Monday, August 31, 2009

Headgear makes the man

Nothing makes your stomach turn faster at a ballgame than the sound of a baseball hitting a batting helmet:
David Wright has been reduced to a spectator since a beanball sent him to the hospital two weeks ago. The New York Mets slugger hopes to return to the lineup Tuesday and isn't taking any chances.

He's planning to wear Rawlings' bulky, new S100 batting helmet if it arrives in time for the game at Coors Field.

"I imagine they got some pretty smart people that designed them so I'm sure it works pretty good," the All-Star third baseman said. "If it provides more safety, then I'm all for it."

The helmet has drawn some barbs. Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster wore it and said it felt like "my own bobblehead day."

No matter, Minor League Baseball and the St. Louis-based company announced Monday it will be required in the minors beginning next season. Six S100 helmets are being sent to each major league team for its players to try out for the rest of this year.

The thicker protection features a composite insert and an expanded liner made of Polypropylene, a hard, supportive material also used in some industrial and bicycle helmets. It faced extensive testing over the last two years that included an air cannon firing major league balls to ensure it would hold up.

Long overdue, I would suspect. One thing I do appreciate about weekends and ESPN is the coverage they give to college baseball, college softball, and little league baseball games. I believe that I have actually watched as much of this stuff as I have of Major League Baseball this year, primarily because, when you live in the Washington D.C. area, you get bumpkis for baseball. It's either the gNats or the Birds, and neither have done well this year.

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