Tha Sports Junkies 101

The Warning Track: Are We Waiting On Someone To Die?

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The Warning Track

With baseballs being hit harder than ever, is it time that Major League Baseball consider better protection for pitchers?


The Warning Track – On Sunday, the world watched in horror as Los Angeles Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker was struck in the head with a line-drive off the bat of Kyle Seager. The ball hit with such force that it caused Shoemaker’s skull to fracture. Along with the fracture, Shoemaker suffered a hematoma which required surgery to stop bleeding inside his skull.

The ball that struck Shoemaker had a projected exit velocity of 105 MPH. That is the same exit velocity of the ball that struck Pittsburgh Pirates rookie pitcher Jameson Taillon earlier this season. Taillon was lucky and did not even have to leave the game but the question still remains. Are we waiting on someone to die?

With major league hitters becoming stronger, it seems like a death by baseball is certainly possible. 105 MPH is faster than some cars can even travel these days. Imagine being hit in the head with a solid, white sphere traveling faster than an automobile.

The technology already exists for pitchers to become more protected on the mound. A company by the name of isoBLOX manufacturers padding that can be sewn into pitcher’s caps. The padding provides protection on balls hit in the 85-90 MPH range. While this could certainly help prevent some injuries, it is unclear whether it could have helped Matt Shoemaker or Jameson Taillon this season.

A form of protective padding can be seen worn by pitcher Alex Torres in 2015.

The Warning Track

Photo Credit – Arturo Pardavila via

This protective padding was made available for teams to test at the beginning of the 2014 season. One pitcher spoke out against the padding saying it “looked silly.” Ironically that pitcher was Brandon McCarthy who suffered a head injury on the mound in 2012.

If players like McCarthy, who have experienced a line-drive to the head call the protective padding “silly”, then what will other major league pitchers say about the product.

The whole mindset of style over safety in the major leagues is going to get someone hurt in the very near future. If more pitchers got on board with the safety measures, maybe more hurlers would come to their senses.

With the MLB discussing new ways to improve the game, I think this topic should at least be brought up and considered by the commissioner. A rule that requires pitchers to wear a form of protective head-gear would cut down on the injuries caused by rogue line-drives.

Some people argue that there are not enough injuries to the head area of pitchers from baseballs to make such a major step, but if even one life can be saved then the measures would be worth it.

Growing up watching baseball, I have always been fascinated by the ability of the pitchers to throw so fast but also be so accurate. That was my major problem and a big reason why I stopped playing baseball; I could not control the ball. It is such a science to control a baseball on a consistent basis. So much so that many would argue more padding to hats could damage the fragile science of control. By adding more weight to the caps of major league pitchers, it could change the way pitchers pitch. Just an addition of weight could change the release point or even entire deliveries of pitchers.

The added protection for pitchers could actually put the hitters at an increased danger level. While pitchers get use to the new hats, they may experience lack of control which is bad news for the batter. Some pitchers can pitch just as fast as the ball can be hit off the bat. For this reason, more testing should be done to insure that the safety measures are not putting more players at risk of injury.

So with a form of protection available to the players, what will it take for pitchers to realize that more protection can save lives. The game of baseball is evolving into a totally different realm than what is was 50 years ago. Bigger, faster, stronger seems to be the motto for baseball from the majors to little league. With increased performance and more balls in play, I fear it is only a matter of time until a player is killed by a line-drive.

As a fan, a player dying on national television would reflect very badly on the sport. For this reason, I believe that better forms of safety will be made available so that pitchers, and players overall can be better protected when they are on the field. After all, baseball is just a game that is not worth risking your life for.