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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Calcaterra: MLB rules committee decides to eliminate collisions at home plate

Joe Torre and Sandy Alderson just announced that the MLB Rules Committee has voted to outlaw collisions at home plate. The decision is now subject to approval by the players.  If the players do not approve the rule change it will not go into effect in 2014, but MLB would be able to unilaterally implement it in 2015. It is expected, however, that the players will approve the change.

The rule has yet to be formally defined or drafted, but the upshot of all of this will be that base runners will be required to slide into home plate, not initiate contact with the catcher. Likewise, catchers will not be able to block home plate. Rather, they must tag runners — and allow runners a path to the plate — just as any other fielder does at any other base. Players who violate the collision rules will be subject to discipline in all likelihood, though exact sanctions will be determined once the rule is finalized.

Repoz Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:11 PM | 115 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:16 PM (#4616240)
Yay!
   2. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:17 PM (#4616241)
Finally this silliness will end. There's no good reason the game should turn into football as the runner is approaching home plate.

And now we can retroactively condemn Pete Rose as an official cheater for plowing into Ray Fosse, like we did for the steroids players of the 90s once testing later came into effect.
   3. McCoy Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4616245)
This doesn't actually eliminate collisions at home plate just like all the various rule changes in the NFL hasn't eliminated bone crushing hits. All that has simply happened here is that a player will now have to pay a fine or miss a game because he steamrolls a catcher on his way to creating a run or a catcher will have to pay a fine or a miss a game for standing in the way.

If you really want to eliminate collisions simply void the run and hand out an out or give them a run and advance other baserunners.
   4. zack Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4616249)
How can you say that, McCoy? They don't even say what the rule is.
   5. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:28 PM (#4616255)
The Yankees are already having the value of that McCann contract undermined.
   6. madvillain Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4616258)
I'll probably be in the minority here, but not a fan of this. The collision at home plate is one of the most exciting plays in the game and despite the injury risk to the players I don't agree that outlawing it is a positive step forward for MLB.

There's no good reason the game should turn into football as the runner is approaching home plate.


Other than 100 years of precedent.
   7. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4616259)
Well, sure, this doesn't "end" it per se but it'll now be against the rules so that will go a long way.
   8. SouthSideRyan Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4616261)
Infielders block the bag with their knee lots of times. Are they going to fine them for that?
   9. Dale Sams Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:33 PM (#4616262)
The rule says you have to slide. Now I don't understand if that means you HAVE to slide or can try and score standing up if you think there isn't going to be a play.

The easiest way to do this is to say: Catchers can't block the plate (will they still be allowed to use their foot like all fielders do nowadays?), if you plow into the catcher, then you're out, which is how it should have been done forever. Why should a players body or especially the ground be allowed to dislodge the ball? The second the player touches the ball he's out.


What happens if the ball's direction and arrival time keeps the catcher from going "Ole!" and giving the runner a path? Think of the ending of "A League of Our Own". Kit shouldn't have to slide at the last second, Dottie is blocking the entire plate. And Dottie doesn't have time to move out of the way and give Kit a clear path. So what happens? By the new rule, I don't know what they would do, but with the rule change I gave, Kit would be out because she was tagged.
   10. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:33 PM (#4616264)
Other than 100 years of precedent.


I don't think it's been that long, anyway, though I can't remember the details of the Bill James piece that explained this.

At one point if I'm recalling the article right catchers were going halfway up the line to wrestle with runners, despite not even having the ball. That was "precedent" also.

Mainly I think if you're not going to have collisions at all bases then it's incongruous to have them only at home plate. Yes, I know home plate is different from second or third (but not first) because you can overrun it. I don't see why that justifies the collisions.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:36 PM (#4616268)
Overdue. Long overdue.
   12. Srul Itza Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:38 PM (#4616270)
Good idea, but like everything else, the proof is in the implementation. I doubt it will completely eliminate the collisions, but over time it will likely have the effect of reducing them.

I won't miss it. I don't find the actual collision all that exciting or amusing. The tension as the runner comes home and the ball heads toward the plate -- will he score or will he be out -- is the heart of the action. Whichever way I'm rooting, the end result is what matters -- not the mechanics of a collision. And frankly, I find a deftly executed hook slide or grab of the plate, or acrobatic grab and tag, is a more aesthetically pleasing play than a collision.
   13. Eddo Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:39 PM (#4616272)
What happens if the ball's direction and arrival time keeps the catcher from going "Ole!" and giving the runner a path? Think of the ending of "A League of Our Own". Kit shouldn't have to slide at the last second, Dottie is blocking the entire plate. And Dottie doesn't have time to move out of the way and give Kit a clear path. So what happens? By the new rule, I don't know what they would do, but with the rule change I gave, Kit would be out because she was tagged.

Same thing that would happen at any other base, no?

Isn't that essentially what this rule would do? Make the home plate obstruction/interference rules just like the rules at first, second, and third?
   14. Eddo Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:41 PM (#4616274)
This doesn't actually eliminate collisions at home plate just like all the various rule changes in the NFL hasn't eliminated bone crushing hits. All that has simply happened here is that a player will now have to pay a fine or miss a game because he steamrolls a catcher on his way to creating a run or a catcher will have to pay a fine or a miss a game for standing in the way.

It's not quite the same situation as the NFL. In the NFL, the defender has to make contact with the player somehow, so of course they will still occasionally "miss" and hit someone illegally.

At home plate, contact is not necessary, so there really shouldn't be any "accidental" collisions.
   15. Steve Treder Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:42 PM (#4616276)
I don't find the actual collision all that exciting or amusing. The tension as the runner comes home and the ball heads toward the plate -- will he score or will he be out -- is the heart of the action. Whichever way I'm rooting, the end result is what matters -- not the mechanics of a collision. And frankly, I find a deftly executed hook slide or grab of the plate, or acrobatic grab and tag, is a more aesthetically pleasing play than a collision.

Entirely agreed.
   16. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:44 PM (#4616281)
I won't miss it. I don't find the actual collision all that exciting or amusing. The tension as the runner comes home and the ball heads toward the plate -- will he score or will he be out -- is the heart of the action. Whichever way I'm rooting, the end result is what matters -- not the mechanics of a collision. And frankly, I find a deftly executed hook slide or grab of the plate, or acrobatic grab and tag, is a more aesthetically pleasing play than a collision.


Agreed, and I find plowing into the catcher to be a fundamentally dirty play, though I grant it is not viewed that way. But I also find the catcher setting up in front of the plate without the ball to be dirty, too. It's amazing it took this long for sanity and a sense of fair play to prevail. If you are 10 feet from the plate and the catcher has the ball, turn around or attempt a hook slide or something. But to steamroll into the catcher with the blessing of the court is bizarre.
   17. DL from MN Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:46 PM (#4616282)
Yes, home plate would now be like any other base. If you plow into the fielder you're out. This rule change is good for the catcher AND the baserunner.

Now to get Joe Mauer to reconsider....
   18. simon bedford Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:48 PM (#4616283)
I , for one , look forward to an increase in 3rd base collisions
   19. SouthSideRyan Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:51 PM (#4616284)
To follow up on what I said earlier, can the catcher still have his leg stretched over the plate while fielding the ball itself in front of home?
   20. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:59 PM (#4616290)
This is the rule at virtually every level of baseball other than MLB. It won't be difficult for players to follow or umpires to enforce.

As one of the types calling for just this rule change for many years, hooray.
   21. Dale Sams Posted: December 11, 2013 at 07:14 PM (#4616296)
See...on MLB Tonight they just showed three examples, and I didn't think any of them were clear-cut. In all three the catcher didn't have time to get out of the way, to give a path...and in two of them, the runner did do a sort of slide, but there was a lot of impact also because the catcher was blocking the path. I don't see how this is going to change a lot of things.

   22. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: December 11, 2013 at 07:15 PM (#4616297)
The Rockford Peaches got screwed!!!
   23. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 11, 2013 at 07:21 PM (#4616301)
I don't see how this is going to change a lot of things.


If all it changes is that it eliminates the play where a catcher posts up in front of home plate without the ball and stays there while the runner slams into him at full speed, I think it's a clear win for the game. I think it's a good move to try to get out of the concussion business and leave that to the more contact-intensive sports.
   24. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: December 11, 2013 at 07:23 PM (#4616302)
There will be shades and interpretations still to figure out, but as a core principle this is just smart in pretty much every way.

The Rockford Peaches got screwed!!!
And Mike Cru--err, Bette Midler.
   25. LooseCannon Posted: December 11, 2013 at 07:28 PM (#4616305)
I await the first incident in which a player gets a concussion sliding head-first into the catcher.
   26. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: December 11, 2013 at 07:29 PM (#4616306)
That will be a long wait.
   27. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 11, 2013 at 07:49 PM (#4616316)
That will be a long wait.


Yes, it will be.

Players will slide feet first (or dive away and try to reach around, as they do now).

I've advocated this for years, and don't think it should be terribly difficult to enforce:

Catchers shouldn't be allowed to completely block a path to the plate, with or without the ball. Catchers can temporarily block the plate if it's in immediate act of taking a throw. If it's determined that the catcher is completely blocking the lane to the plate, the runner is safe.

The runner may not intentionally initiate contact with his upper body. If he does, he's ejected.

If the catcher blocks the path to the plate AND the runner initiates contact with the upper body, the runner is safe AND he's ejected. Suspensions and fines for either party, if necessary to get rid of it.

Will it eliminate all possible collisions? No. There will still be accidental collisions. But it should get rid of the intentional ones.




   28. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: December 11, 2013 at 08:13 PM (#4616332)
I have been a big proponent of this for a long time. So yay for that.
   29. The Yankee Clapper Posted: December 11, 2013 at 08:17 PM (#4616333)
There will be shades and interpretations still to figure out . . .

Perhaps they'll go to replay.
   30. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 11, 2013 at 08:17 PM (#4616334)

If all it changes is that it eliminates the play where a catcher posts up in front of home plate without the ball and stays there while the runner slams into him at full speed, I think it's a clear win for the game. I think it's a good move to try to get out of the concussion business and leave that to the more contact-intensive sports.


This has always been illegal. The umpire just needs to call obvious interference when it happens.
   31. Mr. Bouton's Greenie Fetish Posted: December 11, 2013 at 08:18 PM (#4616335)
I'll probably be in the minority here, but not a fan of this. The collision at home plate is one of the most exciting plays in the game and despite the injury risk to the players I don't agree that outlawing it is a positive step forward for MLB.


Is it still legal to collide at lower levels of amateur ball? High school, little league, etc? If so, then MLB outlawing it will be a good first step towards seeing it outlawed in lower levels.

It's been 25 years, but I was a catcher in my youth and was on the receiving end of multiple concussions from getting completely mowed over by someone substantially larger than me. I held on to the ball each time though.

To the extent that very scenario still plays out across thousands of diamonds across the US each year, I'm massively in favor of ending it.
   32. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 11, 2013 at 08:27 PM (#4616338)
Is it still legal to collide at lower levels of amateur ball? High school, little league, etc? If so, then MLB outlawing it will be a good first step towards seeing it outlawed in lower levels.


It's not. Most leagues, up to and including the NCAA, do not allow for collisions. Getting major leaguers to stop running into catchers should be pretty damn easy.

   33. The District Attorney Posted: December 11, 2013 at 08:38 PM (#4616341)
So will Joe Mauer and Carlos Santana be moved back to catcher now? :-)

(The answer, of course, is "no", because the teams committed to the position switch. But it's interesting to contemplate whether the same decision would have been made had the rule change been announced earlier. Especially in Mauer's case, since part of the impetus behind moving Santana was that the guy was a bad defensive catcher anyway, but the Mauer move seemed to be entirely about protecting his health.)
   34. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 11, 2013 at 08:45 PM (#4616344)
(The answer, of course, is "no", because the teams committed to the position switch. But it's interesting to contemplate whether the same decision would have been made had the rule change been announced earlier. Especially in Mauer's case, since part of the impetus behind moving Santana was that the guy was a bad defensive catcher anyway, but the Mauer move seemed to be entirely about protecting his health.)


Catching will be safer under this rule, but it's still the most dangerous defensive position (excluding pitching, of course). Foul tips are nasty, potentially concussive, buggers, for one.

But anything to keep the species a little safer is welcome.

   35. Anonymous Observer Posted: December 11, 2013 at 08:51 PM (#4616348)
If the players do not approve the rule change it will not go into effect in 2014, but MLB would be able to unilaterally implement it in 2015.


Can anybody explain this to me? It seems that if they have to get the players' approval, that it's subject to the CBA. But if it's not subject to the CBA, why can't they just unilaterally implement it now? What's the difference between implementing it now, as opposed to next year?

I only read the excerpt, so if the answer to this question is in the article, tell me to RTFA.
   36. Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: December 11, 2013 at 08:55 PM (#4616350)
So will Joe Mauer and Carlos Santana be moved back to catcher now? :-)

(The answer, of course, is "no", because the teams committed to the position switch.

Moreover, IIRC Mauer's concussion this year was from his taking a foul tip off the mask, not from a collision at the plate.
   37. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 11, 2013 at 08:56 PM (#4616351)
Can anybody explain this to me? It seems that if they have to get the players' approval, that it's subject to the CBA. But if it's not subject to the CBA, why can't they just unilaterally implement it now? What's the difference between implementing it now, as opposed to next year?


I'd guess MLB has to give MLBPA a certain amount of time before any rule change can go into effect. If they want to change the rule before the deadline, then the players must sign off.

It's not covered in FA, which is only one more paragraph of Craig supporting it.

Interesting whether the MLBPA will in fact approve it. You'd think that it should pass rather easily, but you never know.
   38. McCoy Posted: December 11, 2013 at 09:22 PM (#4616361)
How can you say that, McCoy? They don't even say what the rule is.

You don't need the players' permission to call an out. You do if you want to fine them or suspend them.
   39. McCoy Posted: December 11, 2013 at 09:24 PM (#4616362)
See...on MLB Tonight they just showed three examples, and I didn't think any of them were clear-cut. In all three the catcher didn't have time to get out of the way, to give a path...and in two of them, the runner did do a sort of slide, but there was a lot of impact also because the catcher was blocking the path. I don't see how this is going to change a lot of things.

How does a catcher not have time to get out of the way? He sets up behind the plate. He has to intentionally get in the way in order to not have time to get out of the way.
   40. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 11, 2013 at 09:33 PM (#4616364)
Buster Posey wants his lost year back...
   41. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 11, 2013 at 10:28 PM (#4616374)
How does a catcher not have time to get out of the way? He sets up behind the plate. He has to intentionally get in the way in order to not have time to get out of the way.


Because he has to come in front of the plate to catch a throw and tag a runner out.

Not a fan of this but it's the right move. I'm with Madvillain that it's one of the most exciting plays in baseball and while we can all remember famous examples of serious injury it's pretty rare. That said given the way things are going there is no reason for MLB to sanction something that is likely to cause concussions and is in fact avoidable.
   42. McCoy Posted: December 11, 2013 at 10:30 PM (#4616375)
Because he has to come in front of the plate to catch a throw and tag a runner out.


He doesn't have time to take two steps after a batter puts the ball in play? Look, the only way a catcher doesn't have time to get out of the way is if he purposefully decides to get in the way. Plain and simple.
   43. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 11, 2013 at 10:56 PM (#4616380)
Really? You've never seen a play where a fielder is going for the ball that happens to be in the runner's path? That doesn't seem that outrageous a thing to me.
   44. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: December 11, 2013 at 11:10 PM (#4616384)
And frankly, I find a deftly executed hook slide or grab of the plate, or acrobatic grab and tag, is a more aesthetically pleasing play than a collision.

So do I, but I don't like the vision of a 225 lb. catcher with his shin-guarded feet planting himself firmly astride the plate, and a 180 lb. runner sliding into him and suffering severe knee damage when his speeding leg runs into a heavy and stationary object at an awkward angle. If such a slide were slightly off in the wrong direction, I could easily see the runner's ankle or knee snapping like a twig, the same way it does when the runner's spikes get snagged in a base.

Bottom line is that while the rule sounds good on paper, I'm not sure it won't have some unintended consequences.
   45. Dale Sams Posted: December 11, 2013 at 11:47 PM (#4616402)
Why would a catcher not be allowed to block the plate if he already has the ball? It happens all the time in rundowns. And every player not named Albert Belle tries to go around the guy with the ball.

You know, just outlawing lowering your shoulder and destroying a guy will make a good difference. and in the past when a guy would go out of his way to knock over a catcher not even in the basepath...those guys should have been suspended.
   46. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 11, 2013 at 11:54 PM (#4616405)
Bottom line is that while the rule sounds good on paper, I'm not sure it won't have some unintended consequences.


The rule works fine at every level of the sport. It will work fine at MLB.

Guys have to condition themselves to run over the catcher when they make the big leagues. Now, they won't have to learn that.


Why would a catcher not be allowed to block the plate if he already has the ball? It happens all the time in rundowns. And every player not named Albert Belle tries to go around the guy with the ball.


It need not happen anywhere. You don't need to completely block the path to the base to tag a guy out if you already have the ball.
   47. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: December 11, 2013 at 11:58 PM (#4616407)
Dale,

Fast pitch softball is awesome about this. If the catcher doesn't have the ball on a play at home, she needs to be in front on the plate (not on the baseline). Once the catcher gets the ball, they can move to the baseline and the runner needs to slide or avoid contact.

Obviously there are incidental contact type of plays that still happen, but I had that stuff happen when I played 1st on bad throws.
   48. jacjacatk Posted: December 12, 2013 at 12:12 AM (#4616415)
Without reading the responses so far, it's about ####### time.
   49. madvillain Posted: December 12, 2013 at 12:13 AM (#4616417)
That said given the way things are going there is no reason for MLB to sanction something that is likely to cause concussions and is in fact avoidable.


I'd be quite curious to see some data, which I'm sure MLB has, on what percentage of a) total plays at home plate and b) total plays involving a blocking catcher, result in injuries.

If they can make a persuasive argument that the injury risk involved in blocking is such that it easily outweighs my two concerns about banning an exciting play and bringing in another judgement call for the umps, then I'll be all for it.

What are the high profile injuries at home plate involving blocking? Maujer's is the only one that comes to mind. IIRC Ventura suffered an ugly dislocation at home plate but that was on the type of collision that wouldn't be banned.

Also curious as to Bob Tufts thoughts on this. What is the general feeling about accepted risk in the MLB clubhouse? Given how macho it is I'd assume it's similar to the NFL Players'.
   50. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 12, 2013 at 12:23 AM (#4616420)
What are the "well known" injuries are home plate involving blocking? Maujer's is the only one that comes to mind.


Fosse, Posey, Estrada and Santana all suffered injuries in collisions. Lou Marson was sent to the 15-day disabled list this year.
   51. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 12, 2013 at 12:32 AM (#4616426)

If they can make a persuasive argument that the injury risk involved in blocking is such that it easily outweighs my two concerns about banning an exciting play


What about these collisions is "exciting," above and beyond a clean hook slide or something? To me the hook slide or acrobatic slide is more exciting. Collisions at the plate are annoying, dirty plays that the game will be better off without.

What are the high profile injuries at home plate involving blocking? Maujer's is the only one that comes to mind. IIRC Ventura suffered an ugly dislocation at home plate but that was on the type of collision that wouldn't be banned.


Ray Fosse and Buster Posey come to mind. But the real issue is that there have been many, many collisions that shook the catcher up, maybe injured him, maybe not, maybe got him a concussion, maybe not - like the various hits/concussions Alex Avila took - that are pretty well pointless. Here are a few of them.

Just because the catcher may not have left the game doesn't mean he wasn't hurt on the play or pointlessly shaken up or that he was at needless risk of an injury.
   52. Squash Posted: December 12, 2013 at 12:49 AM (#4616428)
So do I, but I don't like the vision of a 225 lb. catcher with his shin-guarded feet planting himself firmly astride the plate, and a 180 lb. runner sliding into him and suffering severe knee damage when his speeding leg runs into a heavy and stationary object at an awkward angle.

There are many many sliding plays at home over the course of a season, and have been for years. It's not like they're instituting a brand new foreign aspect of the game.
   53. madvillain Posted: December 12, 2013 at 01:01 AM (#4616434)
Man, I just watched Ray's video and got a little pumped up. The injuries suck, but I kinda like Ronnie Lott videos too.

In football the violence is front and center, in baseball is lurks beneath the surface in the collision at home, the collision with the wall, the hit by pitch or come backer to the pitcher. I guess you could argue that violence (aka "collision sport", the nice euphemism football likes) isn't an inherent part of baseball and as much as possible should be discouraged.

   54. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 12, 2013 at 01:06 AM (#4616435)
The injuries suck, but I kinda like Ronnie Lott videos too.


Well, one of the catchers had Bo Jackson bearing down on him, so there's that.

In football the violence is front and center, in baseball is lurks beneath the surface in the collision at home, the collision with the wall, the hit by pitch or come backer to the pitcher. I guess you could argue that violence (aka "collision sport", the nice euphemism football likes) isn't an inherent part of baseball and as much as possible should be discouraged.


If violence is what you're looking for, go watch NASCAR where they drive around in circles until someone dies.
   55. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: December 12, 2013 at 01:09 AM (#4616436)
Man, I just watched Ray's video and got a little pumped up. The injuries suck, but I kinda like Ronnie Lott videos too.


Awwwww, sociopath makes cute ...
   56. Squash Posted: December 12, 2013 at 01:24 AM (#4616438)
Man, I just watched Ray's video and got a little pumped up. The injuries suck, but I kinda like Ronnie Lott videos too.

As a kid I used to be fascinated by homeplate collisions, but that video made me feel a little sick. It isn't (for me) particularly redeeming watching a standing-still defenseless guy who often is looking in the other direction get plowed by some 200 lb. guy running at full speed. Especially 50 times in a row in 5-second clips.

Along those lines, catcher's equipment doesn't offer nearly the protection many people seem to think it does (witness descriptions of "but the catcher's in armor!!!" and such). It's shin guards and a fairly thin chest protector (the mask is gone by the time the runner gets there) designed to blunt small, quick-impact projectiles (foul tips). It does essentially nothing to protect you from a full body, stationary-object-vs.-moving-object collision.
   57. bobm Posted: December 12, 2013 at 01:25 AM (#4616439)
http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/12/11/pete-rose-slams-mlbs-decision-to-eliminate-home-plate-collisions/

“What are they going to do next, you can’t break up a double play?” Pete Rose said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “You’re not allowed to pitch inside. The hitters wear more armor than the Humvees in Afghanistan. Now you’re not allowed to be safe at home plate? What’s the game coming to? Evidently the guys making all these rules never played the game of baseball.”

Rose, banned for life in 1989 following a gambling investigation, famously bowled over catcher Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star game. Rose insists Fosse was blocking the plate without the ball, which is against the rules.

“Since 1869, baseball has been doing pretty well,” Rose said. “The only rules they ever changed was the mound (height) and the DH. I thought baseball was doing pretty good. Maybe I’m wrong about the attendance figures and the number of people going to ballgames.”


   58. madvillain Posted: December 12, 2013 at 01:35 AM (#4616444)
Awwwww, sociopath makes cute ...


Not sure if serious, but I had a feeling this was coming. At the risk of having a serious discussion, violence inside the arena (ahem) is sanctioned in ways it's not outside. Hockey, compared to baseball, has an egregious problem, moreso, IMO, than even the NFL.

That fights are sanctioned in pro hockey makes collisions at home plate look like small potatoes.

Bettman was once quoted as saying "fighting has always had a place in the game" for crying out loud. #### a kid actually died after a fight in minor league hockey in 2009.
   59. cmd600 Posted: December 12, 2013 at 01:38 AM (#4616447)
Lou Marson was sent to the 15-day disabled list this year.


Marson didn't come back at all this year, and ended up getting non-tendered. His no longer getting a paycheck is directly tied to a home plate collision.
   60. Squash Posted: December 12, 2013 at 01:44 AM (#4616450)
In terms of damage cheap shots seem to be much more a problem in hockey than fights, and lead to many more injuries than fights do. I hadn't heard about the player dying - was that actually a fight or was it someone coming up from behind and nailing him? That fighting is allowed does encourage the "punch the guy who isn't looking" variety of cheap shots though.
   61. Sunday silence Posted: December 12, 2013 at 02:01 AM (#4616457)
Baseball lost a huge amount of excitement when it banned the first baseman from hooking his fingers in the runners belt loops and keeping him at first. And I used to love it when the third baseman would trip the guy rounding third. Ole Anklebreaker Jones had mastered that technique and now they wont even allow him to do it. They took away a legimate skill. Pussies!
   62. Sunday silence Posted: December 12, 2013 at 02:08 AM (#4616461)
Getting back to Ray's pt. about Bill James' take. As I recall James described modern baseball as "wrestling halfway up the third base line" or some such. I think his point was that the game as played in the old days (I think this was in the chapter on the 1930s) was a bit cleaner in that respect. Then I think he said that gradually it got worse and worse until we've reached the pt. today (I guess the book was written circa 1986) where the catcher wrestles the guy half way up the line.

So I think he was embellishing the point quite a bit. But the overall point was that it's gotten worse and also that there was some sort of rule against it, but apparently was never really enforced.

I wouldnt take Bill James as the absolute last word either, perhaps it was worse.
   63. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: December 12, 2013 at 02:53 AM (#4616468)
ITS ABOUT TIME!

No place in baseball.
   64. madvillain Posted: December 12, 2013 at 03:36 AM (#4616474)
Baseball lost a huge amount of excitement when it banned the first baseman from hooking his fingers in the runners belt loops and keeping him at first. And I used to love it when the third baseman would trip the guy rounding third. Ole Anklebreaker Jones had mastered that technique and now they wont even allow him to do it. They took away a legimate skill. Pussies!


In other words, why is it obstruction in the field but not at the plate?

Decent writeup by Verducci about the rule, some good quotes from varied sources in the game.
   65. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 12, 2013 at 09:18 AM (#4616502)
I await the first incident in which a player gets a concussion sliding head-first into the catcher.

paul molitor got a concussion in sliding into a catchers shin guard back in the mid-80's and missed several games as a result. much more recently as a brewer bill hall did the same thing. players will sometimes slide headfirst into home especially on the plays where the infield is scrambling after an errant throw and the guy dashes toward home and the catcher is scrambling to cover the plate and gets a throw while half on the run to the plate. I have seen that any number of times
   66. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 12, 2013 at 09:23 AM (#4616505)
sunday

I can state quite emphatically that guys did not block the plate WITHOUT the ball like they began doing in the later 70's and it went full bore in the 80's when the current manager of the angels would squat on the damn plate and fend off runners while waiting for a throw.

in the American league it was primarily lance parrish who was as big as an ox and liked to shove off by having guys bounce off him while trying to score.

the current manager of the cardinals took it to another level when he would wedge his foot between the ground and the plate using home as an anchor. I had not seen a catcher do that before matheny. at least in an overt manner. matheny is also the guy who got hit in the face with a pitched ball and played the next day

I like mike but as a player he was a little crazy. in a quiet way. if that makes sense
   67. depletion Posted: December 12, 2013 at 10:01 AM (#4616529)
Perhaps they can go back to throwing the ball at a runner to get him out.
I think this is a good change. Football added "in the grasp" and "launching" rules because players are just bigger and faster than 40 years ago, without stronger connective tissue and bones.
Also, Dave Parker wiped out his face trying to take out John Stearns (former U Colo. footballer). Tough catchers dish it out, too.
   68. DL from MN Posted: December 12, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4616580)
Torii Hunter gave himself a concussion colliding with a catcher (White Sox?). He also did that colliding with a wall on a couple occasions.

Catchers were 5 times more likely to end up on the concussion DL. If this drops that to just 2x it will be a great improvement.
   69. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 12, 2013 at 11:07 AM (#4616586)
I like mike but as a player he was a little crazy. in a quiet way. if that makes sense


Matheny and Bochy have been leading the charge among current managers to eliminate home plate collisions.

   70. Ron J2 Posted: December 12, 2013 at 11:07 AM (#4616587)
#10 The essay is called "Blocking and Tackling The Plate"

It starts:

"The modern method of blocking the plate is, quite simply, illegal. If you read the rule book (Rule 7.06 B) it is quite clear that the catcher is not allowed to block home plate in any way, shape or form without having the ball in his hand."

What follows is nabbed from somebody else's post using the article. He doesn't mention that James points out an exchange in the 1938 Spalding Guide which plainly says that it's illegal to block the plate without the ball. He notes that the word choice matters. These days you might read something like "illegal but everybody does it". He also notes that the fact that the exchange occurs in the "Knotty Problems" section means that it's not a common issue. As James notes that section deals with things like "the ball lodges in the pocket of a passing marsupial".

Now, back to James on the history of home-plate collisions: “I started looking through the guides of the twenties and thirties, looking for home-plate collisions. There aren’t any . . . There are plenty of photographs of plays at home plate, and sometimes they run into each other, but not like now. ( arguably not quite correct. One of the most famous brawls of the 30s rose out of a home plate collision. Bill Dickey broke Carl Reynolds' jaw after a home plate collision)

“Basepath obstruction was a major problem in the 1880s and nineties, when baseball was in danger of becoming a contact sport. In 1897 the rules on obstruction were tightened up, and the principle of free access to the bases met with general acceptance at the other three positions. There was always something of a problem with catchers blocking the plate, but there were always limits. In 1922 two games were protested because of the intractability of catchers. National League president Heydler ruled against the protests, writing that “the unpopular practice of ‘blocking off’ runners at the plate. . . has always been the cause of dispute, ill-feeling among and serious injury to players, but against which no practical rule remedy has been found.”

James here contrasts the relatively clear path to the plate baserunners historically had with the situation in the mid-‘80s, when “the catcher [he names Mike Scioscia specifically] sets up eight foot down the third-base line and wrestles the runner until help arrives. . . . No one is expected to leave part of the plate open.”

James adds: “I think it has changed a lot just in the last fifteen or twenty years. . . . I don’t remember Elston Howard or Bill Freehan doing some of the things that they do now.”

He mentions how the violation of rule 7.06 was similar to violation of the pine-tar rule and the rule that a base runner always had to touch the next base to avoid being put out, in that both of those rules went ignored and unenforced, until Merkle’s Boner and the George Brett “Pine-Tar Incident” in 1983. James concludes: “What we have here is another situation of which no good can arise.”
   71. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: December 12, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4616621)
Matheny and Bochy have been leading the charge among current managers to eliminate home plate collisions.

yup, which i guess means he doesn't want anyone enduring what he experienced.

i figured mike was so determined to be tough as a player because he understood that he was limited in other parts of the game and toughness was something he could control.
   72. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 12, 2013 at 12:32 PM (#4616673)
frankly, I find a deftly executed hook slide or grab of the plate, or acrobatic grab and tag, is a more aesthetically pleasing play than a collision.

This times a billion.
   73. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 12, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4616674)
Thanks for the details on the James piece, Ron.
   74. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: December 12, 2013 at 12:38 PM (#4616680)
   75. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: December 12, 2013 at 12:55 PM (#4616704)
Since almost everyone is in favor of this, can I assume almost everyone would also like to see takeout slides eliminated also?

Breaking up double plays is an equally dangerous play, having the same "playing the game right" mentality, but resulting in needless injuries. How can it be legal to slide at a defender that is nowhere near the base? And baseball's current strategy to deal with it is to allow 2B/SS to make outs without touching the base. Not only is that a terrible idea, but with replay on the way, may not be able to stick around.

Fortunately this has a solution even easier than the home plate collisions:

1) No more neighborhood play, touch the base to get an out.
2) A baserunner must slide toward the base. A slide away toward a defender that is not on the base will result in an automatic double play call, and the baserunner is ejected (suspended?).

I have been wanting this to happen for years, and it seems a lot more important than this rule for home plate, since it happens a heck of a lot more often, or at least it seems to me.
   76. Squash Posted: December 12, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4616707)
Catchers also block the plate because they're expected to - if you don't you're not a manly man.
   77. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 12, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4616708)
Since almost everyone is in favor of this, can I assume almost everyone would also like to see takeout slides eliminated also?


Definitely. (Well, speaking for myself, anyway.)
   78. DL from MN Posted: December 12, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4616721)
Tsuyoshi Nishioka approves of your rule change at 2B.
   79. Squash Posted: December 12, 2013 at 01:06 PM (#4616722)
Since almost everyone is in favor of this, can I assume almost everyone would also like to see takeout slides eliminated also?

Anecdotally, it would seem there are many more injuries, particularly catastrophic injuries, caused in home plate collisions than in breaking up double plays. Other people may have a different sense though. That being said I do believe the rule should be you have to slide toward the base. If the fielder is still hanging around second there's not a ton you can do. But when the SS/2B moves past the base to make the throw it doesn't seem in keeping with the theory of the game that you should be able to slide in a manner that would never result in you being safe on the play regardless (i.e. sliding three feet away from the bag to try to take out the SS).
   80. Nasty Nate Posted: December 12, 2013 at 01:08 PM (#4616725)
Breaking up double plays is an equally dangerous play


I don't think this is true.
   81. Srul Itza Posted: December 12, 2013 at 01:29 PM (#4616756)
Breaking up double plays is an equally dangerous play, having the same "playing the game right" mentality, but resulting in needless injuries. How can it be legal to slide at a defender that is nowhere near the base?


It depends. If the fielder is still on the base when the runner arrives, I have not problem with a hard slide (as opposed to a rolling block) which disrupts the throw.

If the runner goes after the fielder after he has moved away from the base, the double play should be called every time (as it now is sometimes), to make the play counterproductive.
   82. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 12, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4616786)
It depends. If the fielder is still on the base when the runner arrives, I have not problem with a hard slide (as opposed to a rolling block) which disrupts the throw.


I think the DP situation is almost an unavoidable problem. If the play is going to be close, the runner is going to be coming hard at the base. He has to slide. If the middle infielder is still on the bag, it creates a more dangerous situation than if the fielder is off the bag (which is why I've never had a problem with a reasonable neighborhood play - it's got to be more dangerous for all parties for the contact to happen if you add a fixed, protruding base to the mix).

I'm all for requiring a nice, straight legs-down slide at the base, but if you now require the fielder to stay on the base at the time of the catch (which replay may make unavoidable), the situation will be slightly more dangerous than it could be.

   83. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: December 12, 2013 at 02:38 PM (#4616827)
Part of the problem with home plate collisions is that very often the ball and the runner are arriving within instants of each other. A lot of the catchers in the video Ray shared had just barely gotten the ball when they got trucked, and had no ability to prepare themselves for contact. I'm very glad that this rule is being changed, and I would not mind at all the outlawing of the takeout slide.
   84. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: December 12, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4616840)
I think at this point we should eliminate all touching of the opposing player in all sports so that no one gets hurt. I'm sure the Haphephobes among us will appreciate this.
   85. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 12, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4616846)
I think the DP situation is almost an unavoidable problem.


Why? Permit the runner to slide into the base, like they do for steals, and do not permit the runner to slide THROUGH or PAST the base to go barreling into the fielder especially when the runner knows he's already out. We all know when runners are careening through the base or out of the base line in order to attack the fielder. Sometimes they are actually even rolling through the bag. And this is not even like the catcher situation where catchers contribute to the problem by blocking the plate. No second baseman is "blocking" the base; he's simply trying to tag it. (Hell, with the neighborhood play he's not even on the base at all.)

If the second baseman is in front of the base, fine, slide through the second baseman. Fair enough. But if he is on the base or over the base or behind the base or coming to the base then there's no reason for contact. Since when do runners need to slide through the bag? That is counter to what they are trying to accomplish, which is to reach the bag safely where going PAST the bag could lead them to being tagged out. Maybe there is a little slide-over depending on how you're coming in, but sliding through or over the bag is a clear indication that they're going after the fielder instead of trying to reach the base safely, which we all know that they are. If the play is close, they DON'T try to slide through like that; they try to reach the bag and stop.

We all know what is happening here. It's not hard to make rules that forbid it. It's not fair to ask second baseman or shortstop to stand in while a runner who knows he is going to be out -- otherwise he wouldn't be barreling into the fielder -- takes an attempt at wrecking his knees.

   86. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 12, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4616856)
Why? Permit the runner to slide into the base, like they do for steals, and do not permit the runner to slide THROUGH or PAST the base to go barreling into the fielder especially when the runner knows he's already out. We all know when runners are careening through the base or out of the base line in order to attack the fielder. Sometimes they are actually even rolling through the bag. And this is not even like the catcher situation where catchers contribute to the problem by blocking the plate. No second baseman is "blocking" the base; he's simply trying to tag it. (Hell, with the neighborhood play he's not even on the base at all.)


I agree with all of that, and said I support a rule that requires the runner to go at the bag with his legs down (rather than a Holliday-like charge). But any slide into second base from a hard-charging runner at a base where the fielder is looking to not just record one out, but set himself up for a second, is going to be somewhat dangerous (particularly if the neighborhood play is no longer allowed). The danger can be limited, but it can't really be removed. That's the point.

   87. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 12, 2013 at 02:56 PM (#4616857)
I think at this point we should eliminate all touching of the opposing player in all sports so that no one gets hurt. I'm sure the Haphephobes among us will appreciate this.


I actually think we should just eliminate the assault and battery part of it.
   88. Bitter Mouse Posted: December 12, 2013 at 02:57 PM (#4616861)

1) No more neighborhood play, touch the base to get an out.
2) A baserunner must slide toward the base. A slide away toward a defender that is not on the base will result in an automatic double play call, and the baserunner is ejected (suspended?).


Yes. #1 makes me crazy. At first base every centimeter and microsecond count, at second base - hey he was within five feet of the bag with the ball, let's just call the runner out and move on with the game.

There can still be issues, and I can live with those, but how about we stop the silliness.
   89. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 12, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4616867)
Yes. #1 makes me crazy. At first base every centimeter and microsecond count, at second base - hey he was within five feet of the bag with the ball, let's just call the runner out and move on with the game.


I don't think that's close to accurate any more. In the 70s-80s, the neighborhood was indeed more spread out than Jacksonville, Fla. (that was also when they allowed Hal McRae to use a crowbar in an effort to break up double plays, so there's some logic there).

But the neighborhood's been tightened quite a bit in recent years, and considering that it makes life safer for our nation's endangered supply of middle infielders, I've never understood why so many get so outraged about it. Allowing infielders to be close, but not demanding they be right on the bag, protects their legs, a situation first basemen don't have to worry about (barring something really bizarre happening).
   90. Greg K Posted: December 12, 2013 at 03:14 PM (#4616882)
Allowing infielders to be close, but not demanding they be right on the bag, protects their legs, a situation first basemen don't have to worry about (barring something really bizarre happening).

Tim Hudson votes for a neighbourhood play at first!

EDIT: I think the main concern is vicious takeout slides. The neighbourhood play is an attempt to alleviate the danger of the takeout slide. Hopefully if you were to enact Prop 2: Ban the Takeout, then the neighbourhood play would immediately be irrelevant.
   91. Bitter Mouse Posted: December 12, 2013 at 03:25 PM (#4616893)
Allowing infielders to be close, but not demanding they be right on the bag, protects their legs


I think they should have to touch the bag. Close not so much. Touch the bag or update the official rules to say anything within x of the bag is close enough for this and that base, but not the other ones.

I would prefer people follow the rules, and while I have not checked this my assumption is touching the base is in the rules (I guess I could be wrong).

I don't take any joy in the takeout slide and will gladly trade it for a removal of the 'hood.
   92. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 12, 2013 at 03:44 PM (#4616905)
Hopefully if you were to enact Prop 2: Ban the Takeout, then the neighbourhood play would immediately be irrelevant.


It would make it safer, but as long as you require the infielders to be in contact with the bag at the time of the catch, it will be more dangerous than if you allow the neighborhood play. The double play turn is simply a dangerous situation, as I noted in 86. You can take steps to make it safer, and tamping down the aggressive slide into second is tops on the lists to do that. But outlawing any kind of neighborhood play will make it more dangerous.

Obviously some people, like BM, get offended that the MI is not in direct contact with the bag at the time of the catch, and desperately want it changed. I always saw it as one of the quirks of the game, a situation that makes life safer for the middle infielders without giving any kind of unfair advantage, and thus never saw a problem with it.


I don't take any joy in the takeout slide and will gladly trade it for a removal of the 'hood.


This is what I don't get. The neighborhood play seems to bother you more than attempts to cripple the middle infielders.
   93. Nasty Nate Posted: December 12, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4616918)
There is the option of a version of the 'safety base' like they sometimes use for softball at first base - have a base directly adjacent to 2nd base that the fielder uses for force plays but otherwise has no function.


Obviously some people, like BM, get offended that the MI is not in direct contact with the bag at the time of the catch, and desperately want it changed. I always say it as one of the quirks of the game, a situation that makes life safer for the middle infielders without giving any kind of unfair advantage


The advantage is that the fielder gets to record an out without either tagging the runner or the base. The trade-off for safety may be worth it, but it is an advantage.
   94. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: December 12, 2013 at 03:54 PM (#4616922)
A takeout slide is just that -- a *slide.* It's not close to the same thing as lowering your shoulder into a catcher while running at full speed. And most of the time the fielder jumps over the runner and is fine. As long as the runner isn't sliding 5 feet outside the baseline to take out the fielder, I don't think it's a big deal.
   95. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 12, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4616925)
The advantage is that the fielder gets to record an out without either tagging the runner or the base. The trade-off for safety may be worth it, but it is an advantage.


It's employed equally across the board (it's not a perk that only the home team is granted). And it doesn't let you turn the DP quicker (the neighborhood doesn't extend closer to first base).

So I'll stick with it doesn't grant any unfair advantage.
   96. Nasty Nate Posted: December 12, 2013 at 04:00 PM (#4616930)
And it doesn't let you turn the DP quicker


It lets you turn DPs you otherwise wouldn't.
   97. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 12, 2013 at 04:05 PM (#4616936)
It let's you turn DP's you otherwise wouldn't.


Unless you think guys would continue to catch the ball off the bag even though the umpire wasn't granting them the out, I don't think this is really true. If it's not letting you turn the DP quicker, then it's not letting you turn DPs you otherwise wouldn't. It will allow you to turn more of them, because you won't be on the DL.

But even if you were right, it wouldn't make it unfair.
   98. Nasty Nate Posted: December 12, 2013 at 04:15 PM (#4616946)
I see now what you mean by unfair advantage. I meant that the fielders get an advantage over the runners, not that one team gets an advantage over another.

Unless you think guys would continue to catch the ball off the bag even though the umpire wasn't granting them the out, I don't think this is really true. If it's not letting you turn the DP quicker, then it's not letting you turn DPs you otherwise wouldn't. It will allow you to turn more of them, because you won't be on the DL.


C'mon, if the fielders do it there is probably a reason they do so. It allows them to avoid the runners more, which makes it more likely that their throws to first are made accurately and quickly. If they never used it, more throws would be made under duress, and fewer DP's would occur.

If it is universally allowed, it should be in the rules and specified. Also, it would have to be decided whether it was also allowed at other bases (for x-2-3 double plays, etc.).
   99. Bitter Mouse Posted: December 12, 2013 at 04:22 PM (#4616956)
You are mischaracterizing my position. I don't want anyone injured. I would like people to follow the rules. If you want there to be neighborhood plays -- OMG the safety of the player -- then they need to change the rules to explicitly allow it. Or make some other change to make it safer.

What I find annoying is playing the game by unwritten rules, where one year five feet away is OK, but this year we are more strict and you need to be within two feet, except Fred, he calls the game the old way and Bob, because bob likes it to be within 18 inches.

I mean come on that is crap.

And yes it is an advantage to not have to touch the bag. How many plays at first base is someone pulled off the bag of plants near the bag but is not touching it. Neither of those can happen with the neighborhood, if you are "near enough" (whatever that happens to be on that particular day) then you are good to go.

Which means some players would be able to play the DP better because they have better footwork or better body awareness or whatever, but the reduced difficulty of the 'hood reduces the value of that skill in that instance.

Which is fine, it is reasonable to prioritize player safety over other things. I have zero problem with it, but if it is that important put it in the rules (add a safety base or whatever you want). That is hardly (as portrayed up thread) as someone wanting to cripple MI or something.

And no I am not desperate to change it, but it is something when it comes up I have a strong opinion about.
   100. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 12, 2013 at 04:26 PM (#4616970)
C'mon, if the fielders do it there is probably a reason they do so. It allows them to avoid the runners more, which makes it more likely that their throws to first are made accurately and quickly. If they never used it, more throws would be made under duress, and fewer DP's would occur.


They do it because it's safer. They have runners charging hard at them and looking to do damage when they get there. Removing the base from the equation makes it safer, but it doesn't meaningfully change how easy it is to complete the double play.

If it is universally allowed, it should be in the rules and specified. Also, it would have to be decided whether it was also allowed at other bases (for x-2-3 double plays, etc.).


And I don't think you can codify it. Better to grow as it has, where all the parties involved (that matter) understand that a certain amount of leeway will be granted. Honestly, I doubt any of the vested parties would prefer it be outlawed, understanding just why it's allowed. And it's not like this type of situation doesn't exist in a lot of different areas.

Unfortunately, with replay, it may have to go, though I imagine most managers would prefer not to challenge such a call and instead let the historical practice rule.

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