Has The Time Come For MLB Hitters To Wear Face Guards?

Face Guards

Has The Time Come For MLB Hitters To Wear Face Guards? | Sports Takes & News | TooAthletic.com

The scene was scary – Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper was hit in the face by a baseball traveling 97 miles-per-hour, knocking him out of his game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Thankfully, early reports from later that night was that Harper was OK, with him saying he “feels good” less than 24 hours after the incident. As the video made headlines on both sports and mainstream news programs, the question I have is simple: Has the time come for MLB hitters to be required to wear helmets with face guards? 

There was once a time in Major League Baseball where batting helmets only covered the top of a player’s head. It was only until the 1980’s when earflaps were made mandatory on helmets, which was an effort to provide the temple region of the head where a baseball could do the most damage to the brain. Just as the design of a catcher’s mask has evolved over the years, so too have helmets, allowing for safety to be as important as anything else once a baseball game begins. Yet, the design of helmets worn in the professional ranks are well behind those worn at lower levels, where protecting the entire head, including the face has been made a priority. With Major League pitchers routinely reaching triple digits with their fastballs, hasn’t the time come to protect hitters more than ever? 

I wouldn’t expect such a move to be made overnight, not with the Major League Baseball Players’ Association always looking to protect the personal rights of its membership. There would be arguments of how infrequently what happens to Bryce Harper takes place in the Majors where pitchers have the best control of anyone playing the game. Likewise, a debate over how players like Harper or Mike Trout would be able to promote their “brand” while wearing a birdcage over their face. However, the truth is that hitters are at risk of losing an eye or vision, or suffering facial injures akin to crashing in a car and hitting the dashboard or steering wheel if a fastball goes awry.

Which means this: While it may be great to have a brand, it is better for a player to still be able to see.

While making a face guard mandatory at the Major League level would require union approval, it would not need a sign off if implemented at the lower levels of the sport. Just as baseball did with helmets with ear flaps, starting off younger players in the minors will allow them to adjust to the feel and sight lines that a helmet with face guards would give hitters. Then, once they arrived in the Majors, they would already be accustomed to it, eliminating the need for a transition period.

Sadly, it will likely take a reaction to a tragedy before a move like this is made rather than being proactive and doing it before something goes terribly wrong. Perhaps if teams made helmets with face guards or jaw guards available to players to use in batting practice or even in spring training games, the fear of what it will be like to hit with it will go away, making it more likely come the regular season, a hitter won’t be wary about using it. Then, perhaps too, the stigma of not being “macho” by wearing a “normal” helmet would be gone, allowing players to take safety into their own hands without worrying about the childish heckling that will take place once a hitter steps into the box safer than he might be sitting in the stands.

Should Major League Baseball hitters wear better, safer helmets with face guards? Yes, and I bet one day they will.

 


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The post Has The Time Come For MLB Hitters To Wear Face Guards? appeared first on TOOATHLETIC TAKES.

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