Fashion history was made Saturday night as the Padres’ Alex Torres became the first pitcher to use the league’s new protective hat in a live game.
Of course, being fashionable isn’t the point, being safe is the point. A string of scary line drive incidents involving pitchers Brandon McCarthy, Alex Cobb and Juan Nicasio convinced MLB that it needed to offer a new headgear option for pitchers looking to protect their skulls.
Aroldis Chapman probably wishes he had been wearing one when he took that liner off the bean in spring training.
Despite the cap’s protective properties, pitchers have thus far been reluctant to wear it, mostly I suspect because it looks kind of weird. There are also concerns that the cap won’t truly be effective in protecting the head.
When asked why he decided to go with the new cap, Torres said a scary near-miss in spring training convinced him. He said he ordered the cap about a month ago and it just arrived last week.
Torres’ willingness to adopt the new hat could be just the thing the league needs to convince other players that it’s okay. Now that one guy has done it, breaking the Giant Skull-Saving Hat barrier, others may now follow.
On the other hand, some guys may get a look at the video and decide they are never going to wear the cap. As with most safety innovations, voluntary adoption will likely not get the job done. The league will probably have to make these hats mandatory if they want 100 adoption.
Either that or they could sign an endorsement deal with a rapper. Call the hats “Caps By Dre.” Every player will want one then.