Therefore, for the moment, I'm breathing a little easier now than I was this morning. That reprieve allows one to start thinking about how the Reds will readjust their bullpen (Broxton? Hoover? Marshall?), but that can come later.
My other reaction is to immediately advocate measures that would fix this problem. As Craig Calcaterra noted, it's hard to know how to what to recommend here. I do think that we're very slowly starting on a trajectory toward requiring some kind of protection for pitchers. Pitching at the major league level is so difficult, however. It must require almost perfect balance and coordination to get the ball within a 3' by 1' box sixty feet away. Therefore, anything that has the potential to disrupt or interfere with that balance seems destined to be rejected.
|The IsoBlox padded hat. Ugly, uncomfortable,|
but at least a bit safer?
My guess is that it would take some practice, and the transition would sometimes be frustrating to watch. But yes, eventually pitchers would adapt. The problem is, as long as protection is entirely optional, I think we're very unlikely to see pitchers adopt the protection on their own. Some might give it a try. But my guess is that the moment they start to struggle, someone is going to suggest they go without it. And then, because Regression, they'll probably start throwing better once they take the gear off, and decide that it's just not for them.
So a league-wide policy, then? It worked for third base coaches. Yes, it has a chance to have a meaningful impact on player performance, and thus their livelihood. And yes, some pitchers--maybe max-effort throwers?--might be impacted more severely than others. But I see this as a workplace safety issue. Just as wearing a hard hat on a construction site is a requirement for worker safety, requiring some kind of head protection should probably be something that MLB strongly considers.
Will it happen? I'm under no illusions that it will happen soon. A first step would be to improve the hat (or find another) that at least a decent number of pitchers can sign off on, and yet still provides meaningful protection. But once that's done, I think MLB will need to mandate it if it is going to be used.