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F3 in the MLB

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Anyone know of any MLB guys that were F3 chest protectors? I know there are a few MiLB wearing them, just not sure if  any have made it to the show. 

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Do you mean F2?

That seems crazy to me. Umpires see twice as many pitches and have no mitt between them and the ball.

Amateur umpires usually have a different job that pays, such that serious injuries put whole families' welfare at risk. I would never support any of our umpires using anything but a hard-shell CP.

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16 minutes ago, maven said:

Do you mean F2?

That seems crazy to me. Umpires see twice as many pitches and have no mitt between them and the ball.

Amateur umpires usually have a different job that pays, such that serious injuries put whole families' welfare at risk. I would never support any of our umpires using anything but a hard-shell CP.

I agree. I was looking into getting one and was just curious. I do college ball and was hesitant that it didn't provide enough protection. 

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Despite the over endorsement from supporters of the F3, I have not seen or heard of anything that convincing,  that would lead me to giving up the protection of my Platinum

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OH, right, F3-brand CP's. I don't know anything about that. I thought the OP had something to do with protectors used by the first baseman (or, if that was a typo, the catcher, F2).

Sorry, as this thread wasn't in the Equipment forum, I misunderstood. Carry on!

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I've got some very experienced college ball brothers that swear by that CP. I just can't imagine spending that much money for something that isn't a hard shell. Not only that, it just looks like it has to be VERY hot in the summer. 

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13 minutes ago, kstrunk said:

it just looks like it has to be VERY hot in the summer. 

I got a friend that says its much cooler because is breathable. That is one of the reason i'm interested in it. We have a Cal Ripken Complex that has turf, that i work in the summer, and I have been on the field with it well above 100 degrees. The turf gets so hot that it has melted a pair of my base shoes. 

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2 hours ago, maven said:

OH, right, F3-brand CP's. I don't know anything about that. I thought the OP had something to do with protectors used by the first baseman (or, if that was a typo, the catcher, F2).

Sorry, as this thread wasn't in the Equipment forum, I misunderstood. Carry on!

Your comment was still valid, even if it was by mistake. 

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32 minutes ago, BT_Blue said:

I'm more curious if any of the pro guys are wearing the Force3 shins?

I saw John Libka using them

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I have both the F3 v1 chest protector and the shins. Their shin guards are the best I have ever worn, by far!  The CP, I used it almost exclusively for the last 2 years, never had an issue. But, I am now putting my WV back in a rotation with it, using the hardshell a bit too. The CP is very low profile, you barely know you have it on, and it has a hard plate (kevlar like substance) surrounded by foam, so it in effect is sorta hard plated.

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2 hours ago, blue23ll said:

I have both the F3 v1 chest protector and the shins. Their shin guards are the best I have ever worn, by far!  The CP, I used it almost exclusively for the last 2 years, never had an issue. But, I am now putting my WV back in a rotation with it, using the hardshell a bit too. The CP is very low profile, you barely know you have it on, and it has a hard plate (kevlar like substance) surrounded by foam, so it in effect is sorta hard plated.

I need to clarify something you said (placed in bold by me).

The Force3 UnEqual is not a traditional hardshell CP. It lacks any of the external plastic carapace plate segments that define a hardshell CP. These carapace plates serve two purposes – structural & shape foundation, and force/energy distribution (not absorption; this is important later).

Hardshell CPs carry with them several shortcomings and problems that are tolerated when one considers the protective needs they provide. Bulk (volumetric size), weight, flexibility, dexterity, ventilation & breathability, and damage to other equipment (ie. shirts, jackets) when impacted are all factors that, rightfully so, take a back seat to the incredible speeds and forces at play in upper-echelon levels of baseball. That’s not to say that mid- or lower-level baseball isn’t just as perilous, but these environments have an additional factor affecting them and intensifying those noted factors – frequency. The MLB guys have the “luxury” of donning a CP for 41 games, as part of a 4-man crew (less running), in a monitored environment. They may get hit once a game, but the average is likely much less. Granted, the forces are like comparing a hammer to a piledriver, but far too often, manufacturers and users alike fixate on the one-blow piledriver and are surprised when all those factors contribute to failure when beset with a dozen “small” hammerblows.

So, that’s where softshell CPs come on the stage. Because they lack the external carapace plates, they reduce weight and bulk. Ventilation and breathability are drastically improved. Without hard surfaces, shirt damage (holes, tears, bruises, scuffs) is virtually eliminated. The shape is not dictated by the rigidity of carapace plates, thus can conform to your own shape and provide more localized protection, as well as reducing hinderance of (your own) movement. So too, because it conforms to your shape better, the CP itself is less likely to shift out of place or droop (and this is where a Flex-style harness makes all the difference).

Softshells, though, lack one key component – energy distribution. Sure, they’re comprised of the very same foam (or often better and more advanced than the Wilson CPs) performing energy absorption for the hardshell CPs, but they get overwhelmed by the localized application of force energy. A softball, because of its less density and greater surface area, doesn’t “pack as much of a punch” – it doesn’t carry and transfer as much force energy. A smaller, more dense baseball, transfers and applies that increased force energy to a more localized point of impact... if only we had something to distribute that energy laterally to be absorbed by other foam further out!

And that’s what a hardshell does.

Kevlar is actually not a plated, hard surface. It is a fabric, woven from strands of aramid synthetic fiber. It is far more likely to be found in textiles and cloths than in plates. It is so incredibly useful in “bulletproof” vests because of its tremendous tensile strength-to-weight ratio. It doesn’t deflect bullets, it actually catches them, elastically deforming to absorb all that energy and prevent hyper-localized failure and penetration. Thing is, though, as any LEO or soldier will tell you, in a purely-Kevlar vest, while the bullet may not enter your body, you do experience localized trauma (bruising, pain) from that tremendous amount of energy. Thus, most ballistic vests and jackets have – you guessed it – trauma plates in them to further distribute and dissipate that energy, laterally. But again, why not just use nothing but trauma plates? Because they’re heavy, bulky, cumbersome, don’t breathe, and don’t conform to differing body shapes or allow freedom of movement.

So what to do? Strike a balance between fixed, hard trauma plates, located in specific, crucial spots, and backed and reinforced by Kevlar.

Wow, I just described a Force3 UnEqual... Version 2.

Admittedly, Version 1 lacked the “trauma” or blast plates. The pure-Kevlar construction meant that all that superfluous “sofa cushion” foam, needed for absorption and stand-off distance between you and the carapace plates that would otherwise be there, could be done away with. This reduced bulk and increased breathability. The fit could be like a glove, and the need for additional shirts (bigger size) or replacement shirts (cut or torn by impact) was eliminated. However, when wading into the same treacherous waters as traditional hardshell CPs, those hyper-localized impacts were being felt (despite no baseball ever entering an umpire’s body!). Trauma would appear in the form of bruises and aches, which in a ballistic vest is a welcome concession to the alternative! As such, Force3 reworked the UnEqual design and introduced blast plates. These are plastic plates sandwiched beneath the neoprene outer skin, above the Kevlar sections, which themselves are backed by a membrane, sizing foam, and a wicking fabric.

Has the UnEqual Version 2 been perfected? No. It still has some revisions ahead of it. Is it a hardshell CP? No... but neither is it a softshell. It truly is a hybrid, an enigma, an evolutionary branch. Its cost scares a lot of potential users off of it, but that’s due to its advanced materials and Made-in-the-USA nature. It could stand to use thicker, but “holey-er” plates – thicker to provide greater force dissipation but holed to increase ventilation and reduce weight (see the Schutt-Adams XV).

Its single greatest challenge, though, isn’t a 95+ mph baseball. Force3 is a progressive, proactive entity that will constantly strive to improve. No, its greatest challenge is a television camera, peering in at a Major League home plate, showcasing a Big Yellow “W” at the collar of the guy calling Balls and Strikes. Everyone could benefit from that not being there anymore.

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