Time to give pitchers a break from body armor
Updated: Friday May 21, 2004 1:25AM
SI.com's John Donovan takes a look at the issue of body armor in the major leagues. Here are some of your takes on the topic:
Are you kidding? I'm just curious but how many Roger Clemens or Randy Johnson fastballs have you taken square off you're elbow. From experience in college I've taken a few and I say strap it up boys!
Let 'em wear it, but change the rule so that if they get hit by a pitch while armored, it is only called a ball (or a strike if the ump believes it would have crossed the plate) and the play is called dead. If they want a free base on a HBP, they can lose the armor.
We pay lots more money for tickets to games today than our grandfathers ever did. We expect to see our highly paid stars play baseball, not sit on the bench. Isn't Barry Bonds worth more to the game at the plate than he is in the trainer's room?
Linebackers in the NFL don't wear that much padding. I love baseball and I love to see the old highlights of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente. Never seen them with protective gear. Today's players are big, big sissies. The Babe just needed a beer and a dozen hot dogs. Today's players need a sponsor, steroids, elbow pads, shin pads, custom-fit helmet, sliding shorts, wrist bands, gloves sticking out of their back pocket, etc.
How do you enforce it? You allow a helmet. Do you outlaw protection for the top of the foot (foul balls) and shins only? If you allow shin protection, then why not elbow and forearm protection? Baseball painted itself into a corner by not acting on the body armor problem right away. Just like it is too late to fix the strike zone, the length of games and steroid usage.
Let them wear all the armor they want with one catch ... whatever they wear when they're batting, they also have to wear when they're fielding. Batting helmets excepted.
The only protective gear that should be used for protection is a face shield, but only if there has been an injury that occurred from being in the game. A broken nose or jaw is a perfectly acceptable reason to wear a protective mask. A root canal doesn't. I have never heard of anyone losing an arm from being hit by a pitch, so ditch the gear and take one like a man.
If a ball was coming at me 80 to a 100 mph, I sure would want something on me more than a T-shirt.
Enforcing the gear that the players are allowed to wear is not the issue. What needs to be enforced is the rule that says the batter is required to make an attempt to get out of the way of the pitch. If that rule was enforced, the protective gear would no longer be an issue.
I regard body armor as cheating. I have no respect for any player who wears it above his waist. I also regard wearing a uniform which is too large, a la Craig Biggio, as cheating. His uniform gets hit, no skin is ever touched, and he is awarded a base. That is cheating.
If the batters are allowed to look like Robocop, thus taking away the pitchers advantage of brushing them back, then they should not be allowed first base when they get hit. Instead, the batter can step to the plate with no fear of being hit or even having to step back from a "high and tight."
Sure I think it's OK. Why not give hitters full face shields and a chest protector? Then they can just dive in front of the ball on its way to the plate if they are behind in the count. I'd also throw in some corked bats and pine tar just for extra fun.
If you're afraid to stand in without the armor, it's time to get a real job. I don't remember any pictures of armor on Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth ... and while we're at it, raise the mound. Home runs are too cheap nowadays.