Remember that talk about pitcher helmets last year?

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First, an update on Brandon McCarthy, via his wife:

Jeez, Brandon. Walking right out of the gate? POUND THE ZONE!

Seriously: great news that all of the parts seem to be working properly.

Anyway, on to an article from this morning from Dustin Parkes about pitcher helmets, which reminds us that (a) technology exists that can help protect pitchers from traumatic injury via comebackers; but (b) the way people and sports work often means that such advances come slowly, albeit understandably so given the way the market works and human nature operates.

Most of us first heard about the pitcher helmets in the spring of 2011.  I wrote about it then. At the time I said that it would work an awful lot like those larger batting helmets worked a couple of years ago. And regular batting helmets before that. And every other safety measure in most walks of life: a pattern in which we begin with mockery, then move on to outrage, denial, grudging acceptance, and then finally acceptance.

Ultimately, all that will matter is if pitchers’ mechanics are the same with it and without it.  If so, players will be wearing them soon enough. If not, they’ll go on to the next thing.

UPDATE: Will Carroll talks about helmets in his latest column, just out today. He has another potential solution that may be more workable than helmets.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.