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200 Miles From the Citi


September 6, 2009 4:01 AM

SUNDAY PAPER

I'm a little disappointed in the way things played out with the new and improved extra-protective batting helmet that David Wright tried out this week.

I'll admit - the things look silly. Players from the Mets and Rockies apparently called Wright The Great Gazoo, referencing the Flinstones character...I think it brings to mind Michael Dukakis. Regardless, I think they're necessary, and I don't think David Wright helped matters much by deciding to ditch the helmet after one game.


According to Wright, the change was due to comfort rather than appearance, but he took enough ridicule from all angles that I have to think he was somewhat worried about his image.

And that's the problem, because Wright is a star, and his image could have helped garner more widespread use of the product.

The Rawlings S100 helmet has extra padding and has been shown to withstand 100-mile-an-hour pitches thrown from 2 feet away. David Wright, for example, was hit by a 90+-mile-an-hour fastball from 60 feet, 6 inches away. And he's just the most prominent example.

The head is a sensitive area - and this is an issue that becomes more and more relevant as pitchers throw the ball harder and harder. I think it sends a horrible message when players like Jeff Francoeur talk about how they won't wear the helmets because they don't want to look like "clowns".

The idea of the helmet is protection, not style. We're in the year 2009 here, so I'm sure there will be some sort of technological advancement soon where the same kind of protection is offered in some sort of slimmer model. But I think priority number one when they're sitting down testing these helmets is not to make sure Jeff Francoeur doesn't look like a clown.

Unfortunately, David Wright looked like a clown, and he didn't like it. Maybe it would have been better for him to try the helmet out at home, so at least he didn't get ridiculed by the fans.

As it stands now, Major League Baseball will require minor league teams to wear the helmets next season. Hopefully that carries into the majors soon...or Rawlings gets something together that doesn't look so padded.

The events of the past week have given the helmet a bit of a black eye. But if the players don't start wearing it, they might suffer something much worse.

*I hate poor sportsmanship. I hate self-congratulatory behavior, especially when it is directed at someone else specifically to put them down. And I hate seeing fights. So I'm pleased that a heavy punishment was doled out to Oregon's LeGarrette Blount for his sucker punch to the jaw of Boise State's Byron Hout. And I don't want to say Hout had it coming, but he certainly didn't help matters by going up to Blount to rub it in. Yes, Blount had done a lot of talking leading up to the game, and probably during the game. But Hout should have let the scoreboard speak for itself. I'm glad Boise State's coaches reacted to Hout's actions the way they did, and it's unfortunate the way Blount reacted...but none of it should have happened if everyone had been a good sport in the first place.

*One thing I took away from last week's Jets-Giants pre-season matchup is that I didn't realize Mario Manningham was with the Giants. I missed his four catches last season, I guess. It looks like he'll be a bigger part of their plans this year, which I like, because I'm liking the Manning-to-Manningham name connection.

*Lots of mixed feelings as I sat and watched a lot of college football on Saturday. I really enjoyed it, obviously, but that means there's no turning back - back to school, end of summer weather, all that. I do love the fall, but there's a tough adjustment period, especially this year.

*Your Long Island Ducks update - Their playoff position is in jeopardy - they're a game behind second-place Bridgeport, but they play Bridgeport later this week. Long Island is 26-28, six games behind the division leader. You better believe Hall of Famer Gary Carter will have his players fighting for that wild card spot this week. We'll have another update next week.

*Can't wait for the NFL to get going. I'll have some previews coming this week.

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