Alex Torres tonight became the first Major League Baseball player to sport the new IsoBlox protective pitching hat in a game.
The hat is obviously... different-looking. So naturally, Twitter came alive with the jokes. (Notice I didn't include any Mario/Luigi jokes because those just came off as lazy and I wanted to promote a little more originality here.)
Alex Torres be like pic.twitter.com/zGoJgHtOCe— Michael Nooris (@MichaelNooris) June 22, 2014
Alex Torres shoulda jumped up on that line drive up the middle & tried to headbutt the ball— elEddie G (@elEddieG) June 22, 2014
Alex Torres is Pharrell's new favorite baseball player.— Joe Lies (@TheThinGwynn) June 22, 2014
I am a great proponent of protective caps for pitchers like Alex Torres. But even Pharrell would say "Too Big" http://t.co/xCwcVySjuX— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) June 22, 2014
I'm developing a protective cap that keeps my brain insulated from the tedium of watching Alex Torres pitch. #soslow— Craig Elsten (@619sports) June 22, 2014
That Alex Torres protective cap photo is hilarious haha like when a pitcher suffers a serious head injury haha.— Wendy Thurm (@hangingsliders) June 22, 2014
Silly appearance aside, however, it's awesome of Torres to go out and wear the hat on the mound. He had to have known he'd get snide comments and people making fun of how he looks, but obviously advocating protection from injury was more important. As Pedro Moura pointed out:
Padres' Alex Torres used a protective cap tonight. Might be first MLBer to wear it. He replaced Alex Cobb when he was struck in head last yr— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) June 22, 2014
U-T sportswriter Dennis Lin reported after tonight's game that Torres' motivation to wear the hat wasn't just from secondhand experience with his teammates, but from firsthand experience, and that Torres doesn't seem to be concerned whatsoever about the hat's size:
Alex Torres said a close call in spring training scared him a bit. Ordered the protective cap about a month ago. Arrived a week ago.— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) June 22, 2014
Torres: "It doesn't feel bad. The difference between the regular hat and this hat is not really that big."— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) June 22, 2014
We Padres fans may also remember back in 2009 when Edgar Gonzalez was struck in the head while batting. He took a fastball to the helmet and had to be carted off the field. It was a scary moment, but thankfully EGon didn't suffer any really serious damage. Soon after that happened, Rawlings announced that they were going to introduce new, safer batting helmets with extra padding and ear flaps on both sides. These helmets were designed to withstand impact the impact from a 100mph fastball. Unlike some players, who refused to wear them because they felt the slightly bigger helmets would make them looks like clowns, Gonzalez did try it out. Unfortunately, he had to stop wearing it after a short while because the one he was given was ill-fitting and therefore not much safer for him than his old helmet. Still, it was great that he put protection over appearance, like Alex Torres did tonight.
Really great to see Padres pitcher Alex Torres wear the protective cap tonight, helping end stigma of how it looks. Safety first.— Terry Blount (@TerryBlountESPN) June 22, 2014
It's a step in the right direction towards keeping baseball players safer while they're playing these games for our entertainment. I'm sure there are still tweaks to be made as time goes on, but I hope more players start to follow Torres' lead after tonight.