Jump to content
RC2004

Best Concussion Proof Mask

Recommended Posts

Well, I hate to be the guy that goes against the grain, but I had the Force 3 for several plate games, took 2 shots and did not find it to be any better than the titanium masks I normally use.  Granted, I've never had a concussion that I know of, but the force felt just as bad in the Force 3.

 

And, maybe it's because I normally wear either a Rawlings Ti, a Wilson Ti, an Adidas Ti or a Nike steel, I did notice the weight and could never get the Force 3 to feel "right" to me.

 

However, on the positive side, I did sell the Force 3 to @BravoUmp and he loves it.  I guess that's why they make so many different kinds of gear.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

on 2 separate occasions, you mention "it took a second to figure out what hit me"

You're umpiring a baseball game.  I'll go with ......IT WAS A BASEBALL that hit you.

:sarcasm:

 

You and your crazy theories.  You're some kind of wild man.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, catsbackr said:

Well, I hate to be the guy that goes against the grain, but I had the Force 3 for several plate games, took 2 shots and did not find it to be any better than the titanium masks I normally use.  Granted, I've never had a concussion that I know of, but the force felt just as bad in the Force 3.

 

And, maybe it's because I normally wear either a Rawlings Ti, a Wilson Ti, an Adidas Ti or a Nike steel, I did notice the weight and could never get the Force 3 to feel "right" to me.

 

However, on the positive side, I did sell the Force 3 to @BravoUmp and he loves it.  I guess that's why they make so many different kinds of gear.

Force 3 is an outstanding mask and provides great protection.  When hit while wearing V2, it was more startling because I knew I had been hit,  but the force was distributed or stopped because it was nowhere near other masks.  What bugged me is now matter how many times I adjusted the harness I could not get it to stop pulling the bill of my cap down. I have like an 18.5" neck so the weight wasn't noticeable until I would hold it in my hand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, umpstu said:

Force 3 is an outstanding mask and provides great protection.  When hit while wearing V2, it was more startling because I knew I had been hit,  but the force was distributed or stopped because it was nowhere near other masks.  What bugged me is now matter how many times I adjusted the harness I could not get it to stop pulling the bill of my cap down. I have like an 18.5" neck so the weight wasn't noticeable until I would hold it in my hand.

Buy a harness from @Razzer. The umplife harness has fixed the mask pulling my mask down

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, catsbackr said:

I did notice the weight and could never get the Force3 to feel "right" to me.

And that, @catsbackr, is why there is such variety in the MLB.

In Minor League Baseball, the umpires are (still) responsible for their own gear. The Diamond iX3 Aluminum became so popular because it was the best of all worlds: 

  • Aluminum: much lighter weight when compared against steel masks
  • Aluminum: won't bend, which means the mask "always" looks good... which is crucial to Minor League umpires (impression and presentation)
  • Extended Crown Guard: nifty safety feature
  • Chisel chin guard: a dangling throat guard could be attached in a number of different ways, if needed
  • Diamond: An "off"-brand, which meant that it didn't fetch a premium price; during its heyday (prior to the Wilson DynAlum), it was approximately $65

It got so popular, it compelled Wilson to pursue development of their own aluminum mask. There was concern – legitimate concern – that the iX3 was going to find its way into a (televised) MLB game (indeed, Gerry Davis has used one before). As it was, the MLB guys had their "pick of the litter" to choose from, with many choosing Titaniums (Nike Icons and Wilsons) for their exceptional lightweight-ness. Major League guys don't want a lot of weight hanging off their face. Why should they? But Titanium has a single flaw – when struck with a significant force, it will bend. However, unlike steel which can be hammered or pressed back out by aggregate (meaning by a repeated accumulation of blows), titanium can only be bent or pressed back out by an opposite force of the same magnitude that caused the bend in the first place! Most don't want to put that kind of effort into repairing a mask, but when that masks costs $250 (or more), something should be done about it, no?

Wilson was losing money on every Wilson Titanium that got hit, bent, and returned for replacement. Thus, the success that Diamond was enjoying with their iX3 appealed to Wilson, and they produced their Dynalite planform in the aluminum model we see now. Priced at approximately $115-$125, it was a smashing success, since it was just as light as titanium, half the cost, and wouldn't bend! Of course, a rising tide lifts all ships, and Diamond benefited by Wilson's success, pushing the price on the iX3 from $65 to $85-$95.

After a full year with the Titanium model off the market, Wilson once again re-introduced it in the same planform as the DynAlum. Positioned for high-end umpires (MLB, MiLB, College, etc.), but now bolstered by the DynAlum at the lower price point (and lower production cost), the DynaLite Titanium II is a very good mask, on par with the Nike (Icon) Titanium.

The path that the All-Star FM4000Mag has taken to be used by Major League Umpires is eerily similar to the Nike "Icon" Titanium. The Icon originates with Jorge Posada, who drove its design to be strong, lightweight, afford great vision, and have a rake-less extended chin guard that would replace a dangling throat guard. It was a runaway hit, and has been in use, unaltered, for 20-plus years! Of course, Umpires caught onto it, and favored it for the very same reasons the professional catchers did – the lightweight-ness and outstanding sightlines. In the past 10 years, All-Star developed a new planform of mask that was engineered to be strong, much more resistant to bending (while still being steel), and would allow the most amount of pads to contact the face. This was the FM4000, but still didn't start to get circulated into the Major Leagues because most All-Star sponsored catchers would favor the lighter FM25-Titanium. Then All-Star, being a progressive and innovative company, developed the means to die-cast magnesium alloy, and used the FM4000's planform to produce the FM4000Mag:

  • Magnesium: lighter than even Titanium and Aluminum, and much, much lighter than Steel
  • Magnesium: won't bend, so it means that it will "always" look good
  • Die-cast Magnesium: No welds, so no additional weight, and will never break (due to conventional means)
  • LUC, now A-LUC pads: High-volume, low-weight, precision-cut now with a reinforcing plastic plate in the lower pad to distribute the impact load across the breadth of the pad

First used by Jonathan Lucroy, and then supplied to several other All-Star endorsed catchers, the 4KMag caught on like wildfire because of its two primary traits – extreme lightweight-ness and the fact that it would never bend or break. Of course, because umpires spend twice as long as either catcher with a mask on, umpires became intrigued by it. Several started using it, and based on their input, the following features were made to it:

  • Now available with a for-hat (traditional) harness
  • Now available in die-cast black
  • Now available with A-LMX (tan leather) pads

The lacking element is (still) the forehead pad, in that it doesn't have the same distributor plate the jaw pad does. Why's that? Because catchers don't (necessarily) need one, because they wear a hard hat (skullcap, helmet, et.al.)! This mask is sooooooo frustrating, because we're faced with this conundrum: If All-Star could develop this for catchers, what do you think they could produce for us umpires if motivated to??! And why aren't they motivated to? Because they're not the excluuuuuuuusive supplier to MLB Umpires! That's held by another company. Hmmm...

Now, at this one extreme, we have incredible lightweight-ness, which is highly valued by umpires everywhere, but especially by the Major League guys. Until the FM4000, the Achilles heel of lightweight masks – the titaniums and aluminums – was they would bend and/or break and they were expensive to not only purchase, but to replace. Accordingly, the FM4000 is not a cheap mask, priced at a substantial $200+. But, the assurance is, it will not bend and it will not break. This isn't a problem for the Major League guys... but it is a substantial cash layout for the Minor League guys! So it's problem when this collides with the protocol that if/when a mask hits the ground in a Major League game, that mask is done. If you're a tenured veteran, replacing that mask is not a lot of effort... however, if you're a recent call-up, and that's your preferred mask hitting the ground and ending its serviceable life... guess what you'll use instead? Yup, one of the "free" Dynalites sitting there, supplied by The Big W, and if you bend it, break it, or it falls... no real loss, right?

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/8/2019 at 8:40 AM, Aging_Arbiter said:

on 2 separate occasions, you mention "it took a second to figure out what hit me"

You're umpiring a baseball game.  I'll go with ......IT WAS A BASEBALL that hit you.

:sarcasm:

 

It was | Aliens! |

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
51 minutes ago, MadMax said:

This was the FM4000, but still didn't start to get circulated into the Major Leagues because most All-Star sponsored catchers would favor the lighter FM25-Titanium.

Isn't the FM4000 steel just 17oz while the FM25Ti is 19oz? 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Rock Bottom said:

Isn't the FM4000 steel just 17oz while the FM25Ti is 19oz? 

True! But consider that FM4K steel is more prone to being bent than a Titanium. If money is no object – which it isn't for a sponsored and supplied catcher for the MLB – then why not get a Titanium? The FM25Ti is slightly heavier because it has twice as many wires on it than the FM4K. Chris Stewart was the first catcher to wear the FM4K, then Lucroy began wearing it (after wearing the FM25Ti-2), but then was the first to wear the FM4KMag.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never wore a Ti, so I could only guess, but I thought people liked the hollow steel better than Ti because it absorbed more impact. And if I'm a major league catcher I don't care about a bent mask. (Plus I just think the FM4K looks cooler!) :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, MadMax said:

So it's problem when this collides with the protocol that if/when a mask hits the ground in a Major League game, that mask is done. 

Is this actually protocol? That's surprising to me. What exactly are they hoping to achieve by essentially EOL-ing masks that just hit the dirt?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, MikeSafari said:

What exactly are they hoping to achieve by essentially EOL-ing masks that just hit the dirt?

Liability and insurance underwriting. A mask that hits the ground in a MLB game is viewed as a mask no longer suited to protect the umpire, and because it came off, it potentially is a failed mask. Now, certainly, a significant impact that knocks off the mask does not mean that the umpire was deficient in keeping himself properly protected. If, however, the mask hits the ground, and the umpire puts the mask back on, and then takes an(other) impact, any loss of cognition, consciousness, memory, awareness, or any pain or injury will call into question whether or not that mask was compromised. So if the mask was indeed knocked off by an impact, then that impact was likely significant enough that the umpire, for best intentions, should probably exit the game, if not the PU role at the very least.

Major League baseball games have so much riding on them (AKA money involved), now, that if an umpire takes a significant impact on the plate, there are a lot of questions as to if his judgement of balls and strikes was impaired by that impact, and that this impairment affects the players.

Insurance underwriters scrutinize everything when it comes to honoring a claim. Was the mask worn "properly"? Was it in working order? Has it been modified different than standard? Some MLB lawyer, somewhere, maintains that a mask should be worn snugly so as not to come off because to the common viewer, is a mask supposed to come off? No. Again, an established, tenured veteran can usually get through this with little hassle. But a recent call-up, looking to show what they're capable of and be retained in the Big Leagues, is not going to risk being scrutinized on what mask they wear or how they wear it. As such, they typically use the basic Wilson Dynalite, because it is the "officially approved" mask, supplied for free, and can be disposed of and replaced very easily.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, MadMax said:

Liability and insurance underwriting. A mask that hits the ground in a MLB game is viewed as a mask no longer suited to protect the umpire, and because it came off, it potentially is a failed mask. Now, certainly, a significant impact that knocks off the mask does not mean that the umpire was deficient in keeping himself properly protected. If, however, the mask hits the ground, and the umpire puts the mask back on, and then takes an(other) impact, any loss of cognition, consciousness, memory, awareness, or any pain or injury will call into question whether or not that mask was compromised. So if the mask was indeed knocked off by an impact, then that impact was likely significant enough that the umpire, for best intentions, should probably exit the game, if not the PU role at the very least.

Major League baseball games have so much riding on them (AKA money involved), now, that if an umpire takes a significant impact on the plate, there are a lot of questions as to if his judgement of balls and strikes was impaired by that impact, and that this impairment affects the players.

Insurance underwriters scrutinize everything when it comes to honoring a claim. Was the mask worn "properly"? Was it in working order? Has it been modified different than standard? Some MLB lawyer, somewhere, maintains that a mask should be worn snugly so as not to come off because to the common viewer, is a mask supposed to come off? No. Again, an established, tenured veteran can usually get through this with little hassle. But a recent call-up, looking to show what they're capable of and be retained in the Big Leagues, is not going to risk being scrutinized on what mask they wear or how they wear it. As such, they typically use the basic Wilson Dynalite, because it is the "officially approved" mask, supplied for free, and can be disposed of and replaced very easily.

Max,

 

Isn't the traditional mask and pads designed to do exactly what is described, hit the ground with contact from a baseball?  It makes little sense to get rid of an item that performs as it is designed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shoot, I'd sign a waiver releasing Wilson of any liability if in stead of throwing them away, we could use them elsewhere..........then add TW pads

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, catsbackr said:

Isn't the traditional mask and pads designed to do exactly what is described, hit the ground with contact from a baseball? 

That’s not how they (the mask frame, pads, and harness) are designed. That they do, if worn loosely, by us “amateurs”, is an unintended, beneficial consequence.

Why do you think the NFL and NCAA now have official protocols that if/when a helmet comes off during play that that player has to leave the field to be checked out? Because of the liability and money involved. There is no definitive way to determine the long-term effects of a particular impact, let alone the immediate effect. What the experts must do, when assessing, is read and/or eliminate factors. Was the helmet worn correctly? Was it intact? Was that impacting force so great as to compromise the helmet as it was designed? 

If we look at the advances made in helmets for bikes, motorcycles, and auto racing, we find that in each, that helmet is designed to be destroyed by an overwhelming impact. That all that energy is applied to crushing the helmet’s structure with the most minimal affect on the wearer’s head. One impact = one destroyed helmet = one (hopefully) intact human.

The problem (or challenge) with baseball is that, again, the gear is designed for catchers and their constant variety of impacts, a good portion of which aren’t even by a baseball! Instead, umpire gear is a subset – a “yeah, and” – of catcher gear. Furthermore, the predominant reason the HSM is the default approved mask for HS baseball doesn’t have to do with any measurable difference between it and the two piece. It’s that it eliminates the question of an insurance underwriter of, “Was the mask being worn correctly? Did it behave as tested by the approving agency?” When NOCSAE (or any of the manufacturers) test the mask, does it come off? (The answer is a facetious “No”).

So, with the MLB Umpires, it is a matter of liability and insurance. And in this case, as cold and uncaring as it sounds, it extends beyond the health of the umpire. The “vested interests” of Baseball will scrutinize the cognitive condition of an umpire. That scrutiny can be aided or negated by instant replay, in the vast majority of cases. But which aspect is not aided by video (replay), solely dependent on human cognition, and has the most direct affect on the game (according to the participants)? The Plate Umpire calling Balls and Strikes.

So, If an impact is powerful enough to knock a mask off (which isn’t measured in testing), then how can we definitively say that it didn’t affect the Plate Umpire, thereby affecting how he calls Balls and Strikes?

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

if instead of throwing them away, we could use them elsewhere...

And you just uncovered the reason why the “Safety Umpire” in MLB (I know his name, just can’t publish it) issued a memorandum that Titanium was “dangerous” and “unsafe”... it wasn’t that Titanium was any more or less safe itself... it’s that Wilson was losing money on each one that had to be “thrown away”, especially after it got bent. Wilson is more protective of their “Exclusive” status with MLB than they are of us actual umpires!

Steel is far, far cheaper to produce and replace. Why does Wilson (still) dip them? Cheap! Cheap method for anti-corrosion and color retention. As far as using them elsewhere, who wants a bent mask? $50 steel Dynalite, bent... most would rather get a new one. Especially an aluminum one that is lighter and won’t bend!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, if the mask takes a foul ball or a missed pitch, is it the same thing? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, MadMax said:

That’s not how they (the mask frame, pads, and harness) are designed. That they do, if worn loosely, by us “amateurs”, is an unintended, beneficial consequence.

 

So, the intended consequence for a traditional mask, when struck by a baseball, is to stay on?  Sounds like we should be wearing a chinstrap rather than a mask harness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Mister B said:

So, if the mask takes a foul ball or a missed pitch, is it the same thing?

If it comes off and hits the ground? Yes.

We need to look at this the same way as OSHA looks at hardhats for any of the construction and utility trades. If a hardhat takes an otherwise innocuous impact – such as falling off the lunch table and clattering upon the concrete floor – and a witness observes that (and nowadays, cameras are everywhere), and the user doesn't change the hardhat, and then is involved in a head injury, that helmet's integrity is called into question. If it is found out that that helmet had previously taken an impact (and a witness is enough proof, regardless of severity), the insurance underwriter may not honor the claim.

Sound ridiculous, and a breach of common sense? Welcome to the American insurance industry!

59 minutes ago, catsbackr said:

So, the intended consequence for a traditional mask, when struck by a baseball, is to stay on?  Sounds like we should be wearing a chinstrap rather than a mask harness.

Not for us amateurs, Cats, but we're not on TV in front of an audience of millions, if not thousands (or maybe a few hundred if you're a Marlins fan). :stir

MLB is dealing with a lot of money. Head injuries, in the Major Leagues, are such an unknown, hard-to-define quality. When it comes to mask design, if a company like All-Star (who, in my estimation, does the most amount of active product testing and development) designs a mask to fall off, even going so far as to educate all parties (users, trainers, medical staff, and insurance underwriters) on how it works and what energy it captures when it does come off, then an umpire takes an impact and the mask doesn't come off, does that mean that his head injury is any less than if it did? Does that allow an insurance underwriter to question as to if the umpire's "faking it" and claiming more than what it appears to be? Simply because the mask didn't come off?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coaching helmet or whatever Estabrook wears could have prevented this IMHO. You guys need to quit worrying about being called a wus or sissy and trying to win a fashion regular base hat award. Get some protection. Estabrook helmet doesn't look all that Mickey mouse considering the consequences like below a minute ago.

Wear/save the regular hat for the bases. Or wear the coaching helmet there too.

 

https://deadspin.com/home-plate-umpire-takes-a-backswing-to-the-head-in-nati-1835431579

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...