Thank Goodness for Gazoo Helmets

You’ve seen it, if you’ve watched a Yankees game this year. That’s because Francisco Cervelli, the Italiovenezuelan Posada replacement, wears the giant helmet at bat. It looks ridiculous, making Cervelli look like his own bobblehead – if he actually had one. Hey, if he keeps hitting .354/.426/.451 all year, maybe they’ll make a bobblehead of him. And then it could have the giant helmet, and the bobblehead’s head would be the size of a real life normal helmet, and… I think this is when people say “but I digress.”

Why do I bring these helmets up? Because of this little article on a Nats catching prospect. It’s not just any Nats catching prospect, it’s THE Nats catching prospect, Derek Norris. Norris was beaned in the head last Friday night, and was taken to the hospital. This was a scary beaning, not a scary-for-a-second beaning, then the guy runs to first base. From the article, he:

reportedly was motionless on the field for 10 minutes before he was taken away in an ambulance

This is real scary. He ended up with a concussion, and was put on the 15-day DL. Apparently, he was actually unconscious for 45 seconds.I won’t get into the dangers of concussions, how they’ve actually ruined successful athletes’ careers, or anything like that. They’re bad, and people are learning that they may be worse than we used to think they were. What’s important about this article is the line, a little later down in the original article:

Norris was wearing an S100 helmet, which became mandatory for all Minor Leaguers this season following a spate of beanings in the Majors last year. Manufactured by Rawlings Sporting Goods, the helmets feature enhanced protection from a composite insert and an expanded liner made of Polypropylene, a hard, supportive material that is also used in some industrial and bicycle helmets

That S100 helmet is the ridiculous looking Great Gazoo helmet. And if he wasn’t wearing it, we might be worrying less about how this one concussion would affect this guy’s career, and worrying more about whether or not he was going to survive.

This past offseason Norris was considered the organization’s #2 prospect by Baseball America (and they said he was the best hitter for average and power, with best strike zone discipline in the organization) and Baseball Prospectus (one of two “5 star” prospects) behind you-know-who. Even after they sign Bryce Harper, he may be the catcher of the future, because while everyone knows Harper can hit, they don’t know if he’s a big league catcher. Norris looks to be the real deal. It’s important for the Nats that he comes back healthy, and if he does, this helmet may be the reason why.

But more important than that, this incident shows that Minor League baseball’s decision to mandate these helmets was a wise idea. And after an incident like this, Major League baseball, who appears to want to bring them in slowly, needs to think about mandating them immediately.

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