Watching Giancarlo Stanton’s awful HBP again, and the thought occurred to me: “he’s going to be wearing a mask soon.” Jason Heyward started wearing one when he came back from his broken cheekbone suffered on a hit by pitch and has made it an everyday part of his equipment. Other players — famously Dave Parker back in the late 70s — adopted face guards to go along with their helmets on a temporary basis. It seems like something a lot of people would consider after such in incident.
Today Buster Olney calls for face protection to be mandatory. I don’t really object to that, but I think it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see something like that. Almost any significant new piece of equipment is likely to be grandfathered in the way hockey helmets were. If baseball mandates such a thing, it’s most likely that they’d only do so for players breaking into the bigs after thus and such a date, and only then after face guards have been in use in the minor leagues for a while. Kids who play little league ball with face guards and masks now are probably going to be the first generation that does so when they’re 25 years-old and playing in the bigs.