"And to all those who bash the face mask and those who wear them, I invite you to come stand 37 ft. away from me while I take BP."
I don’t think the face mask is a sign of diminished confidence. In the majority of players, I believe it enhances confidence. Players pulling their head out on ground balls, short hops, and bad hops are rampant. It’s a reaction. They don’t want to get hit in the face. But throw a face mask on them and BOOM! Guess who’s not getting hit in the face anymore? Don’t you think that would make any player more confident? I know it does for me. As a catcher, when I have my mask on and someone throws a short hop to the plate I’m dropping down to block it with no worries. If I have my mask off, my head is coming out of there and I’m not dropping to block it simply because I don’t want to take a shot to the face. My mask gives me confidence and allows me to make the plays. That’s the same for any player on the field. If it gives the player confidence and helps enhance technique…why not wear it? It’s definitely not hindering their game and can save a lot of money in medical bills.
I’m 25 years old. I’m in my 20th season and have played at elite levels all over the world and I’m telling you right now, if I had to pitch or play 3rd base and the person up to bat was myself…I’d be scared. When I come up to bat, I am dangerous. This may sound dramatic, but I have the potential to kill any of the players in the infield. If I hit a line drive and it hit an infielder square in the face, they could die. That’s a reality. And I’m not the only one who poses this threat. The older the girls get the bigger and stronger they are. The bat technology increases with each new year. Girls are weight training and conditioning like never before. A lot of people will say ‘Oh, if you’re good enough you won’t get hit.” Wrong. This has nothing to do with skill. This is science. The reaction time for a pitcher or corner player is practically nothing. You can only react as fast as your reactions will let you. Older, stronger players will put balls into play at speeds up to 100mph. Do you really want to bet a players reaction time against the power of a strong girl swinging a hot bat? Is it worth it? We watched the Missouri pitcher take a line drive to the head this year in the WCWS. This is an elite pitcher in the World Series. Are you saying if she were a better player she would have caught that ball? Because I’d beg to differ.
I think that for older players, you’re going to have a hard time convincing them to wear a mask. They’ve never worn one and they will say they can’t see through it (even though they can) or they think it makes them look weak and unskilled. But if you start them young, when the first start playing, they will never know the difference. Now, would I automatically try and throw a face mask on an outfielder? No, I don’t think that’s quite necessary. But young infielders, especially corners and pitchers, yes. I honestly believe the advancement of the fielders mask can be a great enhancement to the game. I think it has the potential to turn out even better defensive players – players who have no reservations or fears. I think it can eliminate pulled heads and closed eyes. Why wouldn’t we want those things? It's basically like someone telling you they are going to shoot at you with a gun but before they do, they are like 'Hey, do you want this bulletproof vest?" Why wouldn't you take the vest?
I honestly would love to see it become mandatory for corner players and pitchers to wear a mask. And there are people who disagree. They believe it means the players are weak and not good enough. “We never had masks back in my day and we still played the game.” Well, with all due respect to those people, screw that. There is no right or wrong way to look when you play this game. If a face mask gives you confidence – wear it. If a mouthpiece gives you confidence – wear it. If an elbow guard gives you confidence – wear it. If shin guards under your socks gives you confidence – wear it. If it doesn’t hinder performance and gives a player confidence...who cares? We aren’t developing weak or soft players by putting a face mask on them. We’re increasing confidence, enhancing technique, and potentially saving lives. And to all those who bash the face mask and those who wear them, I invite you to come stand 37 ft. away from me while I take BP.
I also invite you to watch this video: ESPN Sport Science: The Speed of Softball.
As well as these videos of girls getting hit in the face and tell me again how players shouldn’t wear face masks.
Softball Pitcher Gets Hit in Face
Softball Line Drive to Face
14 Year Old Pitcher Gets Hit in Face
And then I invite you to invest in a RipIt face mask for your infielder. (Seriously though, this is the best face mask you can get in my opinion. It’s thin, light weight, and easy to see out of.)