Legends On Deck

Alex Torres – Inspiration to Safety

Credit: Bill Kostroun

Credit: Bill Kostroun/NY Post

Alex Torres is an inspiration. From his native Venezuela, his skills have gotten him to the Major Leagues. A left handed specialist, he has really upped his game this season, playing an effective role with the bullpen-depleted New York Mets, even gaining his first save on April 18th of this year. Currently at a 2.08 ERA, he is a staple in the bullpen, and I’m proud to have him on my favorite team.

However, that’s ultimately not why he’s an incredible influence. Torres is the first pitcher in MLB history to wear a protective cap issued by MLB as a way to protect himself from the possibility of getting a concussion via a “comebacker” to the mound.

According to Nick Schwartz from the USA Today, the original design of the cap was “designed to protect pitchers in the event that they take a line drive to the head, and are fitted with energy-diffusing protective plates that create a bulge around the sides and front of the hat.” Torres unveiled the hat as a member of the San Diego Padres on June 21, 2014 and didn’t display any strange tendencies pitching the ball with the cushioned ball cap on.

However, it has been scoffed by a plethora of pitchers and critics. Listen to the commentary on the video above. His own home commentators made fun of Torres, for Pete’s sake. An original model of the cap, as seen in this tweet by Barry Davis, a reporter for the Blue Jays, is showcased. Davis’ comments in said tweet say it all when it comes to the majority of players.

 

According to Paul White in the USA Today, “caps are about one inch wider than regular caps but add about seven ounces to the normal 3-to-4-ounce cap.” Manufactured by isoBLOX, the cap is made with energy-diffusing protective plates. Coincidentally, the protective hat that Torres wore in the 6/21/14 went to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to be on display to showcase the next generation of protective gear for pitchers going forward.

This year, Torres has worn a modified version of the cap, a detachable padding created by Pinwrest. Basically, it’s a lab-tested cushion worn over the normalized baseball cap. It looks a lot less bulky and heavy than the isoBLOX variation, although it is ultimately the same weight. It is made of “plastic injection molded polymers combined with a foam substrate” with more protection around the temples of the cranium.

I legitimately feel saddened that other pitchers are not wearing the full on cap that Torres is rocking. Although alternatives are being used, like Collin McHugh’s Kevlar with padding inside of the hat, I truly don’t feel as if it’s enough. Torres’ coverage truly looks like an extremely better option.

As many fans have felt in the blog world, I truly feel it is an image issue. A lot of athletes might think they would look stupid with the cushion cap on. I disagree 100%. There is nothing weak about feeling safe. It is similar to when David Wright wore the oversized batting helmet after being hit in the head in 2009. A lot of critics and fans made fun of the Mets’ captain, which led to Wright ultimately going back to his original batting helmet and ditching the “Great Gazoo” look. Honestly, the Cap’n could have led a revolution on attempting to protect himself to avoid traumatic head injuries; instead, another tough guy statistic.

Alex Torres, however, doesn’t care about the opinions of others.

“I don’t care how I look, I care about the protection. It might be a while before we see more pitchers using it, but the cap feels good, and I hope to see people join me next season and the cap refined further,” stated Torres to ESPN during the 2014 season.

That right there is why Alex Torres is an inspiration. Stay true to yourself and be safe out there. Let’s hope and never see what happens in case a situation transpires like that.

 

Jon Harder

Editor at Legends On Deck
Jon was born in Queens and now resides in New Jersey. He is a die-hard Mets fan and believes HoJo should be in the Mets Hall of Fame. Not only is Jon a contributing writer on Legends On Deck, but he also is the founder of @HardwayHQ, host of the #TheHardwayPodcast and somewhat plays Air Hockey on http://HardwayHQ.com. You can follow Jon on Twitter @TheJonHarder