In 2005, umpire Ed Hickox was hit by a foul ball behind home plate. It knocked his mask off as it hit him in the jaw and caused broken bones and a concussion. Hickox sued Wilson, the mask’s manufacturer. Yesterday a jury returned a verdict in his favor to the tune of $775,000.
The key thing in Hickox’s favor, according to his lawyer, was that Wilson didn’t do any testing of the mask before distributing them — for free — to umpires. Rather, they depended on those umpires using the masks as defacto field tests. Hickox’s lawyer uses the phrase “human guinea pigs,” which I’m guessing was the theme of his case at trial too. Always gotta have a theme.
I’ve been thinking about injurious foul balls Since Luis Salazar got hit in the head last week. Yesterday I spoke with someone who works in the game who is convinced that it’s only a matter of time before someone is killed by one. Probably a fan. That’s another topic from this Hickox business of course — and I’ll be writing more about it soon — but all of this news combined with a week of walking on baseball fields close players as they hit and throw makes one realize that it’s damn dangerous down on that field. We don’t think about this very often as we see little white balls fly around on TV as though they are weightless, but a baseball can do a lot of damage.
Gives you a new appreciation for the batters who stand in there, the pitchers who stand in the direct line of fire — often unable by virtue of their follow through to defend themselves — and the catchers and umps who are nicked, banged, and battered multiple times a game.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.