This week at the Winter Meetings, Major League Baseball announced that it has agreed to ban home plate collisions. The move has to be ratified by the Players’ Association in order to go into effect for the 2014 season. However, if the players do not vote to accept the new rule, MLB can unilaterally implement it for the 2015 season. This action is being taken to help reduce the number of concussions in baseball (a common theme in all sports). Additionally, though not touted as a reason, MLB does not want to see star players miss significant time due to injuries sustained in a home plate collision (Buster Posey is the prime example of this).
There is some sound logic behind the proposed rule change. Many point to the collision below, when Pete Rose barreled over Ray Fosse in the 1970 All Star Game, effectively ending Fosse’s career. The worst aspect of this collision is that it took place during an exhibition game.
More recently, as noted above, Buster Posey missed the majority of the 2011 season after this home plate collision with the Marlins’ Scott Cousins.
After the Posey injury, Giants’ GM Brian Sabean was very vocal about the need to ban collisions. Apparently, Sabean’s wishes are about to come true.
I agree that steps have to be taken in sports to reduce the number of concussions. Players not only miss time, but they also have repercussions later in life (there’s a story that former Dallas Cowboy Tony Dorsett, after he retired, did not know why he was on an airplane when the airplane was in the air). However, the home plate collision has been a part of the game for over a hundred years, and the injuries sustained have been relatively few. Catchers probably suffer far more concussions from foul tips than from collisions. An additional point to consider is the number of injuries this rule change could cause. Runners will now be forced to slide at the plate, which means sliding into catchers who are protected in equipment. The catcher could drop a shin guard on the runner, causing injury. Without the possibility of a collision, catchers will be much more motivated to block the plate, and possibly injure runners in the process. The rules do not technically allow catchers to block the plate without the ball:
As stated in Rule 7.06(b):
The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand.
However, this rule would have to be more regularly enforced than it currently is to prevent possible injuries. Here’s what we know. The banning of home plate collisions is coming, whether it’s next year of the year after. I’ve expressed my thoughts on the change.
What do you think?