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Everything posted by MadMax

  1. New Base Shoes Suggestions

    TOO. Damned. Hot. Here in Arizona, when it comes to base shoes, style takes a back seat to comfort. And comfort is pronounced “bree-thuh-bil-ih-tee”. You’re either a fool or a masochist if you insist on having polished, black leather shoes on a field, unable to escape the sun, in 100°+ degree heat, for one 2-hour game, let alone a tournament Saturday of 2-3 games in a row. Ventilate. Cool your damned feet off. The coaches are all wearing mesh-based “flex” runners / trainers anyway, and do you think they respect that you’ve polished your patent leather shoes base shoes to a gleaming shine? So, you may absolutely have your polished leather shoes, but the rest of us here in the Valley of the Sun will take a meshy-black running shoe in the meantime... ... and either knock, blow, or hose off the dust / sand that gets on or in them. @Stan W., what size shoe are you? I have a pair of those exact New Balance 950(?)’s in the mid-cut, size 11, and in excellent condition... that are useless to me.
  2. Runner Completely Misses First Base

    I’m with @Tborze on this one... how can you be called out for not touching the very base you’re standing on? But, I noticed something in the OP – “I said she missed the base and there was a dead ball appeal so she is out.” When did the ball become dead? What caused it to be so? I may not call softball much at all, but I know for certain that after a throw to 1B as an attempt to retire the BR, the ball does not become dead ambiguously. Only a ball leaving Live Ball Territory (and entering Dead Ball Territory, hence the name) or an Umpire calling Time will “kill” a Live Ball. Furthermore, you stated that “she (BR) immediately return(ed) around and goes back to the base”. So, I’m of the understanding that she did this while the ball was Live. Therefore, when and how did the Live ball become Dead? Hmm. No, that was not the correct call.
  3. Also, @The1yankee, you’re a (fairly) new account in the site, in your first month (or so). The site software is trying to prevent spammers and bots from turning this place into a dumping ground for (stupid) meme images and other useless crap. Your reputation score (the green number next to your handle) has something to do with it, and your rep score is determined by your activity on the site over time. As it sits, I’m posting this from my phone, and even I am limited to 0.98MB per upload.
  4. What is Your Primary Mask?

    +POS ZRO-G, Charcoal w/ Tan TWs, Smoke-silver sun visor +POS ZRO-G, Bay Blue (Sky, custom) w/ Black TWs, Spectrum-blue sun visor All-Star FM4000, Black (custom) w/ Tan TWs Honigs K-4, Navy w/ Navy All-Star LUCs, Smoke-silver sun visor Yes, when you do 400+ games per year, across all levels, all four masks are used on rotation.
  5. Super shiny Wilson, Nike, or All-Star

    Jeff, I was just telling Spencer... the mask is a game-changer in the brand/equipment wars. As light as Titanium without the propensity to bend. Die-cast Magnesium eliminates welds, which when done poorly by a Chinese supplier, have a tendency to pop on aluminum (which a certain company is recently experiencing). The only drawback, is that because the Magnesium alloy has very little mass, there’s no dampening, and a near-instantaneous transfer of that impact energy to... the pads. As such, All-Star has had to increase the volume (thickness) of the pads considerably. You cannot simply use conventional ol’ doeskin pads on this thing and hope that’ll do. Pads. Pads. Pads. It’s the pads, guys. And it’s going to become painfully obvious to someone soon that just because there’s a gold W on the mask, that company did not make that mask, and certainly did not make those pads. Now, how about a FM2000 in Magnesium for us umpires, eh?
  6. MadMax/Schutt XV retrofit

    Of course it gets the seal of approval. It's quite an enterprising endeavour you embarked on, especially that you used the existing Y-yoke instead of removing it like I advocate for.
  7. Weird Comparisons request: Plate Shoes

    I fully endorse Spence on this one, primarily in rarity factor. The Zigs were an ideal design – light, responsive, and with a really nifty, low profile metatarsal guard. Indeed, their demise wasn’t due to a flaw or deficiency, but because Reebok’s parent company, Adidas, doesn’t understand baseball and doesn’t care about umpires. In fact, Adidas pulled Reebok out of all Team sports and confined its focus on CrossFit. Ugh. CrossFit?! Really?! If you have access to a pair of Reebok Zig plate shoes in your size, I say get ‘em. If they don’t suit you – which is why I’ve not owned Reebok myself, as they don’t fit my arches – then you still have NB’s available... at least until 2019 and the inevitable UnderArmour models.
  8. MadMax/Schutt XV retrofit

    I'll take the blame, if it's warranted! One thing you, my fellow umpires and colleagues, must have picked up – I'm quite thorough in my descriptions and explanations. I don't want anyone to feel duped or blindsided in their purchase choices. You wouldn't be making a bad choice of either of those, @Tborze. The Champion P2xx is a very solid, protective piece of gear, and both of them – the Schutt/Adams and the Champion – are both tremendous values at their price points. Same could be said for the Champro, or the +POS, or the All-Star. And yes, the Douglas and the Force3 are a high price point, but at the end of the day – and this is applicable to all seven CP's I just listed out – do you want to be paying your money to a company that will progress and improve their gear, and invest in using new, modern materials, or, at the very least, try to keep production and employment here in North America? The alternative is paying for a CP that uses arcane design practices, outdated materials, produced overseas but priced so as to maintain a Big League (exclusive) license. Sounds appealing, doesn't it? But hey! The Big League guys wear it, so it must be alright... right? There are no longer any secrets to modifying the XV in this latest HDX variant. Schutt actually observed, addressed and progressed their product as it was in use in the market – they just never publicly acknowledged it, nor privately thanked guys like me and @Razzer who made modifications on their own, likely inspiring or motivating Schutt to make those improvements. To wit, there is no longer a need to remove the default Y-yoke harness and install D-ring anchors and rigger straps on the shoulder arch plates so as to use a Flex-style harness. It now has rather streamlined bicep guards (if you're into that kind of thing), and also continues to include and allow the attachment of an abdomen extension. To really achieve a close fit, I would recommend busting out the hairdryer and heating up the shoulder arch plates and chest plate and heat-shaping them.
  9. @Scott K, you should have plugged that you were coming to us Live from the Ump-Attire Dot Com Staff Kitchen. It would have been a hoot to see @JimKirk on a cameo, trying to use the sink after shoe cleaning, or list Jim (or Mrs Kirk), besides Mom, as who should not be finding a soiled sink after a cleaning session. It’s Pedag Cream? How does it compare to Kiwi? Is there something particular to it that is beneficial to these latest NB plate shoes?
  10. Two Positioning Q’s (rhetorical maybe)

    Funny how you chose Softball (Fed, ta boot) as the context, because, like 46/60 LL’ish baseball (no leads / steals until ball crosses plate), BU usually has his/her IP on the outside. Touché. Well, I’ll play... 1) Because it is pressing the foul line, PU has to take Fair/Foul, and as such, Catch/No Catch. A good BU should recognize this as the ball is in flight, and should dash in to the Working Area so as to best line up the catch, R2 tagging up, then moving on towards 3B so as to observe a throw/play at 3B. 2) BU’s IP should be “B Beyond” or “B outside”, so with the pitch going to the backstop, BU should be preparing for a possible throw to 2B and R1 arriving. Once R1 touches 2B, BU should cross the 1B-2B baseline, chest to ball, and read-and-react how F2 is going to throw and whether or not R1 commits to 3B. If R1 indeed commits to 3B, BU should not try to parallel-run with R1, but instead angle through the working area so as to maintain best angle for judgement on play at 3B. PU has to stay put and take the ball.
  11. MadMax/Schutt XV retrofit

    Uhmmm... what? If I remember right, the Spartans of the movie 300 were "armored" like this: Yeah, those are some impressive... CPs. The point is, that the Schutt XV, the Champro Pro Plus, the Champion P2xx, the Force3 UnEqual, and even the +POS Cobra can all be considered "low profile" because they are using advanced, modern foams and are drastically reducing weight and bulk. The System 7 could be considered in this discussion as well, because every segmented plate is pre-contoured and engineered to fit in a conformed manner. I am probably the standard bearer for the Schutt XV, and its biggest cheerleader. I use no other CP (besides trying a few others and servicing / repairing just about every CP ever made), and you'll find me work plate games for MiLB Spring Training, college -level, Independent league, High School varsity (and upper echelon programs, at that), 18U Academy / Travel ball, and Adult -league (MSBL, NABA, et. al.). I've faced off against 95+ mph. What CP I'm wearing is the least of my concerns. I say this kindly, but bluntly – you know nothing by which to judge this, or any CP, against and claim it's not suitable for "college n up". Yeah, the old default harness was garbage, but anyone who claims that the XV is incapable of treading into the same environments that the "trusted" WestVests go has been duped by the marketing machine, and subscribed to a pack of lies. It is more than capable at all levels of baseball. The only reasons why people perceive it not to be is because it's half the bulk of WestVests, and it doesn't carry a big gold W.
  12. The FM25 is a bit short at the bottom because it’s intended for catchers, most who won’t even mount a dangling throat guard, and who also routinely drop their chin on a pitch. It’s a good mask, but it’s not an umpire’s mask. But you’re playing with house money because you got it on trade. So, what I would do is get a primary mask, outfitted the best to what you can with your budget. Once you have it, then send off the FM25. Due to his workload, Tony cannot guarantee the return date, and you do not want to miss opportunities because you don’t have a mask. Carrying four is (admittedly) excessive – but umpires should carry two masks. Oh, and some of us are brand-nuts, but brand of ball bag is pretty meaningless. Just don’t wear two different colors of ball bag.
  13. New Mizuno mask

    Yes, it’s a foregone conclusion a dangling throat guard is attached to a chinless mask like this. Mizuno offers several models as chinless, ready for umpires. Several umpires (butchers) take (perfectly good) masks and chop the chin guard off (how cruel!) so as to cleanly attach a dangling throat guard. The reason? Most masks are made for catchers, and most high-level catchers abhor wearing throat guards. Instead, they rely upon the extended chin guard and are disciplined to drop their chin (younger than 15 year olds can’t be expected to). As such, the rake (forward curve) on high-level mask chin guards is nearly straight down (an original Nike Icon Titanium is), and makes the mounting of conventional dangling throat guards problematic. You’ll notice that the Diamond iX3 family of masks address this disparity – the for-catcher iX3 has big, square ear guards and a rounded chin guard; by contrast, the for-Umpire iX3 (AKA the UMP) has an extended crown guard, tapered ear guards, and a chisel, square chin guard. Notice that this Diamond chin guard encourages umpires to mount the throat guard on the very bottom of the chin guard (not ideal). Mizuno is one of those few companies that do have umpires in mind.
  14. New Mizuno mask

    Did a game between the Brewers (AA) and Team Taiwan the other day... and of course I start hob-knobbing with the bullpen catcher. There were four other catchers in the dugout / bullpen, with one wearing a Mizuno Samurai HSM, and the rest using Mizuno Titaniums: Bite-the-back-of-your-hand gorgeous. The bullpen catcher, though, was wearing one of these: ... except his was with sky blue / grey pads. I tried both out, but then we got to talking about the mask you're pointing out, this one: and the guys (the bullpen staff) were remarking that it's for a type of baseball (popular in Asia?) where they used a rubber-coated ball, much more like a lacrosse ball than a traditional baseball. Notice that the eyeport is narrower / shorter than the for-baseball typical mask, and the cheek spaces are barred off... is this rubber ball slightly smaller?
  15. Ebay finds

    Today's Browsing through eBay found a Wilson Gold CP in very good condition: https://www.ebay.com/p/Wilson-WTA3210-Pro-Gold-Umpire-Chest-Protector-Black-Medium-large/1119110989?iid=292476340967&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIM.MBE%26ao%3D2%26asc%3D50074%26meid%3D0daec0fe7f364702b60d8b6d0e85a3d7%26pid%3D100005%26rk%3D5%26rkt%3D6%26sd%3D282874635516%26itm%3D292476340967&_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851 It's a L/XL And I've always said, a Wilson Gold CP (like its Platinum sibling) is a good CP, and if you find one in good shape, use it. Just don't buy a brand new one at the exorbitant, wallet-gouging retail price.
  16. Austin Hedges' Force3 HSM

    Dammit, @BT_Blue, I read your post too late... My fellow Vulture just reported back last night – he was asked in to do a simulated game for Padres pitchers. When we're PU for these games here in Phoenix, we outfit ourselves with 2 ball bags (at least! I've been tempted to get a third!) so as to carry multiple ball types – Major, Minor or Foreign (I was PU for a game versus the Korean Nat'l team, for example). As they're prepping for the game, the ball tote (singular) is carried in and dropped at the backstop – all Big Leaguers, baby. Wide-eyed, my fellow Vulture fills his ball bags and heads to the plate, whereupon the first catcher hoists off his mask and introduces himself – Austin Hedges. Unfortunately, he doesn't remember the particulars of the mask he had (only one guy in the Vulture group needs to be the tech-nerd). Annnnnd Play! PS - Oh, and on that note, by being PU on these games, we are getting the chance to see (and try out!) some really top-notch masks. I held a FM4000MAG in my hands (it's like it's not even there!... but look at that Jay Leno chin!) and tried on several Mizuno masks that you just can't get here in the States, including a Mizuno Titanium. Yes, I'm gobsmacked-in-love.
  17. F3 shins sizing for a short guy (5'11")

    Dave, you’re going to be my guinea pig... reading your post here, and your reason for wearing your shinguards what I call “cricket style”, is making me think up a way of supplementing the Force3 Ultimate shinguards with thigh pads. I kept looking at the latest Schutt XV-HDX CP with its new, fancy-shmancy bicep guards, wondering wherever I would use those. ... and now I just figured it out. Those bicep guards are D3O-lined, and if I can figure out a connector method, I might be able to attach them to a set of Ultimates to protect your thighs, especially above the knee. Oh, and @wolfe_man? My gut reaction is, if you’re using the mid-cut, taller NB plate shoes, you could get by with the shorter shinguards. That’s my opinion. However, the other rationale – that the additional length will over-protect the ankle area – is equally valid. I measure as a 17” in shins, and wear 16.5” Ultimates.
  18. Pardon me, @wolfe_man, but you knew I was hovering around, waiting to descend and comment upon a topic like this (tech-speak carpet bomb it, yo!)... Yes, at one time, the Wilson WTA3007 and the Nike Icon in Steel looked eerily the same. Of course, the Icon was famously commissioned by and for Jorge Posada, and was executed in Titanium. That planform was further executed in Steel, and set the standard for all other single-wire masks. Because steel corrodes, though, it needs to be painted; because paint doesn’t molecularly bond to steel – such as it does with the powdercoat process – it merely clings to the surface and can be (and does get) knocked off easily by pitched or foul ball impacts... or when a catcher drops or flings his mask to the ground... or chucks it into the dugout bench in disgust... or drops his gear bag, with the mask in the bottom, onto the hard concrete, asphalt, or bus body. Powdercoating is a rather involved process, and does add some specific steps and cost to the overall process. Vinyl dipping, by contrast, is a barbaric, cheap-as-hell process and something that the sports equipment industry has relied upon for decades. When you burn away vinyl dip from masks, I equate it to burning / washing away past sins. Silvers and greys really came into their own as the novelty factor of the Nike Icon Titanium seeped into baseball. You can’t dip that metallic finish. Soon, Wilson was rolling out their own version of a titanium mask (to partner up with the WestVest Platinum), as were All-Star and Rawlings. And, any time there are premium masks at $200+, the cheaper steel lookalikes and knockoffs are not far behind. As far as the pads go, @The1yankee, pad technology hasn’t changed much in the last 100-or-so years (it really needs to). Sure, in the past 10-15 years, with the advent of microfibers – which can wick sweat away, resist abrasion, and can mitigate bacterial infestations – we’ve seen a challenger to leather, but there are still those who prefer (or tolerate more) the feel of leather on their face. Bi-color pads were introduced to showcase that the segment touching your face was, in fact, real leather and not the cheap, pathetic vinyl that companies would utilize to save costs. Indeed, for some time, tan was a color that vinyl just could not properly replicate (it looked really plastic-y, fake, and would lack the variation that organic leather naturally has). Because real leather pads involve organic leather, there is another organic material in the pads, acting as wadding or a shape layer – wool. Wool is a truly remarkable material, for it serves other purposes in the pad, but it does add a degree of energy absorption above which just raw foam provides. It does, however, add weight and bulk – which aren’t bad for a mask that needs to protect against a 95mph projectile striking it, but not the expected heft that a $200 mask is. Wilson identified that leather pads, with their imprecise shapes and propensity to shrink, would often leave parts of the mask exposed and potentially able to contact the wearer’s face during an impact. For this reason, they developed the Wraparound line of pads, wherein the mask bars are encased in leather, thus lessening the blunt, localized impact of steel-upon-tissue. So, there are vinyl pads, and leather pads, and microfiber pads, all using a foam core, encased in a liner jacket of wool or visquine or a synthetic liner of some such... ... and then there are Team Wendy’s. Team Wendy’s is a company built around one purpose – to reduce or eliminate Traumatic Brain Injuries. To that end, they developed a highly advanced (now patented) type of memory foam called Zorbium. It is exceptionally dense, with a slow crush speed and slow rebound speed. Because of their focus on headgear, Team Wendy’s has limited time, attention and resources to mask pads (and, unfortunately, to chest protectors) and can only offer them in black or tan. Perhaps the only flaw or shortcoming with Team Wendy’s pads is, oddly enough, in regards to climate – when the ambient temperature is on the chilly side, the pads can get rock hard. This tendency also materializes after prolonged use and the salt – from your sweat – crystallizes within/upon the foam. Laundering the pads (use a soap or tech wash, please!) helps resolve both problems. Back in Wisconsin, I would keep my mask indoors instead of in my gear bag until just before travel time, or would even go so far as to microwave the pads (off the frame!) prior to travel time if the game day temperature was... brisk. This isn’t to say that the other synthetic pads on the market are crap. Unlike TW’s, though, they have to achieve equitable energy absorption by volume (thickness). All-Star, +POS, and Easton (among others) make synthetic pads that are not only light, but provide excellent stand-off distance, and in a variety of colors. I use All-Star LUC pads on my Navy-rigged mask, while I’ve supplied +POS “AirFoam” pads to several umpire colleagues here in the Phoenix Valley (and I actually like these guys, so I’m not going to give/sell them garbage). I’ve also used the synthetic pads from Easton on their Speed Elite (one of the best masks no one’s ever heard about), and they work quite well. Microfiber pads get a bad rap because, for catchers, they get trashed after being tossed on the ground. An umpire’s mask should never touch the ground (so shame on you bozos who toss your mask on the ground so as to conduct the plate meeting)! Also, some cheaper microfiber pads catch face stubble (ouch!). I will never pooh-pooh an umpire for preferring leather over microfiber or vice versa, but my role is to simply explain and inform, and kick ignorance’s ass when it appears.
  19. All-Star FM 25mlx mask with bent bar

    Here’s an idea for you, @The1yankee... Get a new harness for that mask. Get another set of pads, if you wish, but you’re under no urgency to do so, as those stock All-Star LUCs will do just fine. Use the mask on paid games until you can purchase another mask that will be your primary gamer-workhorse. Then send that FM25 off to Tony to get fixed and powdercoated. Tony will of course fix it. The part you bent is called the wicket (the other, on the upper, is the bullring). Tony has fixed no less than 6 of mine (my colleagues and I are doing 300-400 games per year). He’ll also powdercoat it for you, and on a FM25, not only will it end up looking hella-thin, but the sky’s the limit on color. May I suggest a color that would allow you to do navy games or black games? Maybe a silver, or liquid gunmetal? You can put black pads in it, or tan pads, or swap in navy pads if/when games are conducted with navy shirts (which, east of the Mississippi are far too often). Yeah, your primary gamer is rigged for games in black trim, and you use it 90% of the time, but once in a while, you’ll get that game where your partner has nothing but Navy, or the kids are known terrors and you don’t want to bend your primary gamer.
  20. All star system 7 mask v Wilson alum dyna-lite

    That’s not necessarily the case, @The1yankee. Some Wilson masks have “visibility issues” because A) Wilson DynaLites (Steel, AKA the Cro-Moly) are vinyl dipped, thickening the already hefty bars, B) other than their Memory Foam pads, Wilson uses a lot of leather pads. And, while they use rather nice leather, they make them like sausage casings, instead of the precision cut shapes All-Star uses. This makes for a bulbous shape when fitted to a mask, and C) this is especially true of the Wilson wraparound pads. The “face portal” is the same, it just looks smaller and more confined because those wraparounds are a-lotta pad! Best example is @umpstu‘s Wilson Titanium, using stock leathers versus wraparounds. It’s the same titanium wireframe mask, but why does the wraparound one look so heavy, clunky, and... odd? Hmmmmm... The +POS and Honig’s K-4 frames really are the best value for your dollar, primarily because they are sold as frames alone. The Honig’s is a real Everyman’s mask, with its generous sizing, discreet crown guard, oversized ear guards and short, forward -raked, square chin guard allowing you to learn, train, and be safe while making mistakes. The ZRO-G evokes the iconic Nike, but the forward -raked chin guard allows a dangling throat guard (which new umpires should consider using) and the cost – $40 – allows you to take it into places where you fear to stand with a Nike out of concern of getting it bent (see this?! This is why we can’t have nice things!!). Diamond used to offer their market-smashing iX3 aluminum as a frame alone. Ump-Attire even carried it! Now that was a great value! We could get an aluminum frame, with all their nifty safety features, and then get the pads and harness of our own choosing, for approximately $95. Wilson trotting out their version of an aluminum mask squashed that idea, because there’s more profit for them in a mask bundle, equipped with two-bit pads and a pathetic harness. The Nike isn’t for everybody. Remember, its origins lay with a catcher – a HoF (to be) catcher at that – who hated dangling throat guards and knew better than to turn his head. The Adidas/Reebok versions are using the same planform – we’ve confirmed as much – but there must not be anywhere the Quality Controls in place on these latest orders. That, and I think that these latest versions are using Titanal instead of Titanium.
  21. MadMax/Schutt XV retrofit

    Just buy a new HDX, and we’ll swap carapaces. Separate the pad jackets, you keep and use the new padding, and I use my existing padding in the new carapace. That or I’m sure there will be “old” stock, unaltered XV’s out there, eager to get moved now that the “proper” model is out on the market.
  22. Quick fit question

    It's waaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy too low'n'loose on you. Way too. Way. Too. (Made my point?) This isn't a Tummy Protector, It's a Chest Protector! The billow – the padding "collar" in blue – is supposed to be at or just beneath your Adam's Apple. Hike it up, soldier! As soon as you push it up, you're going to realize the two problems with brand new, conventional, segmented hardshell CP's – the harnesses suck, and don't hold the CP snugly enough to you, and the shoulder arch plates are not conformed or pre-shaped. They're flat. The only CP's that are pre-shaped are the All-Star System 7, the Champro Pro Plus, and the Champion P2xx. All the rest get... well... flattened out (the Wilson Platinum especially!!!). As the rest of the guys here know, even my vaunted Schutt XV (and the AiR Flex prior to it) needed to be shaped and contoured to fit me properly. So, bust out the heat gun (unless you are able to put your new CP in the back of your car during a 110º+ day, like we are here in Arizona!). I use an "industrial" paint stripping gun, but even a hair blow dryer will work. For this first time, if you can remove the padding jacket, do so. Once you do this the first time, follow-on shapings can be done with the jacket back in. You might want to get a rag, and place it upon the arch plate so you don't blister or dull the finish on the plastic. Apply heat. Once you feel it become somewhat pliable, you'll want to bend it, longitudinally (from front to back) as if it was bending over your shoulder. Don't pinch it or try to fold it, but instead curve it. Apply heat repeatedly until you get the desired form. Once you do this, take another rag, soak it in cold water, wring it out, then apply this cold rag to the formed plastic plate. This may take an afternoon. The desired outcome is a CP that fits you like, well, a glove instead of hanging on you like a shop apron.
  23. MadMax/Schutt XV retrofit

    My housemate, fellow umpire, and good friend is having an endless laugh over this. We keep looking at this latest XV-HDX, and the use of side-buckles instead of T-hooks (which I've modified a few Honigs K-1's and other CPs to use instead of T-hooks and velcro), and the mounting method of the rigger straps, and the general shape of the new harness... ... and I can't figure out why they used "HD-" instead of "MA-". Oh, why he's laughing? It's now his last name – Adams. "I git no respect" - Rodney Dangerfield.
  24. Mizuno Shovel *idea*

    @HCueds, @kylehutson, @tpatience (and the rest of you guys)... Here's what's not adding up – Why are we doing a 3D printing of a Mizuno Shovel? If you're saying, "Because they're so rare!", then we need to go one step further, and ask why they're so rare. "Because Mizuno doesn't sell them here in the States!" Okay, and why doesn't Mizuno sell them in the States? Because the Wilsons, Eastons, Rawlings, Champros and Diamonds of the industry have made it financially unbearable to market it here in the States!!! The unique "wow" factor of the Shovel is utterly lost amidst an endless sea of cheap, run of the mill, "shoehorn" throat guards! The purpose of a 3D printer is to prototype a product – to make a tangible product you can put in your hands and physically make the virtual idea a near reality. Sure, the automated technology can be put to a myriad of different purposes in the production process, and can do what @wolfe_man describes. The reason 3D printing is used for firearms, as Wolfe put forth as an example, is because the tolerances and variances can be much more precisely controlled when you 3D "print" instead of breaking the model down into components, molding and die-casting those components, and then assembling the components into the finished product. On a firearm that experiences the kind of uses and stresses that a product like that does, and fetches a price tag of $400 and up (keep going), it makes complete sense. On a single-component piece of shaped plastic that hangs off a mask, and you can get from a store for $4? Not worth it. Now, I'm not trying to rain on your parade. I'm all for having some novelty and craftsmanship in our gear, some "wow" factor. So, if we hold the Mizuno Shovel to such a high regard, why not identify what makes it "so cool", make a virtual model of it, adjust it and modify it to make it even better, then have it produced "locally" (here in the States) in a production run?
  25. All star system 7 mask v Wilson alum dyna-lite

    I carry four masks in my arsenal – 2 +POS ZRO-G's, a Honig's K-4, and an All-Star FM4000. The FM4000 is a very tough, very strong mask, but this very progressive geometry does not make for a typical, expected mask shape (and I mean that in all three dimensions). Keep in mind that All-Star is a catcher's company, first and foremost, and the FM4000 was designed for catchers primarily (not solely, but still). Some things that will jump out to you are that the mask is fairly shallow, and doesn't allow a hat to be worn, brim-forward (as it better be should for an umpire), with anything more than a 4-stitch. The included pads – All-Star LUC "AirFoam" pads – are good, but the forehead pad is a bit on the small side, simply because the mask is intended to be worn with a reverse batting helmet (the so-called "skullcap"). Also, there isn't room to mount a sun visor (unless your name is @Thunderheads ). The chin guard (what most colloquially call the "extended throat guard") is rather small as well, and that's because the majority of catchers are taught to drop their chin to receive / block a low pitch. What are we taught as umpires? Yup, to keep our head still, chin out. Now, with the shortness and forward rake of the chin guard on the FM4000, it's rather easy to mount a dangling throat guard, certainly. On that note, pay attention to how All-Star is guiding us as to where to properly mount a dangling throat guard; yes, it's supposed to attach to the bottom bar of the main mask body, behind the chin guard. No, it's not supposed to hang off the very bottom of the chin guard itself (way to be, Diamond you idiots). As you point out, it is a hollow steel mask, and uses I-bar construction on its horizontal components. This is to promote visibility without compromising strength. All-Star really over-engineered this thing. The only aspect that it comes up short on in quality is the paint – All-Star just can't do a real powdercoat process on these masks, due to the cost, so it's just a simple painting process they apply, and it does wear off rather quickly. Most (amateur) catchers don't really care, but if you're particular about the appearance of your gear, you will. You'll see the FM4000 out and about in the Major Leagues a lot this season, as All-Star used its planform for their elite-level mask, the FM4000MAG. Yes, the "MAG" stands for Magnesium, and the mask is a weld-less, die-cast Magnesium alloy. Eat your heart out, titanium. Here's your lunch, aluminum. That's not to say that Aluminum masks are bad masks – they're not. They're quite good, as long as the welds don't pop... ... oh. Ohhhhh... Yeah, that's been happening to Wilson Aluminum DynaLites. Because aluminum doesn't bend, all that resonant energy has to go someplace, and the welds are the first things to fail, especially if they're just stamped out, pell-mell, by some factory in China. When I pay $40 for a mask frame, whether it be aluminum or hollow steel, and then buy $40 pads (Team Wendys), a $12 harness, and a $10 sun visor, and my mask bends, am I going to be all that upset about it? Nah, not really... it's a $40 mask frame, it did its job. However, when I pay $110 for an aluminum mask – which is comprised of a (overpriced, overhyped) harness at $15, "Memory Foam" pads at $28, leaving the frame to be ... $67??!!) – which is not supposed to bend, and the welds pop... do you think I'm going to be upset?