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Limiting Collisions is About Money, and it Hurts the Game

Major League Baseball has officially adopted a policy and developed a new rule to severely limit the amount of contact that can be made at home plate between a runner and a catcher.

You can read this CBSsports article to get the full scoop on what the rule says, but basically, a runner will not be allowed to lower his shoulder and plow into a catcher. He will also not be able to extend his arms in an effort to run through a catcher. If he does that, he will be guilty of “deviating from his direct path to the plate.”

Furthermore, a catcher cannot block the plate without possession of the ball.

I don’t like it.

I played high school baseball and I played college baseball. You are not allowed to truck a catcher at those levels. It earns you an ejection. “Malicious intent” is what they call it.

At the pro level, it has been a part of the game forever. Players generally do not plow over catchers for no reason. It serves a purpose. The runner vs. the catcher is just one of the many one-on-one battles that make baseball great.

If the catcher doesn’t want to put himself in a vulnerable position, he can receive the ball in front of the plate and swipe at the runner. They often choose to stand right next to the plate because it gives you the most plate coverage and makes it more difficult for a runner to get to a spot on the plate that he wants.

This new rule is going to cause more sliding into home plate. Therefore it will cause more headfirst sliding into the plate. Expect to see more shoulder injuries, more jammed fingers, more broken wrists as catchers drop the shin guard once the throw is received. At least that’s how I see it.

People are constantly complaining about baseball players not playing hard. Robinson Cano not running out a ground ball irritates people to no end. Catching the ball with one hand in the outfield drives me up a cliff.

You’re going to see more of it. And more. And more, if you keep taking out parts of the game that breed that toughness and desire to win at all costs.

Of course, like most things, this is a money play by baseball.

MLB knows that its player contracts are so high and teams have so much invested in players that they can’t afford to see anybody hurt. All it took was this Buster Posey injury to get this conversation going.

If player safety were the real issue, such rules would have been enacted more than 40 years ago after one Pete Rose slide basically left Ray Fosse a shadow of the player he was.

 

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