This isn’t Family Feud or Miss USA, but the results are in…

Chipper Jones
This isn’t Family Feud or Miss USA, but the results are in…
September 23, 2014

Ernst & Young was not needed for the tabulation of these prestigious results.

Over the period of one week, I posted on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook asking my friends who had a spare moment to take this survey for class that is based on the popular opinion of Major League Baseball according to fans.

Respondents: 40

Question 1: Are you a fan of Major League Baseball?
Yes: 32 (80%)
No: 8 (20%)

If respondents answered no to question one, they automatically skipped past question two, three and four.

Question 2: Where does your League allegiance lie?
American League: 20 (63%)
National League: 9 (28%)
No Allegiance: 3 (9%)

Question 3: Which is your favorite National League team?
Atlanta Braves: 3 (33%)
San Francisco Giants: 2 (22%)
New York Mets: 4 (44%)

Question 4: Which is your favorite American League team?
Oakland A’s: 2 (10%)
Houston Astros: 1 (5%)
Baltimore Orioles: 2 (10%)
Texas Rangers: 1 (5%)
Tampa Bay Rays: 4 (20%)
Boston Red Sox: 2 (10%)
Detroit Tigers: 1 (5%)
Minnesota Twins: 1 (5%)
New York Yankees: 6 (30%)

Question 5: Should pitchers wear protective headgear?
Yes: 14 (36%)
No: 25 (64%)
Total Responses: 39

Question 6: Has Instant Replay helped enhance the game of baseball?
Yes: 27 (71%)
No: 11 (29%)
Total Responses: 38

Question 7: What do you think about MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention & Treatment Program?
It’s not very good.: 4 (10%)
It’s a good start but it needs improvement.: 29 (74%)
It’s great!: 6 (15%)
Total Responses: 39

Question 8: Should players who are caught taking PEDs or admit to taking PEDs during their time as a professional ball player be eligible for the Hall of Fame?
Yes: 18 (46%)
No: 21 (54%)
Total Responses: 39

Question 9: Is there a problem facing baseball that you believe needs to be addressed? If yes, please elaborate.
This was an optional question with a text field so participants were able to express any concerns without limitation.

Quotes from anonymous participants:
(1) “Baseball and their drug policy look like gold right now in comparison to all the NFL player issues and how the NFL just had to renegotiate their drug policy.”
(2) “As an avid baseball fan I think the season could be shortened without losing the games integrity. Fans lose steam over 7 months.”
(3) “Honestly, free agency for many years now has been so prevalent that the guys you root against one year are on your favorite team in the next one, two or three years. So you’re rooting for a uniform rather than getting to know lots of the players. Free agency is good, but I lost some interest in baseball when the rosters would change significantly and often.”
(4) “With attention spans lower than ever, MLB needs to speed up play to keep fans engaged.”
(5) “Bench clearing brawls need to stop. Enact hockey rules and no one leaves the bench!”

Responses with stars indicate the recurrence in responses.
Pace of the game *******
Salary Cap **
Free Agency
Catcher’s blocking the plate
Bias against players who did PEDs before there was a rule against them.
Cost of seeing a game.
Not enough day games during the World Series.
Home field advantage being determined by the All-Star Game.
Bench clearing brawls

My Analysis:
* Major League Baseball has had ongoing conversations for years about PEDs and the Hall of Fame. I wanted to take a look at the teams that had well known substance users that were popular figures in the game and see if that team’s fans were for or against the admittance of players known for PED use into the Hall of Fame.
Oakland Athletics (Jose Conseco): 100% of respondents said yes, offenders should be able to be eligible for the Hall of Fame.
New York Yankees (Alex Rodriguez): 5 respondents said no, a player who did PEDs should not be eligible, and 1 respondent said yes they should be eligible.
San Francisco Giants (Barry Bonds): This was split 50% / 50%.

(Disclaimer for above: The players listed above are not the only players who have taken performance enhancing drugs during their careers–they are just some of the more popular cases. The teams associated with each player indicate the team the player is best known for playing with even though he may have played for multiple ball clubs.)

* I was alarmed by the 64% of respondents that indicated pitchers should not wear protective headgear. That really makes me wonder about what type of action they believe should be taken in place of the headgear then since so many players have sustained dangerous injuries. We can see on the reverse side of things that a batter wears a helmet to protect himself from getting hit in the head so my case is based off of that. Why does it become okay for a hitter to protect their head but not a pitcher? Some make the case of movement and that a helmet could prevent a pitcher from performing at full potential.

I will warn you that some of the below incidents with a ball hitting a pitcher may be a little unsettling to watch. Here is a story that ESPN did featuring pitchers who have gotten hit and how they feel about the protective headgear.

8/7/2014 – Miami Marlins pitcher Dan Jennings is hit with a 101 mph line drive off the bat of Pirates’ Jordy Mercer.

3/19/2014 – Reds’ Aroldis Chapman suffered fractures above his left eye and nose after being hit in the face by a ball off the bat of Royals’ Salvador Perez.

6/15/2013 – A little over a month after J.A. Happ fractured his skull in Tampa, Rays’ Alex Cobb is hit by a blast from Eric Hosmer of the Royals on the same mound.

5/7/2013 – J.A. Happ of the Toronto Blue Jays fractured his skull when getting hit with this line drive off the bat of Tampa Bay’s Desmond Jennings.

9/5/2012 – While a member of the Oakland Athletics, Brandon McCarthy is hit by a line drive off the bat of Angels’ Erick Aybar.

These are just some of the more recent head injuries and do not account for every happening.

Alex Torres of the San Diego Padres became the first pitcher to wear protective headgear. He is quoted as saying, “It could save our lives, if someone hits a ball to your head. I get it for free, so I’m just gonna use it to see how it feels.”

My follow up question to you is, what should be done?

* Like the vast majority of participants in my survey, I agree that MLB has done a great job with creating a policy to prevent the illegal use of drugs in the game and that over time, they will be able to make improvements to better it. It’s a good start.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in my survey. I really enjoyed viewing the results and reading the anonymous comments. Many of you brought up really great concerns about the future of our pastime and I fully believe that Major League Baseball is dedicated to sustaining the history and culture of our favorite game while diligently working to make improvements.

8 thoughts on “This isn’t Family Feud or Miss USA, but the results are in…”

  1. Re: PEDs and the HOF. It’s important to note the HOF is a museum with no direct linkage to Major League Baseball. Whether a player is deemed ineligible is up to the BBWAA and the HOF board of directors, MLB has no influence beyond lobbying.

    Re: pitcher protective headgear. I selected no based on the question phrasing, wasn’t sure if you were asking “should MLB mandate protective headgear” or “Do I think its a good idea for pitchers to wear one”. Currently the only incarnation of protective headgear offered for pitcher is the one Alex Torres wore. Unfortunately this version only protects the cap area when most pitchers are hit in the face area. Therefore I do not think MLB should mandate protection until technology can address the actual problem(not sure how it can be done without masks which is highly unlikely to happen–also what about batters ie Stanton) but if pitchers choose to wear one sure why not

    1. Pat,
      The writers do ultimately make the vote, but MLB obviously has some sort of an influence. I don’t think it is possible to measure the actual influence, but if they believe strongly in something, I think people are willing to at least listen.
      The ESPN link under the headgear section shows two different styles of a hat that is being “developed.” It will only cover 40% of the head. So in the case of someone like Chris Young who took the hit below the hat, it wouldn’t help. But for someone like Joe Martinez the cushioning in the hats could have taken away some of the impact.
      Those batters who have gotten hit in the face in recent years (i.e.: Chase Headley and Jason Heyward–and probably Stanton when he returns) now have the added extension on their helmet to protect themselves more. While it may seem vain, some softball players–both pitchers and batters–wear masks to protect their faces. Does it look manly? No. COULD it help in the event something crazy happens? I would venture to think so.
      Now being repetitively tackled in a football game and having a chance encounter with a baseball hitting your head are two very different things, it may be worthwhile to pay attention to the studies that the NFL is doing to see long term effects from tackles and concussions. We have to consider the risk that some pitchers are facing with the head trauma as well. Velocity and speed are continuing to increase and it seems more and more players are getting hurt. What will be the long term effects to these players that have gotten a head injury? What happens if it happens again to them?
      Would you wear a protective head piece if it was light weight and shielded more than 40% of your head? I think I would.

      1. Whether or not pitchers (and subsequently batters) where protective gear more often in the future comes down to two factors
        1. is it mandated by the league
        2. how it affects performance.
        I don’t really think guys care about how it looks necessarily bc if it serves its purpose without hindering performance(actually or psychologically) guys would adapt. But in order to do that you have to start in the MiLB and grandfather it in.

        Would I wear a version of one of the current incarnations? Depends how comfortable/distracting it is, but probably not though as there has been close to 700,000 pitches thrown this year and only 1 came back and hit a pitcher in the head. Though I still feel like without protecting the face you really aren’t achieving much, and mandating a mask like protector is going to be a really tough sell to the PA and will likely take a pitcher getting killed first(Ray Chapman died in 1920 and batting helmets weren’t grandfathered in until the 40’s)

        The real area where concussions and head injuries in baseball needs to be addressed is with catchers as they are suffering them much more frequently and its causing teams to move players out from behind the dish(Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana, etc)

        1. One of the videos actually addressed that–it will probably sadly take a pitcher losing his life before something is enforced. I’m sure Baseball Prospectus or someone out there has some type of compilation showing the increasing dangers. I truly wonder what the percentage of these past two seasons would be vs maybe seasons from the 1970s or 1980s in relation to the probability of a pitcher getting hit and then the severity of the injury. We can infer since it appears to be rising, conversations have to at least start at some point with a diligent effort being made to actually do something.
          It’s hard to play with the rules because runners have now gotten injured trying not to collide into the catcher this year too. It really does seem like this past season was plagued with injuries. I realize that trying to avoid the catcher may be a new concept for some base runners who are really aggressive, so maybe conditioning them to somehow handle the situation different can help improve their odds of not being injured… but the catchers are a completely different story! I’ve heard chatter and rumors from friends that Posey will probably be the next catcher converted to a first baseman.

  2. Hi Megan,
    What an interesting survey topic! I am a big sports fan, but mostly only watch College football & basketball. So, I like to see a little something different being discussed. 🙂

    I was curious what your thoughts are in regards to the question about favorite teams and team allegiances. I would guess that the teams mentioned – and thus team allegiances – were probably locale based.

    And, I agree with your thoughts on pitchers needing to wear protective gear. My youngest son started playing Little League last year, and while it’s a fun game, it’s a little unsettling as a parent to watch. When my son was up to bat one time he got nailed with a pitch right in the arm. Luckily he was okay, but the older the kids get, and the faster balls are. I would think having some added safety gear on pitchers and even other players would be a good thing.

    1. Hey Bobbie!
      I wanted to ask about favorite teams to see if that had any correlation with how people felt about the drug policy, or if maybe thoughts and feelings on things were regional in any respect. Since I only have 40 participants, it was really hard to measure those results and see if any conclusion really could be drawn… I would have needed a bigger sampling. For the most part, I cannot think of any respondents off hand, team allegiances were aligned with where it said the participant was responding from (i.e.: respondent from Texas was a Rangers fan, respondents from New York were both Mets fans).
      I was reading an article online not too long ago that was talking about how the speed and velocity of a ball are continuing to increase. I would assume that at some point protecting the players better would need to be more seriously discussed. About two weeks ago Giancarlo Stanton got hit in the face while he was batting and he lost teeth, broke bones, etc. That’s scary stuff! I’m sure being a parent has to be really difficult watching your child get plunked! We need to think of something to keep the kids safe, for sure.

  3. Hey Megan! I loved your post. I am so glad that you also decided to do a sports post on controversial sports issues. I chose to do my survey on NCAA governance and pay-for-play models. Like NCAA governance, PED and helmet policies are hotly debated issues that people have strong opinions on. Yet, some people do not know much about either issue. When people are faced with a survey on a topic which they are not very knowledgeable of, I believe they are more likely to educate themselves on that topic. I think that those who answered your first question with “No” may have found themselves interested in learning more after taking part in your survey- at least I hope so!

    Concussions in all sports are very serious. The sport of baseball puts pitchers and umpires in very dangerous circumstances. I am very surprised and worried that 64 percent of your respondents did not believe that pitchers should wear helmets. If you were to do a follow-up survey sometime it would be interesting to evaluate the audience’s understanding of the risks and injuries that pitchers are faced with throughout their careers. I think a lot of opinions in sports are formed on very little knowledge. The Hall of Fame and PED questions were really intriguing, especially when you asked specifically about particular star players who are known to have used PEDs.

    Great survey and great topics! Your post was enjoyable and informative.

    1. Hey Jennifer,
      I hope you are right too about people wanting to educate themselves about the topics in our surveys if they did not have a basic understanding of what is currently going on. These are definitely issues that are at the forefront of discussions so helping others to have a better grasp can only help us generate additional ideas for how things can be improved and handled.
      I was talking with one of my friends who told me they took my survey and told them about the 64% of respondents that thought pitchers didn’t need to wear any type of head gear and they thought that was crazy. I really do want to do a follow up survey and find out additional information because it’s interesting to see the popular opinion and how knowledgeable some respondents really are when you supply them the opportunity to input text in a field.
      One of my friends also commented to me that after I had published my survey, the current MLB Commissioner put together a committee to investigate what can be done about the pace of play… and that was the most popular “write in” answer when I asked participants to list anything they believe needed to be handled in the future. I told my friend that obviously my survey inspired them so it was all my doing. One can hope, right?! :o)

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