While concussions may not be a pressing issue within Major League Baseball, I cannot help but feel that this is an important step in the means by which professional sports handles what amounts to a very serious health risk. Cash Kruth of MLB.com provides a great deal of insight into this new policy here. What follows is an edited selection of items that caught my eye.
"I believe that Major League Baseball is taking a major step forward on a vital shared goal with the MLB Players Association," Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said. "This policy, which reflects the collective expertise of many of the foremost authorities in the field, will benefit players, umpires and clubs alike, and I am proud of the spirit of cooperation that has led us to this result."The article also contains a list of all of the committee members that worked on this new policy, and it's a fairly impressive and ambitious group. Here's hoping that these measures help to prevent a redux of Morneau's 2010 season, as well as future ramifications like those suffered by former NFL players.
"I like it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I like it because sometimes that two or three days where a guy can't play can really put you in a hole where you don't want to send him down for 15 days. So, I think it's great."
The procedure for clearing a player or umpire to return to activity includes a club-submitted "Return to Play" form to Major League Baseball's medical director. The submission of the form is required regardless of whether the player was placed on the disabled list.
The policy also includes mandatory baseline neuropsychological testing requirements for players and umpires during Spring Training, or when a player joins a new club during the season. This already has been common practice for most clubs.
New procedures will be implemented for evaluating players and umpires for possible concussions after such incidents as being hit in the head by a pitched, batted or thrown ball or bat; a collision with a player, umpire or fixed object; or any time the head or neck of a player or umpire is forcibly rotated.
The Commissioner's Office will conduct an orientation for club medical staffs regarding the new protocols, and each club will be required to have a mild traumatic brain injury specialist in its home city.
"The MLBPA is pleased to have worked with the Commissioner's Office, members of club training and medical staffs and some of today's leading experts in neurology to develop new protocols for the diagnosis and treatment of concussions," said MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner. "Player safety is a major concern of the collective bargaining parties, and these new protocols and procedures should enhance our ongoing efforts to protect the health of players and umpires."