MLB Must Update Safety Protocols And Equipment After Damar Hamlin
Right now, it is irresponsible to speculate if there was anything that could have been done to prevent Damar Hamlin from suffering cardiac arrest after that collision. Certainly, manufacturers are going to go back to the drawing board, and they are indeed going to look to see if they could do anything to prevent that awful moment from every happening again on the field.
Obviously, everyone is going to look at this as an NFL issue. With football being an inherently violent sport, you just assume this is going to happen in football more than any other sport. However, no other sport is immune to these types of tragedies, and this should be a wake up call for all sports to review their safety equipment and protocols.
Look at the New York Mets this past season. They were hit by pitches more than any other team in baseball. There were multiple scary moments with fastballs going up-and-in at the batters, and remember, these pitches are now traveling around or above 100 MPH at times. Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor having the C-flaps on their helmets prevented each of them from more significant and potentially catastrophic injury.
Lindor just got beamed in the face (saved by helmet flap).
Dugouts & bullpens cleared, near brawl 👀
— 4_sumthin_24 (@ace_1985) April 9, 2022
Even with that happening, not everyone on the Mets wears the c-flap. Part of the reason is the c-flap is not currently mandated by Major League Baseball. To a certain extent, the players are to blame because they are always resistant to different changes like that. For example, go back to the 1986 World Series, you’ll see players like Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez not wear the ear flaps on their batting helmets.
At some point, the league and the union has to save the players from themselves. For baseball, this goes beyond just the batting helmets.
There are heart protective shirts available to help protect the heart after a direct impact from a hard hit ball. Baseball doesn’t mandate that despite batted balls screaming towards the pitcher at speeds well in excess of 100 MPH. The same goes for infielders who are actively taught to take the ball off the chest when there is a bad hop. Mandating these shirts could prevent an injury or other catastrophic incident.
Former Met Cliff Floyd has invested in protective liners in caps to protect against line drives taken to a fielder’s head. This would be of real importance to pitchers who are vulnerable with line drives screaming back at the mound. We have all seen at least one incident where a pitcher is hit with a line drive and is left bloodied on the mound.
It is possible Floyd’s product is not ready for MLB use, but we also don’t hear or see MLB investing in it or a similar product. More than that, we never really hear MLB or players speak out about the need for protective equipment like this at the Major League or youth recreational levels.
What we do know is all sports are inherently dangerous. It takes an incident in the sport to mandate changes, and even with those incidents, players are typically dragged along instead of willing participants.
Whatever the case, we saw Damar Hamlin almost die on the field after what was a routine play. While the NFL has been criticized for its immediate response, the one thing they got right was the medical training and protocols for their medical professionals at the games. That saved a life, and it is something each and every sport should be investigating and emulating at the moment.
Make no mistake, what happened to Hamlin could happen in any sport. The goal for each sport right now is to immediately assess their safety equipment and protocols. They need to see what changes they can make to stop whatever trauma they can, and they need to make sure their medical policies and procedures match what the NFL had in place which ultimately saved Hamlin’s life.