First, let me say this; I hope that Tampa Rays’ pitcher Alex Cobb is doing well today after being struck with a line drive yesterday. The ball traveled off the bat of Eric Hosmer upwards of 100mph as it Cobb behind the right ear. Cobb was taken off the field on a stretcher and is believed to have a minor concussion as he continues to be evaluated this morning.
This is the second time this month a Major League Baseball pitcher has been hit with a line drive. Toronto Blue Jays’ pitcher J.A. Happ was struck by a liner and also suffered a concussion.
As is the American way these days, the reaction to this incident was swift and harsh and filled with fear. Journalists’ like USA Today’s Christine Brennan immediately called for changes and more steps to protect pitchers. Much like the National Football League continues to use ‘player safety’ as its’ excuse to battle the lawsuit leveled by former players MLB will now be pushed to do the same to protect pitchers.
Frankly, this typical over-reaction makes me sick. How many games have been played in professional baseball since the 1880′s? Over that time, how many millions of pitches have been thrown without incident? Now, because we’ve seen two incidents of pitchers being hit in the last month, we are going to require pitchers to wear helmets or some other form of protection. I’m in no way suggesting the game shouldn’t be made safer if the technology is there to do it without impacting the game, but this would and I guarantee most MLB pitchers would not choose to wear the head gear.
If we are going to take steps to protect pitchers based on two recent events (never-mind how many thousands of pitches have been thrown without incident) then we better do the same for all players right? We already allow batters to stand up there with forearm pads, ankle pads and elbow pads so why not just put all MLB’ers in protective-style suits resembling a snowmobile suit?
While obviously I hope that Cobb fully recovers and returns to the mound, we cannot allow such random events to immediately alter the way the game is played. Frankly, batters need to get rid of the protective crap as well other than their helmet. Watching Barry Bonds get ready for an at-bat was like watching an astronaut suit up for a spacewalk. Hopefully Commissioner Bud Selig, in his waning days as MLB’s boss, does not also jump to any rash and hurried decisions like his counterpart in the NFL often does.
Speaking of the National Football League, they too have once again found another way to piss off fans by eliminating bags any bigger than a woman’s clutch upon entry into NFL stadiums. Of course this is being done in the name of ‘safety.’ If someone wants to do harm to the fans, players and workers at an NFL stadium then they will find a way to do it regardless of the restriction.
What the NFL has done with one fell swoop is completely alienate the female fan base it has spent years trying to bring into the game. More and more fans will now choose to stay at home in the confines of their own living rooms rather than be subjected more crackdowns.
At what point do these over-reactions stop? The answer is easy, they don’t so get used to pitchers in bubble wrap and going to NFL games literally naked.