pitch with enough force that the goggles go flying. I wonder if an Olerud cap would stay on.
Maybe some kind of lightweight liner could push the hat a couple of centimetres away from the head and absorb some of the blow, but something thick and over-the-cap might cause pitchers enough problems with their deliveries that there would be resistance. You’d get used to it, but even a couple of extra pounds could throw off the equilibrium of a Chad Bradford/Booe Logan type.
Comment by dougiejays — September 10, 2012 @ 4:10 pm
Rusty Ryal hit Hiroki Kuroda in the head with a line drive comebacker in 2009. Ryal seemed to feel really bad about it, and when asked about Ryal shortly after his return to pitching, Kuroda said that he hopes Ryal becomes a superstar player. Touched my heart.