Rule Change: Collisions At Home Plate

An article by posted on May 26, 2011
The Marlins’ Scott Cousins collides with Giants catcher Buster Posey in the 12th inning Wednesday.

It’s always tough to see a young player with such a promising career getting injured, especially when the injury was avoidable. Masked behind the Reds-Phillies’ 19-inning debacle, a serious injury occurred to promising young player, raising many safety concerns in baseball. The San Francisco Giants were working on defending their World Series championship, when it took a huge left turn when their ROY catcher, Buster Posey, went down with a serious ankle injury in the 12th inning of Wednesday’s 7-6 loss to the Marlins.

Posey was run over by the Marlins’ Scott Cousins and was in pain on the ground before having to be helped off the field, unable to put weight on his left foot. He was taken for X-rays but the results have not been revealed. Posey is also scheduled to undergo an MRI today.

“A catcher’s so vulnerable there,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s the toughest play in baseball. (A runner is) bearing down on you. You hate to see it. He’s our guy behind the plate, so hopefully you get good news there.”

This play has raised red flags with some people when it comes to the safety of players, and knowing the MLB Players Association, they’re gonna want to take action on it. Last year I wrote a piece about keeping the safety of players during injury avoidable situations when Kendry Morales had an ankle injury and had to go to the disabled list when the Angels celebrated his walk-off victory. Similar occurrence last year when Indians’ young catcher, Carlos Santana, injured his left leg after a collision at the plate with Ryan Kalish.

Buster Olney, of ESPN, talked about this issue on Twitter this morning saying:

In the big-picture question of risk/reward, the play of blocking home plate, to save one run, is just not worth it. Not even close. blocking home plate. The answer of “That’s the way it’s always been done” is not a good enough answer. Have catchers tag runners like 2B, 3B. MLB and the Players Association should step in and ban the play of a catcher blocking home. It’s just not worth it, for anyone involved. Agent for Buster Posey will call MLB and raise idea of rule changes regarding collisions between runners/fielders.

I have to agree with this, as other players agree like Braves reliever, Peter Moylan, agreed on his Twitter account.

Managers don’t want their outfielders diving into walls and getting injured, like Bay and Pagan have, or wanting pitchers to use their bare hands to grab a line drive near them. However, they expect their catcher to just stand there and get blasted by a player running as hard as they can at them, with the sole purpose of running them over and deliver a jarring blow to knock the ball out of their hands. Baseball is known as a very limited contact sport with the only contact between players is tagging a runner out or a slide tackle at second base.

There are plenty of alternatives to having a catcher stand his ground and allowing a runner just run him over. It would have been better to just wait for the runner to get closer to the plate, taking a step forward, and applying a sweeping tag on the runner. I remember playing catcher in high school and the rules banned catchers from blocking the plate and also banned runners from running over the catcher on purpose. Of course this is not the rules in the majors. But Bud Selig can’t just ban one without the other. And this is not a change in rules that will affect the views of baseball, as this type of play happens rarely, maybe once every two weeks.

Also, the fact that the Giants working on getting the NL West division and defending their World Series championship possibly being diminished as their cleanup hitter having a possible season-ending, career-ending injury for a run in a game in May. A little different if it was game seven of the WS. The only positive thing I can think of coming out of catchers blocking and runners blasting them, is showing that they will give up their bodies for their team, but when you have to go to the disabled list for weeks or months, quickly becomes a negative.

Just thought I’d bring up an issue of safety to reduce the number of players, and great players, on the disabled list. So should MLB and MLBPA take action to change the current rules, or is the culture of this sport just too important to change a rule that applies to an occurrence that happens maybe three times a month for all of baseball?

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