Is change a-coming for home-plate collisions?

Drew Hallowell

Just a few nights ago, I was moved to profanity by yet another violent, and completely unnecessary, collision at home plate. What I found most frustrating was the reaction to the play by the brilliant minds in the broadcast booth. Which was essentially the same as the message in this e-mail message I received after publishing my column about the collision ...

Don't be such a pussy!!

Rob, since you felt the need to curse in your whinny article about running into the catcher.. I will respond in kind.

I understand your kind , feeling the need to draw attention to yourself by beginning your opinions about running into the catcher and the fact that you probably would rather have the runner kiss the catcher instead..

It's baseball, it's called hardball for a reason idiot! I know I know you wont respond but if you did you would probably go on about how the game has changed with all of the money involved in the game , yadda, uadda, yadda.

If the catcher is gonna block the plate with all of his gear strapped to him and the UNPROTECTED runner needs to touch the plate, I say go low and knock the shit out of him in hopes of jarring the ball loose.. What alternative does the runner have?

Why dont we just do away with real base runners? lets just play virtual baseball so no one gets hurt! MORON!!

Borrowing your editorial writing eloquence, SHIT HAPPENS !!

Yes, the spelling and the punctuation and the homophobia are ... unfortunate. But let's be honest about this! The basic opinion espoused by this particular Professor of Thinkology is little different than the views routinely voiced by Tim McCarver and Joe Buck and (more worrisome) Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, who have the (good) ear of Commissioner Bud Selig. Man up! Don't be a pussyI It's just a part of the game! I got concussed when I played, and I'm still plugging away. So why can't these millionaires do the same, and laugh about it like I did?

Which moves me to profanity, again. But this time I'll keep the naughty words to myself. Especially because today I'm a good mood. There are positive, progressive things to report! Less than 48 hours after that collision that moved me (not to mention Alex Avila), Buster Olney reported that "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]."

When asked about the topic after Game 5, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland became the latest to say that he is in favor of change, and that he believes there will be change. Leyland is one of the 14 members of commissioner Bud Selig's advisory committee.

--snip--

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose career was plagued by concussions, has called for change. Many other team executives say privately that they view the play as an outlier to the degree that it's unnecessary.

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.

I've written about this many, many times, and especially since Buster Posey's left leg was destroyed. I'm not going to revisit all the arguments for prohibiting home-plate collisions today. Instead, let me play the Devil's Advocate for a moment and temper your (or maybe my) optimism just a little.

First, none of the arguments for doing something are new. Not at all. We made all of them 20 years ago, and 10, and five years ago and two years ago. And every time, the Commissioner was unmoved. In part because men like Torre and La Russa were telling him the old ways were still the best ways.

Second, doing something will require a great deal of buy-in. Not just from the executives Olney talked to, or even highly respected managers like Jim Leyland, Mike Matheny, and Bruce Bochy. My guess is that Selig won't even consider a move unless a majority of his advisory committee's on board ... and then he'll need buy-in from the Players Association, and maybe the umpires' union, too. And I'm not at all sure about those, because a lot of players enjoy collisions -- it's a chance to show how goddamn tough they are -- and because the umpires won't relish having to make more judgment calls. And tough judgment calls, at that.

Concussions might change everything, though. It really wasn't until this season that concussions in baseball were regularly discussed, and the pressure on the National Football League has surely leaked over into Major League Basebsall, at least a little. They'll never be able to eliminate concussions in baseball entirely. But Commissioner Bud or his successor will have to do something, and the easiest something is the prohibition of senseless violence around the bases, and especially around the plate.

This will happen, friends. I just don't know when. We can only hope that Olney's prediction proves out, and nobody else loses their senses before Commissioner Bud and his friends come to theirs.

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