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Report: Ban on home plate collisions ‘likely’

Oct 19, 2013, 7:23 PM EDT

utley-smash2

Opposing catchers such as Dioner Navarro for the Chicago Cubs know what they’re in for when they see Chase Utley rounding third base. If the ball beats Utley to the plate, they better brace themselves for impact.

But not for long. One of the most exciting plays in baseball sounds like it’s on the verge of going extinct. With the number of injuries mounting, Major League Baseball could move to outlaw violent collisions at home plate as early as next season according to a report filed by Buster Olney for ESPN.com.

That means plays like the one back in August where Utley bowled over Navarro and sent the catcher off the field on a cart would be gone forever. Olney has more:

Given how quickly sentiment within the sport about collisions is shifting — particularly as information about concussions has come to light, including the cost of concussion-related lawsuits faced by the National Football League — some officials talk of change as inevitable and predict that it could come swiftly.

“At this point, I don’t know who would argue to keep it, or what their argument would be,” said one team official who believes general managers will address the topic at their meetings next month. “There is no reasoned argument to keep it [in the game].”

The team officials who expect the change to occur believe that Major League Baseball will simply adopt the rules on plays at the plate that are used at every level below professional baseball: The baserunner is guaranteed an avenue to the plate and is not allowed to target the catcher.

The groundswell to remove the play at the plate really seemed to grow legs when Buster Posey suffered a fractured fibula and torn ligaments in his ankle for the San Francisco Giants in 2011. Olney cites numerous injuries during the ongoing postseason that might be the last straw.

It’s interesting because the play at the plate is so ingrained in baseball’s culture—not to mention glorified—that there will undoubtedly be an outcry over the softening of the game. Of course, there was frustration with recent rule changes in football too, but those haven’t seemed to affect the sport’s popularity any, and complaints have died down.

That’s just the direction things are headed in sports. Does baseball need the play at the plate? Probably not, but it’s always been there. But if removing it prolongs careers and cuts down on long-term health problems for professional athletes, it’s something that needs to at least be explored.

Up next: removing fighting from hockey. You just know they’re coming for that.

>> Ban on MLB plate collisions likely [ESPN]

  1. Jason R. - Oct 19, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    People will be up in arms but at the end of the day it make the game safer and doesn’t actually change anything. There’s no real reason for it other than offering a player that *should* be out a chance to not be out. Since the 80′s, you can’t truck any other position on the field, baseball survived just fine when they made tackling 2B/SS illegal. If its illegal to swat a ball out of a fielder’s glove ala ARod in the ALCS, shouldn’t be legal to unhinge someone in an attempt to separate the ball. Other than bloodlust and the “ooh ahh” factor it doesn’t serve a purpose, get over it. It’s not gonna change baseball culture, it happens like twice a month, if you can cut down on a torn ACL or concussion per year you *have* to do it.

    Reply
    • sfsu - Oct 20, 2013 at 9:19 AM

      You’re wrong. It is totally legal to truck a first baseman if the throw pulls him into the baseline. The reason you never see this is because unlike the catcher, the first baseman knows to not stand in the tracks when the trains coming through

      Reply
    • Joey B - Oct 21, 2013 at 12:50 PM

      So, if you’re in favor of making it slide or surrender, are you also in favor of automatically calling a runner safe if the catcher is blocking the path to the plate?

      Grant it, comparing little league to the majors is completely idiotic, but I broke a first baseman’s arm when I was 9 or 10. I was taught, correctly, to run through the bag, 100%, no matter what, until the out was called. Kid covering first was straddling the bag. He’d been straddling the bag all game. Had at least 3 of my team mates caught dead on close plays, because they let up to try and get around him. I didn’t. I ran through the bag, like I was taught. The coaches, and the kid’s parents were irate over the situation. Kid dropped the ball, and I was called safe, because as the runner, I had the right to a clear path. I bet if the kid played first after that, he didn’t straddle the bag anymore.

      Again, it’s realy kind of stupid to compare little league and the majors, but part of the reason collisions happen at home is because of the stance catchers take IN FRONT OF the plate. Of all the collisions I’ve seen, the majority that end up in serious injury happen in a circumstance when the catcher places himself in the path of the runner before he even has the ball in his glove.

      Sure, I’m all for changing the game to make it safe. BUT the first change should be to keep the catcher out of the base path. If a third baseman gets spiked on a hard slide into third, there are no calls for the head of the runner. If a SS or 2B man gets wiped out on a legal slide intended to break up a double play, it’s often said that the fielder needs to better make himself aware of the situation and get out of the way. Why are plays at the plate so different?

      Reply
      • Ant Vanella - Oct 21, 2013 at 1:00 PM

        So if the catcher is blocking the (you being the catcher) would you rather me slide and possibly put a cleat into your leg, wrist, forearm, etc., or run through you? If you are scared a being hurt, don’t play a man’s sport making millions of dollars. And the only correct thing you said was that you can’t :compare boys to men.

      • Ant Vanella - Oct 21, 2013 at 1:02 PM

        So if the catcher is blocking the plate (you being the catcher) would you rather me slide and possibly put a cleat into your leg, wrist, forearm, etc., or run through you? If you are scared a being hurt, don’t play a man’s sport making millions of dollars. And the only correct thing you said was that you can’t compare boys to men.

      • Ant Vanella - Oct 21, 2013 at 2:01 PM

        Plays at the plate are different cause that is where it is determined if you score or not. Which determines who wins. Or does everybody win and get a trophy? Kidding me?

  2. Ant Vanella - Oct 19, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    The sentence states; The baserunner is guaranteed an avenue to the plate and is not allowed to target the catcher. I’m fine with that. Then in turn, the catcher can not block the plate. The catcher must stay clear of the guaranteed avenue to the plate. Runners don’t target the catcher. What else is one to do when the catcher is blocking the plate? Stick a metal cleat into his arm, leg, etc.. Next they will ban metal cleats. For the amount of money these guys make, play the game like a man and stop crying like a bunch of babies.

    Reply
  3. mk - Oct 19, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    Most exciting play in sports.

    Reply
    • mike - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:47 PM

      What’s so exciting about it?

      It’s essentially one guy holding a ball. And then another guy running into him. And then the umpire determines if the first guy held onto the ball. It’s no more exciting than any other close plate at the plate/base. If you want to see men running into each other, just watch football.

      An inside-the-park home run in much more exciting than that. A triple is better. A diving catch is better. An alleyoop is better. The mad scramble around the net with a minute to go in a hockey game is better. Fat guy touchdowns are better.

      Reply
  4. BenE. - Oct 20, 2013 at 1:38 AM

    It’s part of the game.

    Reply
    • mike - Oct 21, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      That unnecessarily results in serious injuries.

      Reply
  5. willh888 - Oct 20, 2013 at 1:59 AM

    start fining pitchers for bean balls! breaking up a double play? illegal! first baseman catching a ball up the line in the path of the runner? scary! sex? wear 3 condoms!

    The good news is

    Reply
    • sfsu - Oct 20, 2013 at 9:21 AM

      If you read the rule concerning runners interference, take out slides have always been illegal

      Reply
  6. sfsu - Oct 20, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    Here’s why this sucks: a runner is out by fifteen feet, the catcher catches the throw and instinctively stands in front of the plate waiting for the runner. Since he is guaranteed an avenue to the plate, this means the runner is safe. Ridiculous.

    Reply
    • mike - Oct 21, 2013 at 1:09 PM

      Or the catcher can simply jog 15 up the baseline toward 3rd base and tag the baserunner.

      You know, the same play that has been happening for the past 150 years.

      Reply
      • Ant Vanella - Oct 21, 2013 at 1:58 PM

        There you go. So who’s in the wrong? The catcher or runner?

      • mike - Oct 21, 2013 at 4:59 PM

        The catcher is not wrong.

        The runner and/or 3rd base coach are wrong for getting thrown out by 15 feet.


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