Multiple reports out of baseball’s winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., say that Major League Baseball’s rule committee has approved enforcement of rules that outlaw collisions at home plate.
Per Mark Zuckerman of Comcast Sports Net via Twitter:
Kind of major news here at Winter Meetings: Sandy Alderson says MLB Rules Committee has voted to eliminate all home plate collisions.
— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) December 11, 2013
Some within baseball have been calling for this change since San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey was seriously injured in a 2011 collision with Florida Marlins baserunner Scott Cousins. Giants manager Bruce Bochy, a former catcher, has been an outspoken advocate about the need to better protect catchers, as has St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, a former Gold Glove-winning catcher whose career was cut short by concussions. Bob Nightengale of USA Today, via Twitter, suggested an obvious—if not entirely complimentary—name for the new rule:
If the home-plate rule is approved by #MLB clubs and the players union, it should forever be known as the Buster Posey rule.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 11, 2013
Buster Olney of ESPN reported via Twitter that the new rule will be subject to whatever video replay rules wind up taking effect in the sport:
The most interesting aspect of new plate collision rules, I think, is that umpires will be able to use instant replay review to make ruling.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 11, 2013
This is a bigger issue than Buster Posey. For fans old enough to remember Pete Rose destroying the career of Ray Fosse in a collision at the plate—in an All-Star Game, no less, there have always been at least occasional questions about why collisions at the plate are necessary when they are already against the rules at every other base.
This isn’t about hard slides, folks. This is about lowering shoulders while running full speed toward a stationary target and unloading a blow.
Some fans will get upon their digital soapboxes and whine in melancholy tones about the continued “wussification” of American sports (yes, Damon Bruce, I am looking at you, as a matter of fact).
But I’d be willing to bet that an overwhelming percentage of those who wax so philosophically about the good old days of being able to decapitate catchers have never been on the receiving end of even one of those shots—or the giving end, for that matter.
Take my word for it: Getting rid of them is good for the game. Unless you want to be in your late 40s and occasionally look to answer a telephone that isn’t ringing. And, yes, I am making a personal reference to my own issues with the aftermath of multiple concussions—some of which were sustained while doing my manly duty and putting myself between a baserunner and home plate.
Fans sometimes lose some perspective on this. Too many of us look at players not as people first, but rather as things placed here for the sole purpose of our entertainment.
Other than being a nifty thing to put on a highlight reel, what is the difference between knocking out a catcher or simply trying to slide around one?
The difference usually is this: The baserunner knows he’s out and the catcher is then placed in the position of having to pay for the error in judgment made by the baserunner/third base coach/both of them.
It’s not a bad change. And it’s long overdue.
The rule is still subject to approval by the Major League Baseball Players Association because of potential fines or other penalties that could be associated with violating the rule.