I'm thinking of getting one but pricing and opinions are hugely variable.
I'm more than happy with my current F3v2 mask as my daily driver, so to speak, but I'm still concerned about broken bats and other flying objects that could hit me in the side of the head, so I've been contemplating biting the bullet and grabbing a HSM to use in higher-level wood bat leagues.
So far the ones in contention are (in order of preference) the F3v2 Defender HSM, the All-Star MVP4000, and the Wilson MLB Pro Stock.
From my perspective, the F3v2 still has the upper hand because of the springs and the extra bit of steel that extends over the forehead area, à la Gary Cederstrom's custom Wilson cage, not to mention it's over $100 cheaper than the All-Star. I'm not terribly concerned about more weight from the HSM as I didn't find the extra weight much of an issue when I switched from my +POS Zero-G to the F3v2 so I suspect I'll be fine going to the heavier HSM-style anyway.
Anyone have experience with any of these masks? Things I should know that I might have missed or might not have thought about?
In viewing clips of pitches and hits on mlb.tv, I have noticed a trend – MLB umpires are opting to a wider variety of masks rather than the default, formerly supplied Wilson DynaLite. We’re still seeing guys use the Wilson DynAlum and the occasional Wilson Titanium (Way Too) Low Profile, and there are those still relying on their Nike Icon Titaniums, but we’re also seeing increased numbers of Mizunos, Force3 Defenders, and All-Star FM4000MAGs.
I’m sincerely wondering when that “paradigm shift” or “break point” is going to occur, when it is open season on branding gear with attributed logos instead of hiding, obscuring, or flat-out lying so as to appease a company that lethargically refuses to progressively protect their “sponsored” representatives. Because a knocked-off mask is viewed as a “failed mask”, MLB umpires – wearing Wilson -marked masks especially – are directed to wear their masks far too tight. Well, coincidentally, this plays right into Force3’s strengths, as the reactive spring suspension functions best when the mask is worn snugly. It’s just a shame that Force3 doesn’t receive due credit!
I'm looking for the shoulder paldrons for the Force3 chest protector or something else along those lines. I was inspired to try and put together my own chest protector, like the one pictured below, by a minor league umpire and Facebook friend.
If no one has any they want to part with. Do you know if you can get "replacement" chest protector parts or ones that are not sellable on a full piece from Force3?