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Pitchers' head protection on the fast track

By October 30, 2012

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One of the scariest moments of the World Series happened in Game 2 in San Francisco, when Gregor Blanco hit a line drive that hit Tigers pitcher Doug Fister in the head with such force that it was fielded on one hop by Austin Jackson.

It was a lucky glancing blow for Fister, who was fine. The human skull can take some punishment, as the force on the ball was able to continue into center field.

Physics were on Fister's side. But a couple of inches down and it's a very different story. When those line drives hit something and go straight down, that object it hits must absorb all of that force. And that's what happened to Brandon McCarthy on Sept. 5, when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of the Angels' Erick Aybar that caused a skull fracture and brain contusion and caused him to miss the rest of the season.

So what's the solution? Some are calling for pitchers to wear helmets, but that's not going to be happening anytime soon. A helmet would get in the way of the delivery of many pitchers.

A better solution could come to the minors next season. According to an Associated Press report, MLB is fast-tracking a program to develop a baseball cap lined with Kevlar, which is the material that the military and police use for body armor. It could be used in the minors next season, and then the players' union could decide if they want to approve it in the majors.

"You don't want it to be too drastic," said Giants pitcher Barry Zito. "Little things can affect a pitcher's delivery."

Kevlar seems to be a great solution. It could avoid a potential tragedy someday.

What do you think?


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