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Letter to a Fellow Umpire Regarding CP's

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I recently replied to a message from a fellow umpire here on U-E regarding chest protector opinions. As I re-read it, what a I divulge is applicable to a great number of chest protector questions we the membership here get. His question was in regard to a Douglas, specifically, but I can express technical opinions about any of the CP's on the market. So, let me share this here with you...

Quote

Colleague,

First and foremost, and not to confound you, if you were to take the big gold W off of the actual, physical WestVest Gold and WestVest Platinum, and either one was placed on the table before you, and you weren't told anything about it – what it's made of, how it's made, its cost, etc. – and then, after examining it, did one game while wearing it, you'd be left with a rather reasonable impression of it. It certainly is protective, at least at the chest and shoulders, but you'd be left wondering if it is tall enough (covers enough of the lower ribs and abdomen). It doesn't do a bad job of conforming to you, but the harness is pretty pathetic and the plates rather springy making a contoured fit a bit of a challenge. The padding, again, is protective but does it have to be so bulky? And, why are you sweating so profusely in it, and feel sweltered? Surely they could have put heat channels or used hole-ier foam padding than this!
"Pssst... that CP you're trying on? It's 10 years old."
What? It's ten years old you say? That explains it. Technology has changed alot since then! I wonder what improvements they've made! Where's the new one?
"That is the new one."
You just said that it was ten years old.
"It is."
How can it be ten years old?
"They haven't changed the design in ten years. Haven't touched it."
Ah, so this must be a bargain then... how much?
shows price
Oh my freakin' good grief! Over $200?! For this?! Wait, is this Kevlar in this?!
"Nope. Sofa cushion foam... "

And there is my entire point.

In fact, one of the best CP's out there, until Team Wendy discontinued their retrofitting service, was any of the "Big Four" CP's – The Wilson WestVest Gold, Wilson WestVest Platinum, Douglas, or Riddell Power – with their existing padding stripped out and replaced with Team Wendy Zorbium padding. The Zorbium is that good.

If you look carefully at the various CP's side by side, too, you begin to see why I hold Wilson in such contempt. The WestVest Gold looks remarkably like the Riddell Power. The original WestVest was, in fact, produced by Douglas... until Wilson "acquired" it. Today's Douglas is their modern rendition of that original WestVest. So, with that said...

The Douglas is shockingly small and compact. You wonder what you're buying at $185 until you realize that it is made in the USA, and it is made with much more focused care and quality. All the ABS plastic plates are dense and pre-curved. Now, Douglas does use what would otherwise be considered sofa cushion foam, but at least they call a spade a spade, and name it as Qualux: http://www.intelligentfoam.com/products.php . The way the Douglas is styled, though, is to be as conforming and minimal as possible.

My opinion would be, for umpires of athletic or slim builds who use a stance / position that minimizes abdomen exposure (usually, amateur umpires need more abdomen coverage because the catchers at the more youthful levels are smaller or less talented, and the pitches are more wild), the Douglas is a top-notch CP, and is even less bulky than the WestVests. But, what will beat it, in performance? Itself, with a TW Zorbium retrofit. And, a Douglas will absolutely benefit from getting a Flex-style harness added to it (such as an UmpLife RayFlex, a Force3 Flex, or an All-Star DeltaFlex). 

If you want the greatest amount of coverage and protection in the least bulky unit, I would actually recommend an All-Star System 7. The jury is still out on the Force3 UnEqual as to if its able to withstand velocities of 90+ without pain. I myself use a Schutt XV and I love it. I emphatically believe that the TPU-EVA foam it uses is cutting edge stuff, and I'd be willing to face down 90+ with it (I have at least twice). It's exceptionally well ventilated, and ideal for my work in Arizona. Thing is, if you were to hand me any current hardshell CP and tell me I have a game to dress for in 15 minutes, I'd be fine and confident in anything (except a Davishield... do NOT wear one... ever). I wouldn't be opposed to a WestVest at all... but there's no way I would ever buy one and feed the lazy slugs that run Wilson.

I present to you this rhetorical question: why are we as an umpire community clinging to antiquated technology and practices when modern, cutting-edge opportunities are not even being fully considered or realized yet? Or, better yet, why are we accepting this sloth and sluggishness from the gear producers themselves??!

I hold Team Wendy in lofty regard because they actually established and progressed their own technology – Zorbium – for one ambitious goal: to mitigate, reduce and hopefully eliminate TBI's. The reason they pulled the plug on CP retrofits wasn't because TW is a money-grubbing company that saw no profit in it, or that Zorbium itself is a poor product. It simply is, that when the US military drops a massive product request on you, with an ironclad contract, you put everything else aside and go all-hands-on-deck.

We really need to start examining the direction that our protection needs and solutions will go instead of settling for the "traditional" and "status quo".

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So, what we need is a company to fill the vaccum that TW left behind with cancelling their own chest protector retrofit program.

So that begs the question... who will step forward? It will probably be a small compay or even just a person or two that decides they can provide the service. Ray from UmpLife, I know, has been messing with ideas. But we all have kept him nice and buried providing some of the best accessories on the market.

So we wait for the next best thing. When ever that comes.

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The trouble is, of course, that we're such a small market that it doesn't make $en$e to develop an umpire only product. Team Wendy didn't make money on the retros, and that's why they dumped them. Pretty simple. I'd also worry about them dropping mask pads in the future, too. Their market is making helmets for the DoD.

 

TW put a lot of R&D work into their padding. I doubt anyone else out there could pony up the same amount of effort, just for a chest protector for umpires.

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On 11/18/2016 at 4:00 AM, BT_Blue said:

So, what we need is a company to fill the vaccum that TW left behind with cancelling their own chest protector retrofit program.

So that begs the question... who will step forward? It will probably be a small compay or even just a person or two that decides they can provide the service. Ray from UmpLife, I know, has been messing with ideas. But we all have kept him nice and buried providing some of the best accessories on the market.

So we wait for the next best thing. When ever that comes.

It is true..I am working with a few MFG's who make sports equipment for a variety of sports to bring a so-called retro fit pad for most of the cp's.

This takes time and yes my money to sample and test. Right now I do not know if it is a viable solution or a viable problem.

Not giving up on this but it takes time to get it right. Low Profile is great because the new foams and plastics ...it also makes it expensive if you are just making to order.

 

The journey will continue until I figure it out

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3 hours ago, Razzer said:

It is true..I am working with a few MFG's who make sports equipment for a variety of sports to bring a so-called retro fit pad for most of the cp's.

This takes time and yes my money to sample and test. Right now I do not know if it is a viable solution or a viable problem.

Not giving up on this but it takes time to get it right. Low Profile is great because the new foams and plastics ...it also makes it expensive if you are just making to order.

 

The journey will continue until I figure it out

Wasn't sure you were still on here. Glad that you are. Is Bob on here as well?

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This thread makes me glad I took my West Vest Gold of 12 years and got the Team Wendy Retro fit plus adding Ray's Umplife Harness. Seems like I got a good mix of the old and the new. I have never been injured in my WVG, even with the old foam and harness so I found a product that I liked and works for me. You don't always need a new girl. Sometimes you can just dress the old battle axe up.

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Here is my take on a few I CP's I have used and what could be better

W WV Gold

Great product although bulky and protective

Plastics could be more flexible without losing integrity

Foams work but could add a layer of newer foams

Douglas

Great product with pre curves that can still be molded

Shoulder gap is the main issue I have with this unit..when being made this should be included.

Padding is great and is a breeze to keep clean.

I was rocked very hard on the collar a few years ago wearing my Douglas, it hurt but no breaks, I added shin pad knee parts to the collar and it is now bullet proof.

Force 3 V1

I really like the comfort of this product and it is now my cp I use most of the time. Been hit all over and it does what it says on the tin. 

The shock experience is different than wearing other plastic units but it does work.

I believe V2 now has a plastic blast shield sewn into the padding which you cannot see.

I would have put this blast shield on the outer skin myself just for looks, it might even help sell more products

All three work for me but they all could be upgraded

 

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How does your harness compare to the V2 harness? It seems like they're the 2 best on the market.

 

What about the V1 mask harness and yours?

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They all work I just use better elastic that has memory and will last years

4 MLB umpires used my harness in the WS and my folder was on show in Game 6

I also offer free customization Name Number Logo Quote 

$36.50 USD Delivered

To Oder any of my products please email me directly

rbumpire37@gmail.com

Ray

 

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I totally agree with your point about the F3v2. I wish the had put the blast shield on the outside. Would still be low profile. But would put those of us that are hesitant to purchase one.

Would love to know the reasoning behind Douglas never putting the shoulder gap protection on their CP. It seems most of us ha them do it for us. So why not do that from jump?

@Razzer, can you post a picture of the modification you made to your Douglas?

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On 11/20/2016 at 10:39 AM, udbrky said:

How does your harness compare to the V2 harness? It seems like they're the 2 best on the market.

 

What about the V1 mask harness and yours?

I have a feeling that if @Razzer and I were to collaborate, we'd be dangerous. Gear might actually improve by a magnitude of several-fold rather than these tiny incremental steps or otherwise stagnating (Wilson and the WestVest).

In regards to CP harnesses, the DeltaFlex isn't even part of the picture any more, unless you've got an All-Star CP, or you're a very slim, trim umpire using a Douglas CP. That being said, the ULFH has much longer straps (all elastic, too, by the way, instead of the DeltaFlex's two stretch-less upper straps and two elastic lower straps), and open-air interior and can even be personalized. May seem kinda vain, but it is kinda nifty when you've got 14-20 umpires in a locker room on tournament weekend and someone wonders who the owner of that mighty fine CP hangin' on the peg is... or who owns the CP that is sitting out on the common table taking up space where the pizza and subs are about to go.

The Force3 Flex harness is good, and is a quite a bargain at its price point. The elastic on the lower straps, though, is really funky and not very stretchy, and because the back (main) panel is smaller and narrower, the angle of the rigger straps (the upper ones) is more acute. Obviously, this is to match up to a Force3 UnEqual, but if you've got a wide CP, it may turn out kinda odd in how it lays. I've put Force3 Flex harnesses on three Wilsons, two Honigs K-1's and a Schutt AiR Flex (predecessor to the XV) and it does what all three Flex harnesses are supposed to do – dramatically improve the fit. The OEMs suck.

Now, @Razzer, what's this about you making a mask harness??? If you do make one... you can already guess where I'm going with this. ;)

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I have made about 6 mask harnesses this past season to test.

Final version is the ones with colored logo...made with all elastic and no poly webbing.

It works great but not cost effective to make myself.

I have sent my specs to a manufacturer to have samples made using my elastic straps.

If it works out I will add this product because the price will be lower.

ul_mask_harness_pictures.png

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On ‎11‎/‎23‎/‎2016 at 9:54 AM, Razzer said:

I have made about 6 mask harnesses this past season to test.

Final version is the ones with colored logo...made with all elastic and no poly webbing.

It works great but not cost effective to make myself.

I have sent my specs to a manufacturer to have samples made using my elastic straps.

If it works out I will add this product because the price will be lower.

ul_mask_harness_pictures.png

I would guess that the harness you have shown here performs like an all star harness? It is designed to wear tight?

BTW - love the harness for my chest protector - wore it this fall and it is very comfortable and keeps my platinum in perfect position - Thanks man!

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Not designed to wear tight or lose

Every umpire has an opinion on that...I like it to fit with no slip and as long as it spins off when I get hit.

It is very easy to take and put your mask on too

 

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